No-Knead Bread

In the morning, I have a habit of flipping through How to Cook Everything over breakfast. I’ll open to a random page and skim a few recipes, then move on with my day. A few weeks ago I did this and found the page for Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread. It sounded fascinating – bread you barely touch that comes out fancy and artisanal? Rock on! I finally got a chance to try it over the weekend, and I now believe this is one of the best things I’ve ever made. If I made this for a person I was trying to court he’d fall in love with me instantly. Kings would bow to me and presidents would give me medals.

I am convinced this bread ends wars.

I won’t post the recipe here for two reasons. One: mine came directly from a copyrighted book and I respect intellectual property rights. Two: it’s really easy to find online. I will, however, share the process.

 This was my first attempt at the dough. It was entirely too wet and I ended up pitching it. (Side note: too-wet whole wheat bread dough makes an incredibly convincing fake puke.)

 The second attempt, and the one that worked out. It’s wet and shaggy, per instructions, but not too wet. At this point, before the first (18-hour!) rise, I was not entirely convinced this would work.

 After a few hours it was obvious the yeast was behaving exactly as it was supposed to. Good yeast!

 And after the 18 hours had passed, the dough looked like the best and most delicious kind of swamp beast. Success! At this point the dough also had a lovely slightly sour flavor, which made me want to figure out no-knead sourdough bread.

 The loaf about to go into the oven. I used a small amount of oat bran during the last rising to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface, and also because oat bran is awesome and deserves to be in everything, more or less.

 Is this not one of the prettiest things you’ve ever seen? I had to let it sit for 30 minutes before I could cut it, during which time I nearly went mad with desire. The smell. You can’t imagine how good it smells.

 The delicious perfect chewy air-holey interior that takes oh so well to a smear of butter or a fried egg.

I may have to make more tonight.

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Summer sauce

This week I came home with about 3 pounds of tomatoes. On top of that I had equal amounts of squash, 3 fresh onions, and a bunch of cucumbers (but those aren’t important to the story).

In addition to the tomatoes I got, I already had about a pound. What does one do with four pounds of tomatoes, and the squash and the onions and everything else?

Sauce!

This is the beginning of what I’m calling summer sauce. It blurs the line between chunky spaghetti sauce and ratatouille (sans eggplant).

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In this pot, you will find: three small onions, chopped and sauteed; a whole head of garlic, also sauteed; 2-3 pounds of pattypan and summer squash, chopped; a pint or two of cherry tomatoes, whole; 2 pounds of regular tomatoes, chopped; water; salt/pepper/other seasonings.

I brought it to a boil and now I’m letting it simmer for a few hours. I’m about an hour in and right now it’s looking pretty good. I’ll serve it with whole wheat pasta and meatballs. Yum!

Protopickles!

The farm share warned us that we would get a lot of cucumbers this week. And boy howdy did we ever. My half-share came out to two pounds. That is a hefty amount of cucumbers for one person to eat in a week.

Inspired by a recent-ish Fresh Air interview about fermented foods, I decided this week’s cucumbers would make ideal pickles. And so I present, protopickles. They’ll graduate into real edible foodstuffs Monday or Tuesday, but will be at their best in about two weeks, according to this very helpful blog post.

The whole process took me about half an hour, and I ended up with 6 pint jars full, and some spears left over to munch on. I’m looking forward to ripping into them this week and seeing how they went.

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Everything you need to make pickles: kosher salt (couldn’t find brining salt), apple cider vinegar, cucumbers, garlic, dill.

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This cuke is longer than a chef’s knife. It took up almost 3 jars by itself.

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My beautiful protopickles on their first day of life. Happy birthday guys!

Let’s play a game!

Hey everyone, it’s time for a game I’m calling What Would Happen If?

What would happen if I marinated a couple pounds of chicken in the juice of two lemons (with the lemon halves, why not), some oil, two fresh garlic cloves, salt, pepper, parsley, and tarragon?

And what would happen if I baked all that up tomorrow with some roasted potatoes and yogurt-cucumber-tomato sauce?

We’ll find out soon! Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion of…

What Would Happen If?