All the basic food groups. Making and eating these provide some of our very best comfort foods. And they’re pretty healthy, too. Let me share these dishes from the past few days.
I’ve been making two different breads with more regularity now. One is the Field Blend #2, a hybrid levain. The other — and most recent — is an Overnight 40% Whole Wheat, without levain. The process begins at about 1 PM on Saturday, mixing and autolysing the flours — in this case 60% King Arthur White Bread Flour, 38% Turkey Red Whole Wheat from Breadtopia, and 2% home-milled Rye Flour made from Sprouted Grains Rye Berries. The total is 1,000 grams of flour, for two loaves.
Later in the day I add 23 grams of Diamond Kosher salt and 4 grams of active dry yeast. After mixing those into the flour, and stretching the dough several times over the first 2 hours, I let the dough rest. By 8:00 or 9:00 PM, the bulk fermentation is essentially complete. At that point I can take the dough out of the plastic tub, cut in in half, and form two loaves. These are placed in rattan cane bannetons, placed in plastic bags, and put in the refrigerator overnight to finish their development. The next morning the breads get baked at 475º F. in Dutch ovens — covered for the first 30 minutes, then uncovered for another 15-20 minutes to finish browning. Finally, they rest on a wire rack for two hours, and then we slice and eat them.
After a relatively cool Spring, we tend to leap at the chance to make pizza when we have a warm day. I build the wood fire, Barbara makes the dough and prepares the toppings, and she rolls out the dough to a thin crust, placing each one on a wooden pizza peel, sprinkled with a handful of coarse polenta grains to help the pizza slide smoothly into the oven. Finally, I carry each peel out to the oven in the driveway — one at a time — and fire it, turning the pizza regularly for the 2-3 minutes it takes to bake each one.
This time we did three different pizzas:
- orange slices, black oil-cured olives, tomato sauce and Mozzarella (two of these)
- zucchini strips and sliced onions, tomato sauce and Mozzarella
- and my newest formulation — smashed fingerling potatoes, roasted red onion slices, fresh thyme, Pecorino and Mozzarella cheeses
While the oven was still quite hot, I fire-roasted two fresh tomatoes to use in a vegetable dish later this week. The wine was an Aglianico from Campania.
Another favorite is Paella. I had recently bought 1000 Spanish Recipes, a cookbook by Penelope Casas, and I wanted to use some of the chorizo from my last order from La Tienda. In the book I found an obscure but intriguing recipe, Paella Monocal Santa Clara, Monastic Paella with Chorizo and Olives. I modified that recipe a little by dropping out the Serrano ham and parsley, but adding 1/2 leek (diced), a little broccoli (finely chopped), some chopped leftover zucchini strips, Asian eggplant (small cubes), and white Spanish beans that I had cooked two days earlier.
(You might notice the small orange-colored smear on the recipe below. That’s from the Pimenton-flavored olive oil in the chorizo. It was on my hand as I checked the recipe during the cooking.)
A glass of the Aglianico completed the meal.