The final puzzle party . . . and the food that helped solve it

Unfinished puzzle

Jeffrey bought a puzzle last year. Actually, it’s not a puzzle. It is a giant beautiful beast of confusion and headache parading around in the form of a puzzle. It is Baffler #1000, also known as “The Test,” created by an artist known as Chris Yates.

We started throwing Puzzle Parties at my house after Jeffrey first bought the puzzle, since we knew it would be much more fun to have lots of people attacking the puzzle versus just one or two. (More like one – I wasn’t particularly helpful in the beginning after looking at the giant pile of 1200+ puzzle pieces with no easily discernible pattern staring back at me).

We held a total of five puzzle parties. The above photo is from Puzzle Party #4, where we almost (almost!) finished it. We threw the final Puzzle Party this past Saturday, where we finally finished “The Test” (and celebrated with champagne!) and enjoyed some tasty food along the way.

And so I present: the menu for Puzzle Party #5, THE FINAL!

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Whole wheat pizza with mushrooms and spinach

Whole wheat pizza

I wanted to do two things for dinner yesterday: utilize whole wheat flour and my brand new gorgeous KitchenAid stand mixer (thanks, Mom and Dad!). Solution: whole wheat pizza!

Pinch My Salt has a very appetizing whole wheat crust recipe with fresh rosemary, so I went with that one. She provides a “tangy tomato sauce” recipe that we followed as well.

We followed both recipes exactly, except we used my stand mixer to do the kneading (so easy!) and also used a regular pizza pan and cookie sheet for the pizzas (no pizza stone available).

For the toppings: I chopped up some crimini mushrooms (I just eyeballed it – maybe about a cup and a half) and fresh spinach (around one cup). We added a touch of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper to the mushrooms and let sit while we prepared the pizza dough and sauce. The toppings were enough for two of the four pizzas that the dough recipe will yield, and the sauce yielded just about enough for all four pies.

End result? Delicious.

Whole wheat pizza

Beer bread with whole wheat flour, cheese and rosemary

Beer bread

I was randomly searching my Google Reader for recipes yesterday and came across beer bread via Everybody Likes Sandwiches. I made some alterations based on what was available at my parents’ house – using half whole wheat flour, regular cheddar cheese (as opposed to aged), and fresh rosemary instead of dried (since my mother’s garden is overflowing with fresh sprigs). For the beer, I used Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale, which added a very strong beer taste that was a great compliment to the cheese and rosemary. Any beer will do, however.

The extra great thing about beer bread is that it’s so easy – measure out the dry ingredients, slowly add the beer and mix until just combined, bake, and it’s done.

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar [I only had access to powdered sugar, and it worked fine]
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fresh or dried rosemary
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 bottle/can of beer

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together all the dry ingredients (everything except the beer). Slowly pour in the beer and stir until just combined. Spread batter into a loaf pan (at least 8 inches – I think a 9 inch pan may have been a little better), greased with either butter/flour or cooking spray.

Optional step: I melted about 1/4 cup of butter and poured over the top of the batter after spreading the batter in the loaf plan.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes, until the top of the loaf turns golden brown and a toothpick or knife inserted into the loaf comes out clean. Cool for about 10 minutes before removing loaf from pan, then let cool for a few additional minutes before enjoying.