There are few virtues a man can possess more erotic than culinary skill.
Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses
by Isabel Allende

Starting in November of 2009 Michelle at the Big Black Dog formed a group to bake its way through Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg. I loved Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, so I signed up with the group. Michelle first had us do a couple of warm-up assignments, which were my first attempt at blogging. The first "Official" post was on January 15, 2010, and it was followed by 41 more, on the 1st and 15th of each month. When I signed on I said I would bake the whole book, and like Horton (the elephant) I meant what I said and I said what I meant. I finished baking the book on October 1, 2011. Having completed that challenge, now I am just going to do some stuff, and post about it. As part of that stuff Michelle is posing a new, and different, challenge for us each month.

I am still baking bread, mostly the Five Minutes a Day kind, and if you would like to try the Five Minutes a Day bread method there are some links, with recipes, in the right hand column to get you started. Please give it a try.

But first, a word from my sponsor . . .
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One person, Greg Craven, has suggested changing the question from "which side is right" to "what is the wisest thing to do given the uncertainties and the risks involved?" To me, this seems like a very productive way to refocus the conversation. So, if you are confused about, concerned by, or interested in the issue of global warming please take a few minutes to watch his VIDEO. If you find it interesting or helpful, please pass it on to others.

This day be bread and peace my lot.
Alexander Pope

How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?

Julia Child

Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven.
Yiddish proverb
(And some are only half baked.)

There is no love sincerer than the love of food.
George Bernard Shaw, via Sharon

Of all smells, bread; of all tastes, salt.
George Herbert

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Avocado-Guacamole Bread and Pesto Pine Nut Bread (5 of 42)

With this iteration of the Challenge we are celebrating St. Patrick’s day.  All these years and I had not realized that guacamole and pesto were Irish.  I should have known, of course, since they are both green.

Of course, in addition to celebrating St. Patrick's Day, today we also celebrate, as we all know, the anniversary of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, fought on March 15, 1781.  Though the British "won" the battle, it was the high water mark of their southern campaign, and cost them men they could not replace.  Seven months after his victory at Guilford Courthouse, Lord Cornwallis would surrender to the combined American and French forces under General George Washington.   This weekend saw a reenactment of the battle.

Of particular note was the contribution made by the lovely Ellen, in her fetching chapeaux.

There is a distinction between being committed to something and involved in something.  In the case of bacon and eggs, for example, the hen is involved.  The pig is committed.   I may have crossed from involved to committed with regard to bread baking.  This may be  a good thing, since my daughters often tell me I ought to be committed.  (I have three beautiful, smart and gifted daughters.  And a wonderful, long-suffering, and fairly patient wife (who does at least derive the benefit of my culinary efforts).  Even the dog is female.  In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche—and Conan the Barbarian—what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.   This Braid is kind of the same thing, heavily weighted to the distaff side.  But at least here I have Elwood at Flour Today, Bread Tomorrow to be in my Band of Brothers (we are but bakers for the working day, our gayness and our gilt are all besmirch’d with dusty flour and sticky dough, and time hath worn us into slovenry.  But, by the mass, our loaves are in the  trim).)

Anyway, I sprung for a flour mill.  After reading various reviews and posts I decided on a Nutrimll.  
I had read that it was a bit of a “puffer” in that it puffed out some flour as it ground.  I did notice a fine dusting on the counter, but I make way more of a mess when I bake.  So far I have only used it once, and was pleased with the flour.
I used hard red wheat from Pleasant Mill Grains, which is also where I got my mill.   I used it to make the Master Whole Grain.  I was a bit concerned, based on the experience of Mama Peck at Bread That’s Good for You, who had some trouble getting the hydration right.  I decided to weigh the flour, since after milling it would be particularly “fluffy,” and it seemed to work out fine.  It seemed a bit wetter when I mixed it, but after a spell in the fridge I did not notice any difference from my usual batches.  And the bread was great, and more nutritious.  What more can I ask?   

Anyway, as to the tasks at hand, I first made the Pesto Bread.  I used frozen pesto from last Summer’s garden, and slivered almonds instead of pine nuts (cheaper, and I had some in the freezer).  In keeping with this “healthy” thing, here is a recipe from Curlytopbop for
Almost No Fat Pesto
1-2 cups spinach
1 cup basil
2-3 tbsp Parmesan
1/3 cup walnuts
Garlic salt (or garlic) to taste
And the key ingredient--1 whole tomato (the juices are the perfect replacement for olive oil in this recipe)
Toss everything in a blender or food processor and blend your way to "green sauce" heaven.

