pepper bisque & pretty pesto bread

Another time I made the bread.

I dreamt up this soup and bread combo after eating at a restaurant in Baltimore. They served a tomato bisque with a pesto and goat cheese blend sitting on a crouton. In my mind the shabby crouton became a lovely loaf of bread which I paired with a sweeter pepper soup.

My vision became an adventure that all started when my best friend Ashley came over today for the most fun farmers market trip of all time…

If you ever find yourself in Deland on a Saturday morning, I suggest you go to the farmers market. The peppers pictured above were 3 for $1! All the produce was extremely fresh and cheap. I spent $5 and bought: 3 yellow peppers, 2 red peppers, 5 tomatoes, and a small bushel of bananas.

While we were walking, a man asked us if Darwin was “a killer,” at least 2 others asked if he bit, and one meanie shooed him away from a table. This farmers market wasn’t very dog friendly and as you can see from the background in the next picture, not ritzy at all. However, what it lacked in glamour, it made up for in price and quality.

The open tables consisted of cheap planks on rickety frames and were absolutely brimming with produce. I was reminded of the open-air markets in South America. I visited Equador and Mexico a number of times in my youth and remember the trips fondly. Just like in South America, the people around us at the market haggled freely and tried to get even better deals.

A gaucho taking a siesta.

Stands like this one littered the market grounds. There were women outside cooking in huge pots and little plank tables set up for their customers.

This whole bunch of sweet peppers was only $1.

Ashley couldn’t resist the allure of the sweet peppers and ended up taking a whole mess of them home.

Cooking the Pepper Bisque

I started by covering 2 tomatos, 2 red peppers, 3 yellow peppers in olive oil and garlic powder. Then the whole lot of them went into the oven to roast. Once they were cooked and cooled, Ashley helped me remove all the skins and seeds. Next, the fruits and veggies went into my magic bullet with a handful of fresh Italian basil. I emptied the pureed mixture into a medium sized pot and added a container of heavy cream, more garlic powder, a cup of water, and a couple of teaspoons of “better than bullion” (the chicken flavor).

My best friend Annick introduced me to “better than bullion” and it has replaced chicken stock in many (but not all) of my recipes. With it you get a kick of flavor without having to water down whatever you are cooking like you would if you added chicken broth. Also, less salt is needed when you cook with it. I didn’t add any salt at all to this recipe because I used it.

The pepper soup turned out to be delicious and very rich. A perfect winter soup. However, it ended up a lighter color than I wanted. I think I either added too much heavy cream or needed to add a couple more peppers. Next time I will try adding less cream and another pepper. Again, I have no qualms with the taste, but the showman in me expects better.

Baking the Pretty Pesto Bread

I started by covering a clean countertop with four. Then I started to roll out the pound of french bread dough I bought from Publix. Because I was wrist deep in flour, Ashley was sweet enough to take most of the bread pictures for me.

After rolling the dough out a little, I let it rise for 45 minutes before stretching it and rolling it out a little more. Once I was satisfied with the size and shape of the rolled dough, I covered it in a mixture of pesto and goat cheese. I used about 1/2 a packet of goat cheese and 1/2 a tupperware of pesto.

Once the dough was covered I rolled it calzone style. Before baking, you have to pierce the dough by taking a fork and poking holes into it. If you do not pierce the dough, you will likely get unwanted air pockets and your bread will not look pretty.

Lastly, I used a paint brush to give the top of the dough an egg bath. Ashley reminded me of this crucial step. Without her instruction I would not have known how to do it. When the dough was glistening with its egg coating I added 3 leaves of Italian Basil. The Basil got a quick coating of egg and the dough was ready.

A picture from the other time I made the bread.

We baked the bread at 350 degrees on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Neither of us really tracked the time, we just watched the bread to make sure that it looked done before we took it out of the oven. You’ll know when it looks golden brown and the pesto goat cheese mix is bubbling.

The pretty pesto bread was the belle of the ball today. The bread had the same consistency as french bread, but with the added flavors and creamy textures of the pesto and goat cheese. I can really see this becoming a family favorite!

Ashley, thanks again for coming and having a wonderful day with me:]

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9 thoughts on “pepper bisque & pretty pesto bread

  1. I had so much fun on our cooking adventure!!!! …and that is seriously one of the best bread recipes I have EVER had! My little sister and I are going to duplicate it for dinner tomorrow! Love you!

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