It’s a great time of year – corn is in season, as well as cherries, berries, and early peaches. It’s also time to start thinking about dinners for school nights and evenings full of sports.While we don’t have kids in school anymore, it wasn’t that long ago and we remember it well. Not to mention, now that Tom will be bowling with the church league on Monday nights, (I know! Right?!) we’ll have to have some of these recipes in the line-up.Enter the best sweet and sour meatballs ever. A Hawaiian-themed dish, these are perfect in the slow cooker. The sauce is so versatile you can pour it over chicken or pork and bake for a more leisurely dinner served over rice.The meatballs are just right in our New England Hot Dog Buns as a meal you can almost grab and go.Before you look at the recipe and get worried about making your own meatballs, rest assured this works great with frozen meatballs. A 1.5-pound bag of frozen meatballs in the slow cooker with sauce will cook up in 3-4 hours on high and be ready for a great, fast meal. For those of you who are foodies, make the meatballs ahead and freeze or plan this dinner ahead – meatballs on Sunday, then in the morning, into the crockpot on low for Monday’s dinner.On another note, this time of year isn’t just for end-of-summer activities. It’s anniversary time for us. That’s right. The market is officially 11 years old this week. We’re celebrating with kids’ activities like pony rides, face painting, and a petting zoo. We at Sandi’s will be celebrating by giving a 10% discount to anyone who mentions this newsletter!
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/3 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ t ginger
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1T soy sauce
2T brown sugar
1 (15 ounce) can pineapple chunks, juice reserved
1/3 cup vinegar (Rice, cider, or white)
1/3 cup chopped bell pepper (We usually prefer red, orange, or yellow, but you can use green, too.)
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Thoroughly mix the ground beef, bread crumbs, onion, milk, egg, garlic, ginger, and salt together in a bowl. Wet hands, then roll the mixture into balls and arrange on a baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven until the meatballs are browned on the bottom, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a slow cooker. Or, freeze or refrigerate for later use.
Stir the cornstarch and brown sugar together in the bottom of a saucepan and place over low heat. Add the reserved pineapple juice, soy sauce and vinegar; stir until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil for 1 full minute before removing from heat; pour over the meatballs in the slow cooker.
Add the pineapple chunks and bell pepper to the slow cooker.
Cook the mixture in the slow cooker on Low until the flavors are thoroughly combined, 3 to 4 hours.
Wow! It seems like ages since I’ve written a blog post. Probably because it has been! It’s been a busy time and dealing with the big flood of July 2018 made things even more interesting. Many of you know that we spent part of the week staying with friends just so we could get to work. It was quite the adventure. I hope that you all escaped with minimal damage to homes and businesses.Despite not being home, we did eat well and were able to keep the bakery operating at full capacity. (Although making deliveries was interesting, to say the least!)Now that we’re back home, have a dry basement, and are into our normal schedule, it’s time to get cooking again. This week’s Asian dish uses a pile of fresh basil (purchased from Masser’s) and makes a fantastic, quick meal. It has a little kick and is best served over rice. (This is a recipe straight from Allrecipes.com and is one of the few recipes I have actually followed. Lol.)An important thing I learned about basil since I got a huge bunch for this recipe – you can keep it in a container of water on your counter for weeks until you use it up. In the past, I bought basil, used a bit, and put the rest in the fridge only to find it wilted and ruined in the next day or so. Now, I have it on my counter and ready to top a salad, sprinkle on my ratatouille, or add to a dish of tortellini with olive oil. So, go ahead and pick up that bunch of basil this weekend when you’re picking up veggies and you’ll find great ways to use it throughout the week.
Spicy Thai Basil Chicken
1/3 cup chicken broth1 tablespoon oyster sauce1 tablespoon soy sauce, or as needed2 teaspoons fish sauce1 teaspoon white sugar1 teaspoon brown sugar2 tablespoons vegetable oil1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, coarsely chopped1/4 cup sliced shallots4 cloves garlic, minced2 tablespoons minced Thai chilies, Serrano, or other hot pepper (I used a jalapeno from Tom’s garden and it was wonderful.)1 cup very thinly sliced fresh basil leaves (When measuring basil, pack the cup full.)2 cups hot cooked rice (I opt for jasmine rice. It’s so aromatic and lovely.)
Whisk chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, white sugar, and brown sugar together in a bowl until well blended.
