Wednesday, March 23, 2011

All for a sandwich

Sometimes it just takes an image to convince me to try a recipe. This time around, it was a grilled cheese sandwich I saw on someone’s blog.

It wasn’t just any grilled cheese sandwich, mind you. This sandwich was made with mozzarella cheese between two slices of Italian herb bread. I craved that sandwich to the point that I made a loaf of bread just to recreate it. Sounds like I have way too much time on my hands, but trust me, I don’t!

I had never baked a loaf of bread made with Italian herbs, but I’ve made herb dinner rolls many times. That recipe is a family favorite.

So I decided to try my luck with the Italian herb bread.

First I looked around the Internet for a recipe. I found plenty but decided to make my own. Just a few days before, I had baked a loaf of one of our favorite breads. It’s a recipe I have made plenty of times, so I decided to adapt it for this herb bread. I looked at the herb ingredients on several bread recipes online and also compared the herbs in the dinner rolls we like so much to come up with a combination of herbs — oregano, thyme and sweet basil — that had a wonderful aroma. I added Parmesan cheese for extra flavor.

As usual, I used my bread machine to mix the dough for the first rising. Then I removed the dough from the machine and formed a loaf to rise and bake in a glass loaf pan.

The house smelled so good as my loaf of herb bread baked. I made the bread one day, and had my sandwich the next. I grilled it on the stove with butter, just as I do any other grilled cheese, but I used two slices of mozzarella instead of American cheese.

I must say the sandwich was delicious and worth the effort.

My husband ate the bread with a meal and really enjoyed it. He said it would be delicious dipped in pizza sauce. Last week, I made the bread again, and we all enjoyed the bread with a plateful of spaghetti.

If you have any leftover bread, make croutons.

Herb Bread for Bread Machine
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk (I use skim milk)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon bread machine yeast or active dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sweet basil
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Scald milk. Remove from heat and add olive oil and honey. Stir until butter melts. Cool to room temperature.

Add milk mixture and other ingredients to bread machine in order suggested by manufacturer. Use dough setting. Might need to add extra flour; keep an eye on it.

When dough is complete, form in shape of a loaf and place in greased loaf pan. Let rise for about 30-45 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes.

*When I make this bread without herbs, I follow the same recipe but use 2 tablespoons butter instead of olive oil, and omit the oregano, thyme, basil and Parmesan cheese. You can also use 2 cups of bread flour and omit the wheat flour. My husband and I love this recipe for breakfast as toast with jelly or cinnamon toast. We also enjoy it as sandwich bread, especially for toasted pimento cheese.

Lisa Batts

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