A while back we were passing through our local market one Sunday morning, trying desperately not to eat everything in sight. There was a woman promoting her new book and handing out recipe cards, which Poppy needed to have.
The card got filed in with the shopping. When we got home it got removed from the market bag, a little damp from something or other. I put the card in a catch everything basket on the counter. It stayed there for a couple weeks. Then, in a flurry of tidying up, it got put in a drawer.
I remembered the card and started a little search for it which turned into a frustrating and exhaustive tidy up and sort out of the drawer. There it was, finally, nestled between some cookie cutters and cupcake wrappers right up against the last six weeks worth of supermarket receipts and an empty package of throat lozenges.
It was a recipe aimed at men to promote a book aimed at men, insinuating that men need to eat different things than women, or at least cook different things. I am not sure. Regardless, it looked like this recipe could turn out well so Tilly and I made it.
The whole time, I thought about the man recipe thing and my thoughts turned to this. I realized that, at our house, the man drawer is mine. It is in the kitchen, it isn’t full of lightbulbs and batteries. It is full of piping tips that haven’t made it back into the case, clips and closures, thread and pens, chokey bits of toy hastily hidden from a curious baby and lots of random notes, recipes and clippings and it is full to spilling out. The kind of spilling out that takes a hip to shut it while you smooth the top layer down while carefully trying to extract your hands before you scrape your knuckles.
The man area at our house is very well ordered. Sure, there are some useless bits of junk and some empty wrappers but it is all tucked away in a quite carefully organised corner of the basement, so far from the bottom of the stairs that I only venture down there in the direst of cases. Safe from the clutter and mess of the rest of the house. A dark and peaceful little haven.
So, I did what I do and we made this man recipe an little trickier, if sautéing onions is tricky. And, I lightened it up using a lighter beer than it called for - the original called for a stout and I used Stone Levitation Ale, a hoppy little local number. I foofooed it up with the tiniest bit of oregano, dried because I can’t stomach fresh in any quantity. If my children weren’t eating it, I would have chucked it full of something spicy too.
The result was a loaf worth accompanying even the ladiest of winter pots. It is quick enough to make after a day out to go with whatever has been in your slow cooker all day. It is tasty enough to want to make more than once. It is really gorgeous toasted and would be pretty damn fine with some eggs and mushrooms.
Technically, it isn’t Man Bread, it is Anybody Bread. Unfortunately, this means you’ll have more competition getting a slice.
Cheddar Onion Beer Bread adapted from a recipe by Susan C. Russo
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, I used a 2 year old number
1 cup sautéed onions, cooled
A few grinds of fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
12 ounce (350 mL) flavourful ale of your choice
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Butter an 8-inch x 4-inch loaf pan.
Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Stir in cheese. Stir in onions.
Pour beer in and mix all ingredients until combined.
Pour into prepared tin.
Bake for around 40 minutes. When a tester comes out clean, it is done.
Cool for a few minutes before slicing.