Savory Holiday Star Bread with Roasted Red Peppers, Basil Pesto, Asiago Cheese and Pistachios

 
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Festive bread to brighten the holiday table with red, white and green.

I’ve partnered with Life’s Simple Ingredients to bring you this delicious show stopping holiday bread. It is also baked with a mixture of wholesome whole wheat and all-purpose flour to keep some extra nutrition packed in.

What I love most about this recipe is that you can really be as adventurous as you want with the flavours. To make a sweet version, simply add an extra 1/2 cup of sugar to the dough mixture.

Savory Holiday Star Bread
with Roasted Red Peppers, Basil Pesto, Asiago Cheese and Pistachios

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  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

  • 8g package of active dry yeast

  • ¾ cup milk, plus ¼ cup warm milk

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 1 egg at room temperature, plus 1 egg for brushing

  • ¼ cup butter, softened

  • ½ tsp salt

  • ¼ cup basil pesto (prepared or homemade)

  • ¼ cup chopped pistachios

  • ¾ cup grated Asiago cheese

  • ½ cup pureed roasted red peppers (prepared or homemade) Note: if your puree has too much liquid, strain before using so the texture is more of a loose paste)

Heat ¼ cup milk in microwave for 15-20 seconds. Add yeast and sugar, let stand for 10 minutes. In large blow, add the flour, egg, butter, ¾ cup milk, salt and yeast mixture. Combine until a sticky ball forms. Turn onto counter and knead for 6-8 minutes, or until the dough becomes soft and elastic. Place into a large lightly oiled bowl and cover. Let rise for 1 hour until dough has doubled in size.

On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into four equal parts. Shape into fours balls and cover for another 10-15 minutes. 

Roll one ball a time into a 10-inch circle. Place dough on parchment paper lined pizza pan or large baking sheet. Spread the red pepper paste on the dough, leaving half-an-inch space from the edge. Roll out a second ball, layer onto of the first and sprinkle with cheese and pistachios. Roll out third ball, layer with basil pesto. Roll out forth ball and place on top.

Using a cup as guide, place in the centre of the dough. Cut the dough into four equal parts, stopping at the edge of the cup. Cut each quarter section twice more so you are left with 12 slices (this will make a 6 point star, if you’d like a 8 point star, cut each quarter into four slices). Pick up two slices (one in each hand) and twist the strands outwards twice and pinch the two twists closed together. Repeat until all slices have been twisted and combined.   

Preheat oven to 400. Brush bread with beaten egg, sprinkle with salt, and bake for 20 minute, or until golden brown. Serve hot.

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Some sweet alternatives - Cinnamon Star and Hazelnut Nutella.

Cinnamon Star Bread
Hazelnut Nutella Star Bread
 

Truffle Cheese Ball

 
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I don’t think it’s possible to show up with a cheese ball at a party and it not be star of the party! You don’t even have to tell how easy it was to make. Shhhhh. This version also has a kick of healthy nutrition with some wheat germ added to the crust.

Truffle Cheese Ball with Wheat Germ

  • 340g cream cheese

  • 1 ½ cups shredded truffle cheese

  • 2 tsp white truffle oil

  • ¼ tsp salt

Coating

  • ½ cup nuts, toasted (pecans/walnuts)

  • 1 tbs wheat germ

  • 2 tsp rosemary, finely chopped

  • 1 tsp garlic salt

  • Dash of cayenne

  • Sliced almond slivers (optional)

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, shredded truffle cheese and white truffle oil with a hand blended until smooth and combined. Shape into a ball and refrigerate for an hour.

To make the coating, combine toasted nuts, rosemary, garlic salt, cayenne and wheat germ in a spice grinder, or small food processor, and pulse until just combined.

Roll the ball in the coating. Decorate with sliced almonds.

Serve with your favourite crackers or veggies.

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Perishke

 
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Perishke is a Ukrainian stuffed buns with potato, cottage cheese and dill and served with a dill cream sauce. It’s my goal to make these every Christmas Eve family dinner until I perfect the technique of making the tiniest, most delicious buns ever!

Perishke

Dough

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  • 8 cups all purpose flour

  • 1 ½ cup milk, scalded

  • 4 large eggs

  • 2/3 cups warm water

  • 1/3 cup melted butter

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 x 8g dry active yeast

Filing

  • 5-6 potatoes

  • 375 g dry cottage cheese

  • ½ medium onion, chopped

  • 2 large eggs

  • ½ cup chopped dill

  • ¼ cup chopped green onions

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon pepper

 Sauce

  • 2 ½ cups whipping cream

  • ½ cup chopped green onions

  • 1 cup chopped dill

  • 2 tablespoons butter

     

Dissolve 1 tablespoon sugar in 2/3 cups of warm water, sprinkle yeast over. Let stand 15 minutes to activate yeast (should foam).  In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Add remaining sugar; beat to combine. Add salt, melted butter and milk.  Mix thoroughly and add the dissolved yeast mixture. Slowly add the flour one cup at a time. Mix with a spoon until it is easy to handle by hand. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth (about 5 minutes). Put dough in lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 1½ hours until dough has doubled. Punch down the dough and let rise again for 30 minutes.

While dough is rising, prepare the filing. Cut potatoes into quarters and boil until fork tender. Let cool and mash in a medium size bowl until there are no lumps. Add all remaining ingredients and mix until combined.

Pinch off a small piece of dough, roll into a ball and flatten with your hands (2 ½ inches in diameter for larger buns. Place a tablespoon of filling in the middle, not allowing the mixture to touch the edges (it will prevent the bun from sealing). Pinch to close, folding both ends together on the bottom of the seam to form a small oval bun. Place seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet at least an inch apart. Preheat the over to 350 degrees while the buns rest. Bake for 35 minutes, brush with melted butter and let bake for another 5 minutes or until golden brown.

Let the buns cool. Arrange in a cast-iron pan or casserole dish depending on how many you would like to serve. You can freeze extra buns you aren’t serving. Make the cream the sauce by melting butter in a saucepan. Add green onions and sauté for 1 minute and add the dill. Add cream until bubbles start to form. Pour over buns and bake for another 20 minutes. Serve hot.

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