Man. Ain’t that the life?
Yeah, it sure is.
The other night, T really pulled out all the stops to make grilled chicken (Iraqi yellow spice rub), cherry sauce (using dried tart cherries we got last fall at SuperTehran, the Iranian supermarket), oven roasted potatoes, grilled eggplant, stir-fried Swiss chard (from OUR garden!), various herbs and flowers from the garden, and Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru 1990 wine that has been in the basement since early winter 1991 or so, (continue reading )
Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Pain au Levain
Making good bread is a matter of controlling variables; there is no one magic ingredient that, on its own, will elevate your bread to sublime status. – Richard Miscovich, From the Wood-Fired Oven, p119
This month, Cathy (Bread Experience) chose Pain au Levain, from a recipe in “From The Wood-Fired Oven” by Richard Miscovich, for the BBBabes to bake. I can’t help thinking about how I would have reacted before – even a year ago – to Cathy’s announcement. My heart would have been pounding and mouth dry as I tried to think of any excuse at all not to make this month’s bread. I was like Kaitlyn Bailey:
I had no experience making sourdough, so parenthood began with a thorough scour of the internet. I quickly learned that I was […] entering a cult-like subset of the baking world, whose members spend their weekends worshiping yeast cultures and driving far and wide in search of the perfect flour mix.
One of the blogs I read insisted that sourdough couldn’t be made from a recipe, and instead suggested that a beginner start by spending time getting to know their dough and then just “follow their instincts.” Unfortunately, my dough wasn’t very chatty, and my instincts were telling me that I shouldn’t use the funky-smelling jar in my fridge for something I was going to eat.
– Kaitlyn Bailey, Sourdough starter: How I learned to love my yeast beast, Globe and Mail, 24 May 2018
But, thanks to Jane Mason’s book “All You Knead is Bread”, all that has changed. Our Mason starter, that has been valiantly bubbling since last July, is better than ever. The fear of making naturally leavened bread has gone entirely.
We LOVE our bread made with Jane Mason Starter!
I got Richard Miscovich’s book out of the library, started reading it, and began dreaming about having our own wood-fired oven….
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Until recently, people here [in Easter Carolina] never really messed around with experiments like eggplant or fancy peppers. Herbs were something we bought dried and, aside from sage, rarely used. […] [A]nd asparagus grew out of a can. – Vivian Howard, Summer Squash, Deep Run Roots, p335
Things were not unsimilar in the mostly frozen north when I was growing up. Except that in the summer, Mum would hand us some scissors for us to venture out into the garden to snip chives to put into potato salad. Potato salad that was made with just 5 ingredients: boiled potatoes, miracle whip, chives, salt, and pepper. Not too much pepper though….
How times have changed….
I don’t remember having asparagus at home when I was growing up – but it seems to me that it would have been served when we went to our great aunt’s house for dinner. And, after hearing Mum’s low voice aside to me of “Don’t be silly. Eat up” for the umpteenth time, I would have choked down the lone spear that would have been, to my horror, limply lying there, glistening grey-green, on the plate beside the potatoes and slice of roasted meat.
I still go out the garden with scissors to get chives. But they don’t go into potato salad. Oh my no. They’re for making Tartar Sauce, or garnishing hard boiled eggs, or asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce. (continue reading )
Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Red Pepper Coques
The snow has gone at last; the forsythia is just at the end of its blooming; the garden is greening – just in time for making May’s BBB bread on the barbecue! Karen K (Karen’s Kitchen Stories) chose a recipe for Red Pepper Coques. Or, if you’re making just one, a red pepper coca.
Coca is a type of pastry from Catalonia. The salty version of the coca looks very similar to a pizza, except that it is rectangular instead of round and is seldom prepared using cheese.
There are four main types of coca: the savory coca, the sweet coca, the closed coca, and the open coca. The sweet cocas are prepared with dough that has, among other ingredients, eggs and sugar. But if the coca is savory, yeast and salt will be added to the dough. […]
Some of the most popular coques in Catalonia are the coca de xulla, prepared with bacon and other varieties of meat, coca de San Joan, and coca de recapte, a savory coca prepared with a variety of vegetables and sometimes fish.
– Paula, Sh Barcelona | Catalan recipes: Coca de recapte
When I lived in Catalunya, one of my favorite things to buy in a few local bakeries was a slice of coca. It’s kind of a Spanish pizza or flatbread, but with some key differences – while toppings vary, most have no sauce and no cheese.
– Caroline, Caroline’s Cooking: Catalan Coca (Spanish Pizza)
Coca is more or less the Catalan pizza […] The word itself derives, it seems, from the Latin coquere, cooking, and is used not only in Catalonia but also in the old Occitan language of the neighboring Toulouse and its surroundings. […] Savory cocas differ from pizzas not only in their usual shape, but in that they hardly ever carry cheese and herbs as a garnish, plus it is traditional to serve them at room temperature. I
– Coleman Andrews, Catalan Cuisine, p.___
A Catalan specialty, coca mallorquina […] has a tart-like, crumbly, olive oil-rich dough that’s topped with roasted vegetables and peppers, and then baked in a wood oven before it’s eaten at room temperature; on Mallorca, coca can be found everywhere, from the homes of sharecropping families to bakeries.
– Amanda Arnold, SAVEUR magazine No.??, This is a Love Story Between a Man and a Red Pepper Tart
Coca de recapte is a direct relative of savory flatbreads developed by Greeks, Romans and Arabs, which also gave rise to Italian pizza, French pissaladière, Turkish pide and Armenian lahmacun, among others. It’s difficult to trace the exact origins of coca de recapte, but they are probably linked to the arrival of the Romans to the eastern part of the Iberian Peninsula, followed by the Arabs. In fact, many round coques (also called roscos or tortells) are connected with pre-Christian sun cults, as well as with some Roman religious celebrations, such as Saturnalia. […]
In Catalonia, the most traditional coca de recapte is made with escalivada, a preparation of roasted eggplant, red peppers and onions, sometimes also topped with sardine fillets, fresh or tinned, or butifarra and onion or spinach and pine nuts.
– Paula Mourenze, Culinary Backstreets, Barcelona | Coca de Recapte: Flat Food
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