Now more than ever, it’s important for us to have fun in the kitchen. With colder weather coming and the possibility of another COVID surge forcing us indoors, enjoying time prepping meals and cooking is a worthy goal. One way to boost the fun factor is to make something that’s also fun to eat. A stuffed bread bowl is just that.
There’s nothing complicated about it. A stuffed bread bowl is a hollowed-out round loaf filled with a chunky or creamy kind of sauce or dip. And dip is what you do, using chunks of bread taken from the loaf. It’s a perfect snack for TV sports fans; a fun family meal, served with a salad; or a tasty hors d’oeuvre for a (safe) gathering of a few friends on the deck or patio.
My first “bowl” was stuffed with melted Brie cheese, a recipe that made the rounds many years ago and quickly became one of my favorite hors d’oeuvres for casual entertaining. It’s quite simple to make: You cut a large circle in the top of a round loaf (also known as a French boule) of sourdough, peasant, or Italian bread, and carve out the insides, leaving the remaining bread “bowl” about ¾-inch thick on the sides and bottom. The bread pulled from the loaf is cut into bite-size chunks and toasted. You brush the inside of the bowl with garlic and olive oil, fill it with chunks of Brie, and bake it for 30 minutes to melt the cheese. Similar to eating fondue, folks use the bread chunks to scoop up the melted Brie. After the cheese is mostly gone, you cut the bread bowl into wedges and everyone can nibble on those. This is fun, no-waste eating.
Naturally, one can take this basic idea in many directions by filling a loaf with all kinds of tasty, melty things. Think pizza, Sloppy Joes, and your favorite oniony dip. The only requirement is that the filling be scoopable with bread chunks or vegetables, crackers, or chips.
Speaking of scooping, sharing food during the coronavirus will require spoons. And lots of them. Better than using long fondue forks or metal skewers to keep folks at arms-length, it’s best and safest to have guests spoon a portion of the filling onto their own plates along with a handful of bread chunks. Yes, we can follow the rules and still have fun.
Lisa Zwirn can be reached at email@example.com