Monday, January 6, 2014

Bringing Home the Dough

One of the transitions that I have been going through over the past couple of years is from a two-income household to a single-income household.  That is one of the hardest obstacles to deal with.  I have been taking efforts to adjust our spending.   The punks handle it with minor grumblings.  I handle it as a challenge.

I have turned off the cable, relying on Internet streaming services.   After my iPhone was stolen last year, I down-graded to a generic flip phone without internet services.  The Nugget Wagon is paid off and gentle care is taken to keep it running until the wheels fall off. 

The biggest expenses of the month are our food purchases.  I have been trying, although not always succeeding in, cutting the grocery budget in half each week.  This requires coupons and comparison shopping.  This requires creativity in meal planning.  This requires buying less processed food and making more staples at home. 

I enjoy making bread but am still new at it.  This recipe, even though it looks like a very time consuming project, is really easy and hearty.  It is worth the extra steps and splurge of buying parsley and heads of garlic.  I was completely unprepared to make this bread.  I only had one head of garlic with several cloves removed.   I didn't have enough flour and had to substitute about a cup and a half of self-rising flour.  Even with my errors, it still turned out great. 

This recipe is from Nigella Lawson.  Her cookbooks are a delight to read.   It as though you have a gorgeous friend telling you how she makes her recipes.  I suggest if you like cookbooks that you buy a copy of How to be a Domestic Goddess.  There are recipes for tarts, scones, and fairy cakes.  One of my favorites is the baby bundts

On a side note, Nigella is how I picture myself looking in the kitchen, even though I'm closer to Ina in sexiness. 


Nigella
Ina
Garlic and Parsley Hearthbreads

How to Be a Domestic Goddess:  Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking by Nigella Lawson

3 1/2 c. white bread flour
1 pkg.  (1/4 oz.) rapid-rise yeast
1 Tb. salt
1 1/3 - 1 2/3 c. warm water
5 Tb. olive oil, plus more for greasing and pouring over the garlic
3 large or 4 small heads of garlic
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
bunch of flat-leaf parsley
salt for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a bowl.  Pour 1 1/2 cups of warm water into a measuring cup and stir in the olive oil.  Mix the liquid with the dry ingredients to make a soft but firm dough, adding more liquid as needed, and turn this out onto a surface and knead by hand until smooth, supple, and full of elastic life.  Form into a ball, wash out and dry the bowl, oil it, and turn the dough in it so it's lightly oiled all over.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise for an hour or until the dough is doubled in size.

While the bread is rising, trim the tops off the heads of garlic, making sure they remain whole, sit them in some torn-off squares of foil, dribble over some oil, and wrap them loosely.  That's to say, the packages should be baggy but the foil tightly sealed at the edges.  Cook the garlic packages for 45 minutes;  they should not be mushy by this stage but still just holding their shape.  Remove from the oven, unwrap, and let cool till you can handle them.  Turn the oven up to 400 degrees.

Tear the parsley leaves from their stems and add a good handful to the bowl of the food processor - not worrying if some stems here and there are left on - and chop.  Squeeze the soft garlic cloves out of their skins and into the bowl and process again.  Poor in enough extra-virgin olive oil to make a runny paste down the funnel, while still processing, and leave this pungent emulsion where it is while you get back to the bread.

When the dough's risen, punch it down and leave to rest for 10 minutes.  Divide the dough in half, and get out 2 sheets of baking parchment.  sit a ball of dough on each, and roll out to form a curved rectangle or bulky oval.  Then, using your hands, press out a little more.  Transfer the breads on their papers to the baking sheets, cover with tea towels and leave to rise and get puffy for about 25 minutes.

Poke your fingers all over the tops of the breads to dimple them, then go back to the processor and pulse once or twice to make sure the parsley, garlic, and oil are combined and pour this green mixture all over the corrugated flatbreads.

Put the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the breads are cooked - becoming golden in parts, with the garlic flecks a darker brown, and the rims puffing up around the oily topping.  Whip out of the oven and drizzle over a generous amount of good extra-virgin olive oil.  Sprinkle over some salt and set down on the table for people to tear greedily at with their bare hands.
 
 
This makes two of these.  Very company worthy.

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