Heat large skillet over high heat. Drizzle in oil. Add chicken and stir fry until it loses its raw color, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in shallots, garlic, and sliced chilies. Continue cooking on high heat until some of the juices start to caramelize in the bottom of the pan, about 2 or 3 more minutes. Add about a tablespoon of the sauce mixture to the skillet; cook and stir until sauce begins to caramelize, about 1 minute.
Pour in the rest of the sauce. Cook and stir until sauce has deglazed the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until sauce glazes onto the meat, 1 or 2 more minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in basil. Cook and stir until basil is wilted, about 20 seconds. Serve with rice
It’s tomato season!!! I’m one of those folks who relishes the prospect of big, thick slices of fresh-from-the-garden, sunshine-warmed, juicy beefsteak tomatoes. I slice them, put them on a plate and sprinkle with salt and freshly-ground pepper. Or, I make a tomato sandwich using any one of a variety of our breads with a dab of mayo. Or, we make open-faced, broiled tomato sandwiches with cheese and bacon. You see the pattern here? I LOVE tomato season.The last couple of years, Tom has had what I call a “salsa garden” – a garden of tomatoes, jalapenos, and cilantro. This year, he added tomatillos. We’ve already started harvesting the little golden cherry tomatoes and jalapenos and are waiting patiently (maybe?) for everything else to fully ripen. While we’re waiting, though, I’ve started buying the big, beautiful beefsteak tomatoes that Masser’s is selling. They are local, Lancaster County tomatoes and are amazing with a sun-ripened flavor and bursting with juice. Last year’s crop inspired me to feature a recipe for tomato salad with fresh mozzarella and basil, drizzled with EVOO. This year, it’s a traditional Italian panzanella, or tomato and bread salad.The great thing about panzanella, is how it improves as it sits. If you don’t want the bread to get too soggy, though, toast it or let in sit out a while to stale a bit. Or, you can keep the bread separate and place it in the bottom of each bowl then spoon the tomato salad on top. I prefer to mix everything together and let the bread sop up the tomato-EVOO-vinegar dressing. Our Italian loaf has just the right amount of chewy crust to make it a perfect choice for this salad. (I’ve also used our Sourdough with impressive results.)I would serve this salad on the side of a juicy grilled steak and accompany it with a dry red wine. (A Cab-Sav, perhaps? Or, a Tempranillo from Olivera Vineyards!) Then, when dinner is done, I bring out the biscotti for dessert and dunking in more wine. If you’ve never done that very Italian dessert thing, you must try it! Our chocolate biscotti are well-suited for dunking in red wines. The Blueberry Fields, Pineapple, and Italian Lemon are perfect for a white. All are a wonderful way to end a meal in a quintessentially Italian manner.
1 clove garlic1 (1 pound) loaf Italian bread2 cups chopped tomatoes1 cup cucumber - peeled, seeded and chopped1 cup chopped red onion2 cloves garlic, minced2 cups chopped fresh basil2 T chopped fresh thyme1/4 cup olive oil2 tablespoons red wine or balsamic vinegarSalt and pepper to taste
Rub a peeled clove of garlic around a wooden salad bowl.
Pull apart or chop the bread into bite-size pieces, toast lightly in oven or let stale by sitting out for a couple of hours.
In the prepared salad bowl, combine the bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, garlic, basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Add enough olive oil and vinegar to lightly coat, toss and serve.
On another note, a wonderful way to enjoy the hot afternoon might be with a chilled beverage made of seasonal fruits. Melons and pineapple blend so well together. Add a little sparkling water or alcohol such as raspberry moonshine or Chambord and you’re in for a sweet, refreshing treat.
3 cups watermelon1 cup cantaloupe1/2 cup pineapple1/2 cup muddled mint leavesPlace all fruits in blender. Blend until all large chunks are removed. Pour into pitcher. Add mint leaves. Chill in freezer until almost icy. To serve, pour in chilled glasses, add a spritz of fresh lemon juice. Enjoy.
