Homemade Bread Stuffed with Herbs and Cheese

Friday, July 23, 2010

I have been DYING to try this new recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine and boy am I glad I did! Crusty bread filled with bright green pesto and creamy farmer's cheese ... are you salivating yet? Well, I am!

First, a note about Farmer's Cheese. Ever heard of it? Me neither. Glad Fine Cooking is broadening my cheese palette though. After a short Google search, I found out Farmer's Cheese is a soft white cheese made all over the world. It has a very mild flavor and could be melted, sliced or crumbled to finish off your dish. I like the flavor so much I think I'll serve it with crackers at my next gathering! It reminds me of Muenster Cheese. I used to always eat Muenster instead of American on sandwiches growing up, once I popped a piece of the Farmer's Cheese in my mouth, the flavor took me back to my Mom's kitchen in Orlando, Florida where I'm pretty sure the 1980's apron was born. (Okay, Okay, I'll post a pic soon!)

Onto the bread! I basically followed the recipe in Fine Cooking, although I was lazy and used pesto from a jar instead of the herb mixture from scratch they suggested. I'll post the recipe in case you want to try it.

We served this for some friends over dinner last week and the bread was a hit! Seriously, if you're already going to the trouble of making bread, why not stuff it with some yummy surprises!?

Grilled Naan Filled with Herbs and Cheese
Makes 10 Naans - it could make more, I felt like I could get 12 out of the batch

For the Dough
1 lb or 7.5 oz unbleached all purpose flour
4 TSP. baking powder
4 TSP. Kosher Salt
2 TSP Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 large egg
1/4 Cup peanut or Canola oil, more for brushing (I used Olive Oil)

For the Filling
1 1/2 Cups roughly chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 Cup roughly chopped fresh mint
1/4 Cup unsalted cashews
2 Cloves garlic, chopped
1 TBS Chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp Kosher salt
6 TBS Peanut or Canola Oil, I used Olive Oil
2/3 Cup farmer cheese or queso fresco
Kosher Salt for sprinkling

Make the Dough
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Whisk the yogurt and egg in a medium bowl, then whisk in 1 1/2 Cups of lukewarm water and add the oil. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix on low speed until a soft, sticky dough starts to clump around the hook, about 5 minutes. If the dough seems too wet, add more flour, 1 tsp at a time. Line a baking sheet with parchment and dust lightly with flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into a ball and arrange them on the baking sheet. Lightly brush the dough with oil, cover with plastic and let rest at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours before shaping.

Make the Filling
Combine the cilantro, mint nuts, garlic, ginger and salt in a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped. Scrape the sides of the bowl, turn the processor back on and pour the oil through the feed tube, mixing until incorporated. Transfer to a medium bowl.

Make and Grill the Bread
On a lightly floured surface, roll a dough ball into a 5 inch circle. spread about 2 tsp. of the grilling around the center, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Scatter 1 TBS of the crumbled cheese over the filling. Gather the border to form a pouch, pinching it to seal in the filling. Turn the pouch pinched side down and using very light pressure, roll into a 6 inch circle. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Continue filling and shaping the dough, layering parchment between the breads if you stack them.

Brush the grill grates with a stiff brush, then wipe with lightly oiled paper towel. Grill the breads in batches pinched side down, covered, until they look puffy and the undersides brown slightly in places 2 - 3 minutes. Turn over and cook the other side, covered until grill marks form and the breads are cooked through about 2-4 minutes. Just before taking them off the grill, turn the breads pinched side down and brush lightly with butter. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cut each bread in half and serve warm.

I can't BELIEVE I didn't take a picture with the bread cut in half so you could see the melted cheese and herbs. Sorry! Next time! It was delish!

Enjoy and Mangia! Mangia!


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