October 24, 2004

IMBB9: Stuffed Bread

For IMBB9 I really wanted to make the Basque fish terrine recipe from epicurious, because we have such lovely hake here lately, and it sounded so delicious. But I've been traveling lately, and work has been really busy for a change, and it got to be Friday and I realized I hadn't even begun to deal, and I was so tired I knew I never would. So I went to Plan B.

When I was a kid, my mom would sometimes make something that I think of as "stuffed bread." She made it up out of her head, and it is just exactly the sort of cross between white-bread-yankee and white-trash that we so often concocted in our kitchen. I loved it because it was fun to make, and messy to eat, and mushed a lot of flavors up together. I haven't had it in probably 10 years or more, and the terrine theme brought it to mind. It's not really a terrine, but it's terrine shaped, and it's as uniquely personal as foods get. Here's what my mom said when I emailed her for the recipe:

"I made up the recipe. Crust can be removed or not. I used "salad" type fillings such as ham, tuna, egg , chicken, or whatever. I have seen recipes where they make a turkey or chicken one and put cranberry sauce in one of the layers. I always put in a speadable cheese layer -- sometimes made myself or sometimes used the little glasses of cheese spread. Often I used an olive or pickle layer. If they are not mixed with anything, such as cheese or mayo or mustard, then spread the top and bottom layers with something, so the bread does not soak up too much juice. I usually patted them dry first before putting them in the bread. I usually didn't mix the kinds of salad.--ie. not ham and tuna togther, etc. Ideas for colorful layers would be good.

I mixed something with the cream cheese to spread it. I think it was milk. One time I colored it. Always thought a sweet one would be good. Maybe like a dessert. Ground up date and nut filling, strawberries in cream cheese, maybe a canned frosting (coconut?) etc. etc. I might put a bit of confectioners sugar in the frosting for this one? Maybe use cinnamon or raisin bread? Or one of Grandpa's favorites -- cardamom bread.

Sorry no recipe. Hope this helps. Probaly never made it the same way twice. Can be made the day ahead or on the day. But cover well with saran so cream cheese won't dry out. Keep in refrig. It garnishes nicely, but would put that on at last minute. To serve, cut fairly thick, but not jumbo."

Here's what I did this time. First of all, you must locate a loaf of the unsliced soft squishy white bread that they sell as "stuffing" bread (the idea being that you rip up irregular chunks to make poultry stuffing rather than having regular slices). Apparently it's not yet close enough to Thanksgiving for supermarkets to stock it, because I couldn't find an unsliced loaf ANYWHERE. I was reduced to buying a loaf of artisanal white at the farmers' market, which is delicious but much too dense for the recipe. It doesn't blend enough with the fillings, is too chewy, and it's a bitch to slice properly when it's filled with squishy moist filling layers and covered in cream cheese.

My fillings were based on what was lurking around my kitchen gathering dust or threatening to go bad, which is I believe how this recipe came to be in the first place. It seems to be vaguely mediterranean, as conceived by mainstream American markets. I made egg salad with lots of mustard & minced onion & black pepper. I took a can of flavored black olives I've had since my parents gave it to me last christmas and attacked them with the stick blender, then added a can of tuna for extra protein. And I got a jelly glass of olive & pimento cheese food, because I adore that stuff. I used the cheese to coat both sides of that layer so I could put sliced tomatoes (salted, drained & blotted) in between.

To assemble, cut the loaf of bread into four slices horizontally (or however many slices you like that will still be stable). Put one filling on each layer, as thickly as you can without endangering structural integrity, and spread evenly all the way to the very edges. Put the top of the loaf back on and press *gently*. Take two 8oz packs of cream cheese at room temperature, and mix them with a few tablespoons of cream or milk until it's a spreadable texture. Spread the entire outside of the loaf thickly with cream cheese to keep it from drying out. It's a bit tricky not to get the fillings smeared into the frosting, but if you glob it on first and smooth it out later, it should go okay. Garnish at will.

Mine came out a little lopsided, because the thicker bread had a more irregular shape than is optimal, but it tastes just fine, kind of like a dagwood sandwich with more cream cheese than is truly healthy. But since I am the kind of girl who finds those single-serving pots of cream cheese about enough for three bites of bagel, I have no problem with that at all. *grin*


Posted by foodnerd at October 24, 2004 12:15 AM

hey, i just got to your site from IMBB. my dad LOVES "stuffed bread"...but in our house, it was always called "sandwich loaf", which doesn't sound nearly as appetizing. i can only imagine that it was a product of the fifties. cool idea for the terrine project.


Posted by: cindym at April 15, 2005 11:36 AM

Thanks! I think it has to be 50s, for sure. I've been lurking around your site too -- I can't remember how I found it, but I like it. Your subject matter and writing style are right up my alley. :-)

Posted by: foodnerd at April 18, 2005 02:40 PM
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