It’s coming up to the 4th of July and we’re getting into grilling everything we can. Potatoes, onions, all manner of veggies and meats. These are all great foods to grill, but what is the quintessential food for the 4th? Sweet corn! Local sweet corn will be in for the 4th and we’re getting the grill ready!As a child growing up in New York and Southern California, we didn’t have farms and farm markets. We had the grocery store and corn was an expensive treat. So, the children got ½ an ear of corn and adults got 1 ear. That was it. In this area of the country, we are surrounded by farms and farmer’s markets where sweet corn abounds. So, let’s feast!If you are boiling your corn, try adding a couple cups of milk to the water. It sweetens the corn even more, whereas salting the water can toughen it. That said, you really must try grilling. Grilling imparts a bit of smokiness that enhances the sweetness of the corn and improves the whole culinary experience all without heating up the kitchen. Add some herbed butter and parmesan cheese to the mix and you will have elevated the simple cob to the prime spot on the plate, with the steak playing second fiddle. (What? There’s steak here? I didn’t notice…too busy with my corn!)After much research, I found this recipe for grilled corn that features a combination of herbs, butter, and parmesan that does just that. In fact, the herbed butter and parmesan combo is so good, you’ll want to have extra to cook some potatoes, onions and other vegetables.(NOTE: At the bottom of the newsletter I always list the menu for the coming week. If you see something you would like us to put aside for you, please just reply to this e-mail and we'll be delighted to accommodate your request.)
Grilled Sweet Corn with Herbed Butter
8 ears corn, husk and silk removed
1 1/2 tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 cup softened butter
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon crushed rosemary
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
** Or, use any combination of herbs you have on-hand.Directions
Soak corn in cold water for 1 to 3 hours. (This hydrates the kernels so they don’t scorch and they pop when you bite into them.)
Stir together EVOO and softened butter in a bowl. Season with garlic and herbs, salt, and pepper; stir in Parmesan cheese.
Drain corn and pat dry. Spread butter mixture evenly over each ear of corn, and place each piece on a square of aluminum foil. Tightly wrap each ear and puncture to allow excess steam to escape while grilling.
Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat.
Grill the corn cobs until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes, turning frequently. Remove from the grill and check for doneness; if the corn is not done, continue cooking an additional 5 minutes.
I’m not much of a morning person, but as a bakery owner there are a few days a week when getting up with the sun just isn’t a choice. (All that mystique of getting into the bakery at 3 a.m. to the smell of yeasty dough, baking bread, and fresh-from-the-oven pastries is a bunch of hooey. I like my sleep.) A lot of mornings my routine centers around getting up at a very reasonable 6:30ish, taking a walk, and sitting down to a hot cup of coffee and a good breakfast before jumping into the to-do’s of the day.My go-to breakfast these days is quick, easy, and gives me enough energy to get me through that first part of the day. Usually I reach for a piece of toast and top it off with a delicious piece of cheese. Since our kitchen counters are always overflowing with sample loaves of bread, I am never at a loss for a yummy and wholesome foundation for a cheesy topper. Some of my favorite loaves to use for breakfast toast are Sourdough, Artisan Seed, Parmesan and Pepper, Sundried Tomato, Cranberry Walnut Raisin, and Rosemary.If you want to get fancy, you can mix up some scrambled eggs to accompany your cheesy toast. “Cheesy Eggs” have always been a breakfast staple in our family. With three dairy science degrees between the six of us it is not uncommon to find dairy as a key ingredient in any one of our family’s favorite foods. To make the perfect cheesy eggs you need good creamy milk (or heavy cream, Greek yogurt, or sour cream), and your favorite rich cheese. Crack the eggs into a bowl, mix in the milk, and then add the cheese to your egg and milk mixture. Scramble up your ingredients and you get the fluffiest, cheesiest scrambled eggs you’ve ever had, perfect for topping off your toast!
Smith Style Cheesy Eggs
4 eggs4 T finely shredded sharp cheddar1 T heavy cream, sour cream, or Greek yogurt1 t butter4 T chopped ham (optional)Whisk eggs together until foaming. Mix in cheese and dairy, mixing thoroughly if using the sour cream or yogurt option. Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Pour in egg mixture. Stir gently after eggs begin to firm up. Continue stirring until eggs are all cooked but not dry, about 3-5 minutes.
As many of you know, we have a few kids. Four, to be exact. And they are all young adults. This translates to us being on the brink of the Empty Nest phase of our lives. For example, this week I traveled between home and Maryland where I helped our eldest daughter and her husband move into a new place. (They’re going to be so much closer now. Compared to trekking to Harrisonburg, VA, Baltimore is a hop, skip and a jump!) And we'll soon be helping our son relocate, as well. Then there's the other daughter who is headed back to campus shortly for a summer session job. Oh, and finally the last (but not least!!!) daughter who is headed out of town to visit a boyfriend...You get the picture.I’m sure you’ll agree that having four young adults in various stages of residency in our home changes things. One of those is knowing who will be around for a Father’s Day celebration. This year they’re all going in so many directions that it’s time to pull out the big guns and tempt them with something they can’t resist. Translation: It’s time to grill!This weekend, we’re channeling our inner Asian with a homemade teriyaki sauce for steak on skewers. Use some of the marinade to brush over skewered vegetables – red onions, mushrooms, bell peppers of all colors, summer squash – for a delicious side. We’ll pile the cooked strips of steak into one of our New England Style Hot Dog Buns, along with some of the grilled veggies, then top with a reduction of the marinade. What a meal! Then, for a finish, Lemon Cloud Cakes with fresh strawberries. What more could Dad possibly want?
