Friday, April 24, 2009

Bri’s Best Bread 2.0

olive oil

2 tsp dry active yeast

1 cup wrist temp water

1tsp salt

1tbl honey or sugar

1 ½ cups wheat flour

1 ½ cups white flour

garlic, finely chopped (roasted or sautéed for more flavor)

about 1tbl your desired combination of fresh ground flaxseed, sesame seed, rosemary, pepper, garlic salt, basil, and the like.

  • Place water in olive-oiled bowl and sprinkle in yeast, stir gently and let sit for five minutes.
  • Add honey and salt, and stir until dissolved, then add garlic and spices.
  • Add flour cup by cup, first stirring, and then kneading. Knead for a few minutes, adding flour and/or olive oil as needed until it's all good and doughy.
  • Oil a bowl, plop the dough in, and add more oil to the surface and cover with a cloth (be sure the bowl is at least twice the size of the dough before its risen and that the cloth won't hit the dough at any point) put in a warm spot and let rise for one hour, or until its doubled in size.
  • Punch down dough, knead a bit and let rise 20-30 minutes more, or, if you're impatient as me, get out the baking tray now.
  • Oil a baking tray, then begin stretching out the dough as if for a pizza in the air, then press it out into the pan, and brush the top with oil.
  • Bake it until lightly brown on edges, then put the pan on the bottom to brown the top (if you add some grated cheese before this last bit, you'll have a yummy slightly crunchy, cheesy foccacia)
  • Enjoy!

The first version of this bread was inspired by Mollie Katzen's Focaccia recipe, and I made it all the time! I developed this new version because I finally got access to wheat flour, and a friend who told me to grind and add flaxseed. Experiment with different types of flour to find your desired combination. The first picture is me kneading (one of my favorite hobbies now) and the second picture is of my awesome bread-rising apparatus. Since I often make Pumpkin Curry Chickpea soup (or any kind of soup really) to go along with the bread, the hour or so it takes those dang chickpeas to cook is a great time to put the energy you're already using to a second purpose-to rise the dough! They end up being done at just about the same time, and it's a wonderful hot (though a bit carb-heavy, oops) meal for cold winter nights. Though lhamdullah those cold winter nights are over! I'll try and start bringing you cooler, happy spring dishes now!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Figuigi Green Beans

¼ kilo green beans

¼ cup chopped almonds

1 tbl. or about half a small lemons worth of juice

salt and/or garlic salt

olive oil

  • Bring some water to a boil while you pop the ends off the green beans; if they're real long break them in half as well.
  • Put the green beans in the boiling water 5-10 minutes, just until tender. While they're cooking, slice the almonds, lengthwise or however you prefer.
  • Heat a skillet with some olive oil, drain the green beans and throw them in. Stir them up a bit, and then throw in the salt, almonds and lemon juice. Sauté it all until the almonds darken (or even burn just a bit, mmm).
  • Lay it out on a plate and enjoy!

I first had this as a side dish while at Bob and Linda's in Figuig for the weaving training. They have since finished their service and returned to the states, but were truly great volunteers. Aside from their great work with the women in Figuig, I am grateful to them for introducing me to Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook. Mollie has since inspired many of my cooking, particularly kneading, ventures. This green bean dish is really a great appetizer or side dish, but I admit I'll make it for dinner any chance I get.

When Raindrops Keep Fallin on my Head and We’re all Qmin’ at Natalie’s House Tomato Soup

2 ½ tbl butter

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tbl or more dried basil

2 tbl flour

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

¼ cup tomato paste

dash of baking soda

salt and pepper as you like

½-1 cup peas (I generally shuck about a ¼ kilo and it's a good amount)

2 cups vegetable stock or water

dash balsamic vinegar

½ cup milk or plain yogurt

  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan and sauté garlic, onion and basil for 5 minutes or so.
  • Stir in flour, then tomatoes, tomato paste, peas, baking soda, salt and pepper, and stock or water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Let it cool enough to be safe in the blender and puree it until smooth.
  • Return the soup to the pot, heat, and add vinegar and milk or yogurt.
  • Enjoy!

This soup is oober yummy and warming while its freezing and snowing outside. As the long title says, this soup was created at Natalie's when she had me and my cats over for a few days because it was literally pouring inside my house. I realize tomatoes are not really in season in the winter, but they are grown nearly year-round in Agadir (the California of Morocco). I pretty much keep strictly to seasonal foods here, but they do keep tomatoes abundantly available and importing from Agadir is not nearly as bad, I would say, as pineapples in January from South America to Missouri. Anyhow, not my best defense, but this soup is just too darn good. And peas, which are high in protein, really do have a limited season and I'm trying to use them in everything before they are gone for the year. This soup goes great with yogurt basil biscuits, which are in the PC Morocco cookbook, or my famous wheat focaccia, the recipe of which I'll post here soon. Also, our foolish friend Jed accidently left his real Italian parmesan cheese, so we grated in some of that too, and it was better than icing on a cake.