Sunday, March 7, 2010

gifts that keep giving

Months ago, a friend of mine sent me a few books. It took me until the end of winter break to finally get around to reading and learning more about the one. The other is still waiting, sadly - that's the life of a grad student: if it doesn't happen in the summer, it's not happening until next summer. Alas. These books were the perfect pairing, too: a short novel about food and love, and a cookbook about making artisan breads in no time at all. The latter is called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and it really does deliver what it promises. Granted, I need to go out and buy a proper container to keep the dough in in the fridge, and a stone on which to bake it, but it's totally been worth it. I have a recipe that I prefer for black Russian rye in The Bread Bible, but for fluffy custard-like interiors with flaky outer crusts, the five-minutes-a-day recipes are perfect.

Above are my first two loaves. Below is how we served them: just after Imbolc, we hosted a Shabbos dinner one Friday night with Jewish and Muslim friends. None of us are really all that devout; what matters more than doctrine to us is how we live in this world, and coming together to break and share bread is one of the most important things I think we can do.

We served our slices with St. Andre triple-cream brie topped with Mt. Vikos glazed and roasted figs, which I chopped into small pieces and then poured over the cheese with their beautiful sauce. There are Boat Street Cafe pickled plums on the side, also chopped for easy spreading, and a bit of Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue cheese that you can't see.

We did a big meal that night - we tried out this salad of sauteed leeks and pear slices over frisee from Epicurious, made the Field of Greens meyer lemon beurre blanc and served it over oven-roasted fennel, mushrooms and green onions, then served one of Gordon Hammersley's killer lemon-herb roast chickens over roasted red onions with garlicky mashed potatoes on the side, and finished it off with this pine nut cake with the orange salad and big dollops of strained nonfat yogurt (which, I have to say, really, REALLY made the dish).

In short: we stuffed ourselves with citrus to welcome an early spring (which really has been an early spring, thanks to El Nino this year). It was delicious, and delightful - I only wish my book-gifting lass could have joined us. L., I'll have to make it up to you!

1 comment:

thistlewitch said...

No worries, sweetie. :) Glad you're loving the book; it's a great one!