Teriyaki Beef Skewers
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar1 cup soy sauce1 cup pineapple juice1 t fresh ginger, chopped1 t sesame oil1/4 cup vegetable oil3 large garlic cloves, chopped4 pounds top sirloin, briefly frozen then cut into 1/4-inch slicesbamboo skewers, soaked in waterWhisk brown sugar, soy sauce, pineapple juice, vegetable oil, and garlic together in a large bowl; drop beef slices into the mixture and stir to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.Marinate beef in refrigerator for 6-24 hours.Remove beef from the marinade, shaking to remove any excess liquid. Set aside marinade.Thread beef slices in a zig-zag onto the skewers.Preheat grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grate.Cook skewers on preheated grill until the beef is cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side.Move marinade to sauce pan and cook until reduced by half. Use for additional sauce over meat and vegetables.
Wow! It’s been a busy week for Sandi’s Breads. With the weather finally getting nicer, area restaurants are getting busier and that translates to more baking for us. Yay! Also, we’re getting more into pie baking, so that adds a little something to a busy baking day. Blueberry pies are the order of the day. And, I’m testing a Shoo Fly Pie recipe, so stay tuned for that.In the meantime, I’m sharing a couple of recipes that came to me courtesy of a customer. Using our Cinnamon Raisin Bread, she made a wonderfully tasty bread pudding. Ever have bread left over? Here’s the recipe for you! (Thanks, Paula!)The second recipe is one that pairs with our New England Style Hot Dog Buns. If you’ve never tried them, check them out. Just ask and we’ll fetch some from the freezer for you. These rolls are special because their flat sides make them perfect for grilling before filling with sausages or hot dogs (or making lobster rolls, if you’re a New Englander).Finally, if you haven’t checked out our Facebook page lately, take a look. Grab-A-Nola has been traveling to Belize and Guatemala with our son. If you are traveling this season, grab a couple of bars to take along. Take pictures of the bar (or just the wrapper after you’ve eaten the bar…thanks, Rosemary!) and we’ll post them. (If you have been following our posts, you’ll know that Grab-A-Nola just had an amazing tour of Italy not long ago.)Well, let’s get cooking!
Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding
½ loaf Sandi’s Breads Cinnamon Raisin Bread, cubed2 c milk¼ c butter, melted½ c sugar1 t cinnamon½ t nutmeg1 t vanillaPreheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine last 6 six ingredients in a bowl. Place bread cubes in a greased 1 ½ qt. casserole dish. Bake 50-55 minutes.
Bread Pudding Sauce
½ c butter½ c half and half¼ c sugar¼ c brown sugar1 t vanillaCombine first four ingredients in pot over medium heat, stirring until slightly thickened, about 5-8 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Serve warm over warm bread pudding.
Classic Coney Island Hot Dogs
1 pk Sandi’s Breads New England Style Hot Dog Buns1 pound ground beef2 onions, finely chopped2 cloves garlic, finely chopped2 T chili powder1 T ground cumin1 6-oz can tomato paste1 c water1 T yellow mustard, plus more for topping1 T Worcestershire Sauce2 t brown sugar8 beef hot dogs in natural casingsPreheat oven to 300 degrees. Wrap buns in foil and set aside. In a large skillet, cook the meat and half the onions over medium-high heat until the meat is done and the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in chili powder and cumin and continue cooking, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Stir in water, tomato paste, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to medium and cook until thickened, about 20 minutes.While the chili cooks, cook hot dogs according to directions. Place wrapped rolls in oven and heat through. Place hot dogs in rolls, top with chili, remaining onions and extra mustard.
Memorial Day – No Boring Burgers Allowed!
