February 1, 2011

Two Mondays have passed with meatless meals on our table and the camera and keyboard left idle. I’ve been busy, really too busy to have time to play in the kitchen, so I am relying on my favorite standby meals.

Last week, we enjoyed Split Pea Soup, one of our favorite weeknight meals, with a loaf of foccacia and some cookies, this soup makes for a satisfying, filling, winter-ready meal in under an hour. Yes, the cookies, too. (The focaccia can be made at breakfast, given a cool rise in the fridge, and cooked off in that same hour.)

Yesterday, with threats of more dreadful weather on the way, I turned to the freezer, where I found blanched chopped spinach and oven roasted tomato sauce. With the addition of eggs, flour and some homemade ricotta, we had manicotti ready to eat in that same hour. Add a winter salad of slivered fennel and radishes, sprinkled with coarse salt, spritzed with lemon, and another easy, satisfying meal is on the table on a busy Monday night. I wished for cookies, but I ran out of steam.

Today, I’m busy with many kitchen projects. I’ll be telling you about all of them, soon, I promise. I’m particularly jazzed about the pasta fagioli I’m making. I had forgotten this recipe, one Dennis and I enjoyed almost every time we were snowed in during our early years of marriage. I woke up this morning thinking about that creamy bean and pasta soup, with a slurp of green fruity olive oil over the top. We’ll be enjoying it tomorrow, when the ice storm is supposed to be here. I’ll post the recipe then. As long as there’s power.

So, for now, stay warm and eat well.

Two 12 x 12 foccacias

1-1/2 t active dry yeast
1 c warm water
3 T olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 T chopped herbs – I like rosemary
1 T chopped preserved lemon
2 to 2-1/2 c all purpose flour
3 Tbls Olive oil
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp preserved lemon
1 tsp Coarse salt

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and allow it to sit and bloom for 5 minutes, until small bubbles start to form.

Add one cup of the flour and stir well. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

Add another cup of the flour and the herbs, lemon and salt and stir to a shaggy mass. Turn out to a floured countertop or board and allow the dough to rest and absorb the flour while you rinse out the bowl, dry well and lightly oil it. (About 10 minutes.)

Gently turn and knead the dough until it’s smooth. Try to add as little additional flour as possible. Don’t worry if it’s a little sticky.

Turn to coat in the oil in the bowl, then cover and allow it to rise for an hour. (Or place in the refrigerator and allow to rise slowly for up to 8 hours)

Preheat the oven to 450° and prepare a sheet pan with a sheet of parchment. Brush the parchment with oil.

Using a plastic dough scraper, remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a parchment lined sheet pan. Press the dough out into a rectangle. If it is bouncing back, let it rest for awhile longer, then divide and press it out into a two squares. Dimple it all over with your fingertips. Allow it to rest for 20 minutes.

Warm the 3 T olive oil in a small sauce pan. Add the herbs and lemon and turn the heat off. Allow to steep for 15 minutes.

Brush with the infused olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. The internal temperature will register 190° when it is done.

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