The dough had a greenish tinge, and a great smell.    After rising and chillin’ in the fridge I formed it into a loaf, let it rest, and slashed it. 
   It baked up beautifully.   And tasted good too. 

It had a subtle flavor, perhaps because my pesto used a mix of spinach and basil. 

So I thought “What could be better than that?”  And it came to me-- use the dough to make pepperoni bread. 

A little pepperoni,                                                                                         a little cheese

and great Pesto Pine Nut Almond Pepperoni Bread. 
Then, as I lay in bed not sleeping (one of the curses attendant to the Old part of being  Old Pop) it occurred to me that you could use almost anything in this dough in place of the pesto.  So I made a batch with Trader Joe’s Spicy Black Bean Dip and pepitas.  It, too, was great.  Now, I think I have some roasted red pepper spread somewhere . . . .

Since we had a thaw here on the North Coast, I fired up the grill and made grilled flatbread from both  the black bean and the pesto dough.   I think this is probably the easiest way to make bread.  I just pull off a hunk, flatten it, and throw it directly on the  grill grates.  A few minutes on each side and it is done.    

And finally, I made the Avocado-Guacamole Bread.  I  used about a third of a cup of canned diced tomatoes, thanks to the idea offered by Judy L, since tomatoes are not at their peak around here at this time of the year.
         The dough did  spread a bit, perhaps because I let it rise quite a while, but I thought it was pretty tasty.  Also, the bread happily contained both the green chunks of avocado and the “orange” chunks of tomato—perhaps prompting us to hope for peace in Ireland?


  1. I such a history buff that it is surprising I've never been to a reenactment but I've always wanted to see one!

    With all those females, I guess you are a bit outnumbered, aren't you! I used to be the only female in my house but I sort of liked it that way.

    Congratulations on the flour mill and I'm looking forward to hearing more about it.

    Love your idea of using some other mixes in the dough. Trader Joe's Roasted Red Pepper is one of my favorites and I don't think I could make it better!


  2. I agree with you about the wonderful aroma of this dough- it was fabulous! All of your treatments are great. I love the flat bread on the grill and the addition of the black bean dip with pepitas- so creative.

  3. I'm so glad you didn't have any trouble with your home ground wheat! That gives me hope. :) I love all the creative ways you've used these doughs. I learn something every time I visit your site. Thanks for posting that pesto recipe- That's definitely going on my 'to try' list!

  4. Thank you sooo much for posting that recipe for almost no fat pesto. I plan on making a loaf of that bread as soon as I have a chance. Once again, everything that you have baked and shown on your page looks delicious!
    p.s. reenactments look cool and anyone you may attend one is way cool!!!

  5. I have 4 daughters. My husband is very outnumbered here and here at home and he doesn't even make bread. Loved the wholed post.

  6. Congrats on getting a mill. I am almost ready to be committed too. Great job.

  7. I want a mill too!!! Been looking for second hand......great post......thanks for sharing....

  8. The bread looks good - especially the pepperoni loaf! I will have to keep your pesto recipe in mind this summer - this dough is a definite keeper!

  9. I just don't understand what the girl in the silly outfit has to do with bread! The Pesto Bread was pretty great though!

  10. A Nutrimill! How exciting! Your pepperoni bread sounds like a great snack (or dinner!).

  11. It's all boys in my house - I am outnumbered 3 to 1! I love the pepperoni bread and the flatbread on the grill. That's a keeper for summertime grilling. Very creative work!

  12. @ Anonymous-
    The girl is his lovely daughter, Ellen. He is simply proud of his family and bread and family do go together.

  13. Your wife does sound like a saint. We've seen two of your beautiful daughters, when do we get to see the third? Is there a step after committed? You might be there. All these breads with the unexpected ingredients and incredible textures are absolutely delicious! My favorite this time was the Avocado Guacamole bread. And I think the Mill was a great idea.

  14. Not only a saint, but smart and pretty, too.

  15. I'm jealous of the new grain mill. Your bread looked sooo good.

  16. Your breads look great! Congratulations on getting your grain mill. I look forward to hearing more about your experiences milling your own flour.

  17. How fun to have a mill! I was looking at them online and decided it wasn't in my budget yet. *sigh* Your breads came out wonderfully. I'd make them again, not only because they tasted good...but the aroma while baking was amazing! Especially the pesto version

  18. Good looking breads. My pesto came out rather
    flat but good tasting and the aromas. wow!!
    Enjoy your flour mill. Am hoping to get one
    some day. Am bookmarking Pleasant Mill Grains
    for future reference. Thanks.