Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Rosemary Bread

70 degrees F in Rome. -15 degrees F in MN. And going down to -25 degrees F this weekend. You bet I'm looking for the Mediterranean.

This is when everyone gets along. Everyone cuddles.

The angels are put away. The tree remains. There have been improvements. Luce doesn't always live in the middle of the tree.

Sometimes he sleeps under it.

(What's that joke? 2 cats are in a bar drinking. One cats says, "So they bring in this tree and hang sparkly, dangly things on it and expect me not to touch it. That's why I drink.") Luce doesn't drink. He goes for the tree!

I missed the blog. Your blogs. I missed the (somewhat studied) nonchalant way of putting words to paper. And connecting - that's what I missed the most. There's a lot of happy "throw-ricotta-and-herbs-and-olive-oil" together and celebrate in blogging. Playwrighting is more of the "tear-your-hair-out-bite-your-nails-my-last-ten-pages-were-crap" sort of thing. And inexplicably, I love it. Later. After it's written and I'm working on it with others.

So before I get to the bread - I was writing about bread I think - one more segue. During rehearsals for a reading of And the Universe Didn't Blink, I discovered how social my cats really are. Pippin slept at the foot of the actors and Luce - well Luce - he was in the midst of it. When a giggle came during a dramatic scene, you knew Luce was stealing the stage. It was even suggested that I write Luce into the script. Because every arctic explorer needs an arctic cat...

When the deep freeze came, my kitchen turned to bread and soups. I love these breads because they're small - personalized. A small boule for each diner. And even if it hurts to be outside, inside it's all about the warmth.

Rosemary Bread - from the Food network
1 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and serving
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons rosemary (they called for dried - don't like those twigs - used fresh and used more)
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Stir the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup warm water in large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer). Let sit until all foamy and frothy - 5 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the flour, 1-1/2 tablespoons of the rosemary, the fine salt and 3/4 cup warm water. Stir with a wooden spoon (or with dough hook if using a mixer) until a dough forms.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface (dust lightly with flour if necessary) until smooth and elastic - about ten minutes. (Or knead with dough hook on medium-high speed - about 8 minutes).

Brush a large bowl with olive oil. Add the dough, cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until more than doubled - about 2 hours.

Brush 2 baking sheets with olive oil. Flour a work surface and the turn the dough onto the flour and divide into 4 pieces.  Sprinkle some flour on the pieces, and working with one at a time (duh!) fold the top and bottom portions into the middle. Fold in the side to make a free-form square. Turn dough over (may use a spatula), tuck cover under to form a ball (I just formed a ball). Place seam-side down on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, placing two dough-balls on each baking sheet. Let stand, uncovered, until more than doubled - about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the loaves for 10 minutes, brush with remaining olive oil, sprinkle with Kosher salt and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary Continue baking until golden brown - about 10 more minutes. Transfer rack to cool. Serve with olive oil sprinkled with pepper. (We slathered butter on it.)

It goes really well with this French vegetable soup I seem to made every week from Manger. Find that here.

I wish you magic and wonder for 2014. Look at the sky and wonder. Wish upon a star. Enjoy the winterscape if you have one - it will give birth to new wonders. (Even on my iceberg.) Happy 2014! May it be a fruitful journey.