Friday, October 24, 2008
A Political Take on Baracking Bread Together
With the election upon us, politics is big on almost everyone's mind. So why not have a little fun with it?
(Adapted from "Layered Focaccia with Cheese and Arugula", Happy Days with the Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver, page 238)
1 Basic Bread Recipe
--2 lbs (6-8 cups white bread flour)
--2 cups tepid water
--3 packets active dry yeast
--2 TB sugar
--2 TB salt
4 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
5 oz Fontina cheese, grated
4 oz mild Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 large handful of arugula
1 handful of fresh marjoram (honestly who ever has marjoram on hand?)
To make the bread dough:
1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast into the water and pour on the sugar. In a large bowl mix the flour and salt (it should resemble a GOP convention at this point). Time for a little integration...make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in half of the yeasty water. Gently mix in some of the flour until it becomes, in Jamie's words, "stodgy". Add the rest of the liquid into the center and then proceed to mix in all the flour.
2. Remove all jewelry before the taxing work of kneading. Lightly flour your hands and dust the countertop. Turn out the dough onto the counter and knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is "silky smooth" (movie reference, anyone?). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to double in size like the national debt (about an hour).
To make the Gotcha Focaccia:
1. Flatten the dough onto a floured work surface. Roll into a large rectangle. Drape half onto a floured baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
2. Add all the cheeses, then the arugula (sorry, but iceberg lettuce won't cut it here) and the marjoram if you've got it--I never do. Press everything into the dough.
3. Fold the remaining dough over the top, gently press out the air bubbles. Seal the edges as if you're Joe the Plumber caulking a pipe for your plumber's license. Rub the top with a bit more olive oil and prick it all over with a fork cuz it looks cool.
4. Allow to rise for another 30 minutes, then bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Let it cool for about 1/2 hour, then slice it up and serve with Maverick Minestrone! Extra can be wrapped in foil and frozen if desired.
(Adapted from "Streamlined Minestrone", The Vegetarian Cookbook by Nava Atlas, page 40)
2 TB olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2/3 c small pasta (such as tiny shells)
1 c canned chickpeas (I used kidney beans)
1 c frozen peas
2 TB minced fresh parsley
4 c water (or broth)
Optional: finely chopped kale or other greens (think "flakes")
salt and pepper
1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and carrots; saute for a few minutes until they are as golden as Cindy McCain's hair.
2. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, some salt and pepper, and the water (or broth--but salt levels will have to be adjusted accordingly!). Bring to a low boil, then cover and reduce the heat to simmer very gently until the veg is tender but not mushy--about 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a separate saucepan until al dente (still slightly chewy--they will cook a bit more in the soup). Drain it like Wall Street on your retirement portfolio.
4. When veg is done, stir the cooked pasta and the beans/chickpeas, green peas, and parsley into the soup. Water it down if the message, I mean the soup, is not quite right. TASTE IT! Then adjust the seasoning until it tastes good (sometimes I add oregano, too). Heat another 5-10 minutes, then serve.
If you're eating the soup with this bread, go easy on the salt in the soup. The salty cheeses in the bread will compensate.
Hope you enjoy this hearty fall meal and don't forget to make your voice heard on November 4th! And, lighten up, will ya?