(Full disclosure - this is a re-post from a couple of years ago, but it's soooo good. Enjoy!)It’s Memorial Day, a time for picnics and parties to celebrate, well, to celebrate the beginning of summer's fun! Let's start it all off with a great burger!One thing we’ve tried lately is a beef-sausage burger that was incredibly easy and one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten. Making it was one huge cheat, but it was so worth it! We bought ground beef, meatloaf mix and loose sausage from Linda’s Country Meats, mixed it all together, and made big burgers. (One pound each of the beef and meatloaf mix, and half pound loose sausage.) These burgers were amazing on our sandwich rolls with fresh slices of peeled tomatoes, lettuce, onion, and condiments. (For a poultry option, Dutch Country Poultry has the best turkey sausages I’ve ever eaten.)To accompany the burgers, I found a recipe for an incredible garlic cream sauce that would top any burger and make it worthy of a song. Whether or not you want to make fancy burgers, if you dress them with this sauce, add the fresh tomatoes, lettuce, etc., you’ll have the best picnic ever! You can even drizzle this over the sausages or brats you’re grilling.As always, you can find everything you need at the market. If you want locally-grown/produced foods, the market is the place for you! We stone-mill locally-grown, certified organic wheat berries to produce all of our pastries. Masser’s Produce harvests over 1500 acres of fruits and vegetables to provide us with a rainbow of fresh produce. We actually purchase many ingredients we use in our products from them. (i.e. Baked goods like mushroom pies, spinach pies, apple cakes and muffins, zucchini cakes and muffins…you get the idea.) Other vendors in the buildings can supply everything else you might need to complete your festive fare – much of it also locally grown/produced.
Things to NOT forget:
Sandwich Rolls, Slider Rolls and New England Hot Dog Buns (We are featuring them all this weekend! As an alternative, use our Focaccia of the Week for hot dog/sausage buns. Ask us about how to.)
Fresh watermelon – you can serve it cold, or grill it. (Ask anyone at Masser's about how to grill watermelon.)
Fresh blueberry pie. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
Fresh beefsteak tomatoes – peeled, sliced, sprinkled with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
Garlic Cream(Note: I usually go for the healthy option, replacing cream with yogurt or chicken broth. Here, you simply have to go for the gusto. Own the moment and enjoy it!)8 cloves garlic1 c olive oil½ c whole milk½ c heavy creamCombine the garlic with 1 c water and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes, then drain. Return garlic to the pan along with the olive oil. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook for 5 minutes, then drain, reserving the olive oil. Finally, return the garlic to the pan, add the milk and cream, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the cream is reduced and garlic is tender (10-12 minutes). Using an immersion blender, begin to puree. With the blender running, slowly drizzle the reserved olive oil, and blend until oil is incorporated and sauce is thick.
It’s spring and we’re all eating lighter now that swimsuits and shorts are right around the corner. We know that salad is a great go-to for light eating, but what about pizza? Yup. Pizza. A good thin-crust pizza with lots of veggies, a sprinkling of fresh mozzarella, and a bit of primo EVOO drizzled over the top (or, a nice truffle-infused EVOO!) can be filling for your belly and exciting for your taste buds.Frequently, when looking for lighter fare, we forget that a combination of tastes and textures is what makes a great meal – a light broth with some noodles is delicious, but what about adding some fresh baby bok-choy for a crunch? Or, a warm quinoa salad with lemon, EVOO, and marinated artichoke hearts on top of a bed of spring greens? The greens will add a bit of cool crunch under the warm quinoa. Delicious. So, why not mix it up with your pizza?We have a lovely pizza dough – plain or garlic herb, and either as dough, or as a pre-baked crust – that makes wonderful pizza. If you need guidance on working with the pizza dough, just ask. I have directions for you. Grab the veggies from Masser’s and pick up some fresh mozzarella from Susan at Penne From Heaven. A few strips of bacon from Linda’s Meats will add a nice little zip to the flavor and a crunch of its own. You’ll be all set for this week’s culinary adventure!(I came across this recipe while listening to an NPR show. I was hungry while driving. Never a good time to be listening to food commentary, but better than being hungry in the store.)Just think, this could be the perfect lunch for Mother’s Day this weekend. A lovely pizza with fresh vegetables and a nice glass of wine. Mmmmmm. Serve with a side salad of butter lettuce with grapefruit sections and a light vinaigrette.
