Mystery Food Week 2 (and Bonus Bread!)

22 Jun

Sorry it’s taken me so long to report on Week 2’s goodies. I’ve been very busy with schoolwork. Anyway, here’s what I got:

Included in last week’s bag was an enormous head of Chinese cabbage, more garlic scapes, parsley, basil, sage, oregano, rosemary, and mustard greens. Again, I ended up making some delicious soup (recipe available here) and a hearty whole-wheat rosemary-garlic focaccia.

Focaccia, for those who may not be familiar, is an Italian flatbread made using a method similar to that for making pizza dough. I make mine entirely with whole wheat flour, which has a reputation of making bread turn out dense. Fortunately, there are ways to combat this:

Bloom the yeast: Begin with 1 cup of warm (105-110 degrees F) water and then sprinkle in 2 tsp. of dry active yeast and 1.5 tsp. of sugar. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes or until it looks foamy on top. This is a sure sign that the yeast is active and ready to work.

Flour: Add to the water 1 tbsp. of olive oil, 1.5 tsp. of salt, and about 3 and a half cups of flour. I use about half regular whole wheat flour and half whole wheat pastry flour. The pastry flour is finer and helps the bread remain more tender. Since this was to be rosemary bread, I chopped up the leaves from a sprig of rosemary and added it to the dough.

Knead, knead, knead: Once the ingredients are mixed together well, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for at least 10 minutes. Give those forearms and hands a good workout! Kneading helps activate gluten in the dough which will make for a better final rise. When the dough is smooth and elastic, roll into a ball, coat lightly with oil, and put it in a bowl to rise.

Rise: The rising time for whole wheat dough is significantly longer than that for all-purpose flour dough. Leave the dough in the bowl covered with a damp tea towel for a few hours in a warm place. Overnight is best. I usually sit mine on top of the stove because it’s far away from any drafts and is likely the warmest place in the house (except for the attic in the summer…). You want the dough ball to double in size. After the long rise, punch the dough down and allow it to rise for another half hour.

Oven Prep: Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Press the dough out onto a lightly oiled baking sheet (a 1/4 sheet pan works well for this amount) and very lightly brush the top with oil. I usually also add a few spices and herbs here depending on the batch. For the one I made this week, I added a little bit of coarse salt, cracked pepper, some finely chopped garlic scapes, and some more crushed rosemary leaves. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden on top and lightly browned around the edges.

Makes about 20 pieces at 80 calories each. Cut in half if you plan to use them for dip or fondue. I like to top pieces with sautéed peppers and onions for a really filling snack. Mangia, mangia!

NoVa/DC loca-vores, cherries are now in season and they are a-MAZing. I picked up some from Toigo Orchards at the Penn Quarter FreshFarm Market last week and can’t wait for more. I suggest getting some before I eat them all…

Have a happy Monday all!

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