The Farm to Market Bread Co.'s newest limited-edition bread, a robustly dark pumpernickel called Black Russian, was created as a collaboration with the Roasterie - both local companies are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year - using the Roasterie's Sumatra Concentrate Toddy coffee, cocoa and raisins.
Farm to Market began delivering loaves of the fragrant, richly flavored Black Russian to select local supermarkets last Friday; the bread will be available only through Sunday, November 17. This bread can be frozen, says Farm to Market's director of sales Lindsay Borum, for up to two weeks. "I suggest wrapping it in plastic," Borum says, "letting the loaf defrost in the plastic and maybe, after defrosting, popping it in a 300 degree oven for a few minutes to freshen it."
To find out the best ways to use the Black Russian bread in holiday recipes, The Pitch delivered a half-dozen loaves to the students in the culinary arts program at the Fort Osage Career & Technology Center at Fort Osage R1 School District. Under the direction of the program's instructor, chef Lisa Burgess, the students used the bread in two of the lunch dishes they prepared for a group of 25 human-resources directors from school districts and colleges in the metropolitan area.
The menu for the lunch was created by the students using as many local ingredients as possible: a hearty French onion soup topped with a Black Russian bread crouton and melted gruyère cheese; cider-braised chicken thighs topped with a roasted butternut-and-spinach salad with a warm bacon vinaigrette (the recipe for the salad follows at the end of the post) and Russian black bread stuffing; and pound cake topped with a warm Michigan cherry compote..
"The most time-consuming part of the process was making the French onion soup," said Desirae Cox, a 17-year-old senior in the culinary program (and one of the few students in the class who isn't sure she wants to go into the restaurant business as a career; she currently works as a waitress at the Independence IHOP).
Burgess confirmed that the soup was a four-hour project, involving chopping 40 pounds of onions, caramelizing them, and cooking them in beef and chicken stock. The students working on the meal included 16-year-old Burl Purdom (currently cooking at the Independence Fazoli's), 17-year-old Ashlynn States (working part time at Culver's) and 17-year-old Erica Bryant (another IHOP employee who is considering a future restaurant career).
Burgess has been coordinating the two-year culinary arts program at the Career & Technology High School since it was created six years ago.
Farm to Market's Black Russian bread is available, through Sunday, at Hen House stores, Cosentino's Brookside Market and the Cosentino's Market downtown, the Brookside Price Chopper and the Price Chopper at 95th Street and Mission, the Hy-Vee store at 76th Street and State Line, and Marsh's Sun Fresh in Westport.
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
* 1 (1-1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and 3/4-inch) diced
* Olive oil
* 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 3 tablespoons dried cranberries
* 3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
* 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
* 2 tablespoons minced shallots
* 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
* 4 ounces baby spinach or arugula, washed and spun dry
* 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
* Lemon juice and zest to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, salt and pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15-20 minutes, turning once, until tender.
While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, salt, pepper and bacon!
Place the greens in a large salad bowl and add the roasted-squash mixture, and the grated parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Black Russian Bread Pudding
* 2 loaves Farm to Market Black Russian Bread
* Olive oil
* 1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 4 celery ribs, chopped fine
* 2 medium yellow onions
* 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
* 1/4 cup fresh thyme, chopped
* 1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped
* 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram, minced
* 2 quarts good chicken or vegetable stock
* 1 pound assorted, fresh mushrooms (suggestion: crimini and white button; chanterelles make a great garnish)
* 3-1/2 cups half and half
* 4 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Drying the bread prior to making the stuffing proved to be a necessary step in order to achieve the texture we were looking for. Cut up or tear the bread and spread out on a sheet pan. About 45 minutes.
Saute the aromatics (all of the vegetables except the mushrooms), just until they are transparent. Saute the mushrooms separately ensuring the moisture gets cooked out of them. We found butter was the best fat to saute in for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, we wanted the flavor. Second, the low temperature on the saute allowed for the lower smoke point of butter. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the custard and toss to combine.
Make the custard by whisking the half and half, eggs, salt and pepper and pour over the stuffing mixture. Toss to combine.
Transfer the stuffing into a prepared dish. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Bake stuffing uncovered until set and top is golden, about 1 hour. Let stand for a few minutes to firm it up.