Mushroom and Mozzarella Pizza withFresh Arugula and Grape Tomatoes
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces portobello or your favorite mushroom, cut into slices, about 1/2 inch
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried and crumbled
2 balls Sandi’s pizza dough, or, 2 pre-baked Sandi’s pizza crust
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into thin slices and then cut in half
1/2 packed cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 ounces prosciutto, cut into small pieces (optional)
6 slices bacon, cooked very crisp and crumbled (optional)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup arugula
Heat the oven to 450 - 500 degrees, or as high as your oven setting will allow.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms, salt, pepper, garlic and half the thyme and cook, stirring, for about 7 minutes, or until slightly golden brown and tender but not limp. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, use your hands or a rolling pin to stretch out each ball of dough to about 8 inches long and about 3 to 4 inches wide. The shape can be rectangular or circular. Place on a cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining ball of dough.
Arrange half the mushrooms on the bottom of each pizza. Top with the remaining thyme, salt and pepper. Add the prosciutto or bacon to the pizzas, if using. Sprinkle half the Parmesan on top of the mushroom and prosciutto. Arrange the mozzarella slices on top and drizzle with the remaining oil.
***Bake on the middle shelf for 6 minutes. Remove and sprinkle on the cherry tomatoes and the remaining Parmesan and bake another 6 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and looks cooked through; the cheese should be bubbling and melted. Serve immediately topped with the arugula.
***Baking time for pre-baked crust will be much shorter. Just keep an eye on the toppings and wait for the cheeses to bubble.
This week's been busy with getting ready for a college graduation (yay!!!), so here's an old favorite blog along the theme of great sandwiches we've been enjoying recently. Don't forget the wine, too! See below for great pairings!If you’re one of the many customers I frequently talk with about bread and food pairings, you will have often heard me saying things like, “I was reading in one of my favorite food magazines,” or, “I came across this recipe on a favorite food website,” or “I was browsing a new cookbook and…”. (So, not only am I a foodie, but I am a total food nerd!) With that in mind, I decided to do a little research into some new pairings for our breads. At the same time, I decided to elevate the lowly toasted cheese sandwich to a height worthy of a true culinary masterpiece. Pairing assorted cheeses and wines with our breads led me to the title of this piece: “Toasted Cheese, Wine, and Shameless Self Promotion”. I thought it had a nice ring to it.I’ll start with the startling discovery that using butter to coat the bread for the toasted cheese sandwich is not the best option. Rather, mayonnaise is much better. Before you start protesting, let me explain. Mayo, especially that made with olive oil, can actually be a healthier option. It makes a crisper, less greasy toasted cheese sandwich with a better flavor. Now, most of you know that Tom and I both have agriculture backgrounds with degrees in Dairy Science, so I would be the last one to be disrespectful of the dairy industry. (We use butter, no imitations in our house!) That said, I tested this mayo-for-toasted-cheese-bread theory and was very pleased with the results. I don’t think we’ll be going back to butter on this one. The mayo also spreads much more easily on the bread.Now that we have that detail out of the way, I have compiled a list of our breads and paired them with a variety of cheeses that would complement them and make a great sandwich. Then, I researched wines to pair with the cheeses and came up with some ideas for a fun dinner with friends. Rather than the usual wine with cheese and crackers, make up mini toasted cheese sandwiches to serve with the wine. Serve them warm (of course) with some fruits on the side.So, without further ado, here’s the list:Rye: chevre, swiss, gruyere, cheddar, Muenster, Gouda (Is there a cheese that DOESN’T go well on rye? I’m so biased.)Sourdough: camembert, brie, sharp cheddar, pepper jack, fresh mozzarellaAsiago: pepper jack, provolone, brie, fresh mozzarella, gorgonzola (with a drizzle of honey)French: fontina, Havarti (dill Havarti, too!), Muenster, Smoked Gouda, GruyereCinnamon Raisin: Muenster, brie, cheddar, fresh mozzarella12-Grain: provolone, Havarti, MuensterAdd-ins are great for this occasion. Just because you’re doing toasted cheese, doesn’t mean it has to be just cheese and breads. Try these:Avocado, smoky grilled chicken, tomato, bacon, honey, red onion, spinach, honeyNow, once you’ve determined which breads will go with which cheeses, and what add-ins you might try, it’s time to get out the wine list. Here are some of the suggestions I found from my very thorough research. (Just for the record, researching wines is (hiccup) a tough job. I threw myself into it, though, for your sakes.)Brie: Chardonnay, Pinot NoirCheddar: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Red ZinfandelFresh mozzarella: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, BeaujolaisGruyere: Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Shiraz, Beaujolais, Pinot NoirProvolone: Chardonnay, Beaujolais, ShirazSwiss: Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Melot, Beaujolais, Pinot NoirI really look forward to your feedback on this one. It was so much fun to research and try. Let me know which combinations you tried and what worked best for you.