Recipes for Snacks and Beginnings

Something Salty

March 19, 2018

Winter just won’t give up!  Woke to seven degrees this morning – and the piles of snow which feel like they’ll be here, swaddling the house, forever.  Will spring really come?  Are we ever going to look outside and see some green?  Even the birds have deserted us – which may have something to do with the fact that I just can’t face digging through these many feet of snow to fill the feeder. Tomorrow, I think, tomorrow I’ll get out the shovel.

But today, I’m making this wonderful snack.  Nothing tastes better at the end of the day with a good glass of wine.

Layered Anchovy Bread

¾ cup warm water, 90 – 100 degrees

2 teaspoons yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 cup pastry flour

1 cup semolina flour

3 teaspoon sea salt, divided

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

6 anchovies, minced

1. Combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar in a bowl and wait for it to foam, about 5 minutes. If it does not foam, discard and start with over with fresh yeast. Either the yeast is too old, or the water may be too hot. It should be tepid at 90-100 degrees. Stir in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

2. Whisk together the pastry flour, the semolina flour, and 1 teaspoon of salt. 

3. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture. Stir the flour into the liquid until it comes together in a ball. Knead for up to 5 minutes on a floured surface, and then place in a well-oiled bowl. 

4. Cover with a moist towel and set in a warm place to rise until it is doubled in size, about an hour.  Tip: If you want to hurry things up, place the bowl inside another bowl filled with very warm water and cover it up. 

5. Meanwhile, mix 1/3 cup of olive oil, the paprika, oregano, anchovies, and one teaspoon of salt and set aside until the dough has risen. 

6. Roll the dough out into a 15 inch round, and spread all but 1 teaspoon of the anchovy mixture all over, leaving a one inch border. 

7. Beginning with the side closest to you, roll the dough into a thin jelly roll, and pinch the edges closed. Starting at one end, curl the roll into a spiral (the sides can touch), and set onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 

8. Brush the top with the remaining oil and sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the bread to rise for one hour.

Bake for 35 minutes until crusty and golden. Remove to a rack and allow to cool completely. Cut into thin slices.

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The Perfect Fried Food

March 17, 2018

We’re coming to the end of the r months – which means this is the moment to be eating oysters.  I love them every possible way – raw, in stews, baked into Rockefeller.  But I really love them fried.

They’re easier than you think – and so much better than anything you can get in a restaurant because you can snatch them from the frier and eat them while they’re still piping hot.  Hard to think of a more delicious way to celebrate St. Patrick’s day.

 

Fried Oysters

Shopping list: 1 pint oysters, 1 pint buttermilk, 2 cups cornmeal

Staples: flour, salt, oil.

You could shuck your own oysters, but unless you’re really an expert that makes the entire process a whole lot harder.  I open my own oysters to eat on the half-shell, but when I’m frying oysters I buy them pre-shucked.

Carefully drain the oysters, and put them in 2 cups of buttermilk for about 10 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or a silpat pad. Mix 2 cups of cornmeal with 2 cups of flour and a teaspoon of salt.  Pick up each oyster, shake it a bit, allowing the buttermilk to drip off before plunking it into the cornmeal mixture; toss it about so it’s coated on all sides and place it on the lined baking sheet. Do it with the next oyster, and the next….

In a deep pot heat at least 2 inches of oil until it registers 375 on a thermometer. Pick up an oyster, shake it to remove excess breading and plunk it into the oil. Fry for about a minute and a half until just golden, then remove with a slotted spoon and set on paper towels to drain. You should be able to fry 6 to 8 oysters at a time.  Bring oil back to 375 before adding a new batch. 

Sprinkle with salt and serve with plenty of fresh lemons.  Some people like tartar sauce or remoulade with their oysters, but I think that masks the delicate flavor. 

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Michael’s PIzza, Updated

November 7, 2017

If you ask Michael what he wants for dinner, nine times out of ten he says “pizza.”

Which is one way of saying, we eat a lot of pizza at our house.

A couple of years ago I published the recipe for the pizza I was making then. Since then, however, I’ve perfected my pizza technique.  The major changes are a bit of gluten in the dough, which improves the texture, more olive oil, and two kinds of mozzarella.

Here’s how I’m doing it today. Next year? Who knows?

To begin with you’ll need a  a baking steel  and a peel.  If you eat as much pizza as we do, they’re worth the investment.  Then you’ll need some time; this dough wants to rise a couple of times, at least, and I think it’s much better on day two or three.

Finally, you’ll need good anchovies and good mozzarella.

Anchovy and Caper Pizza for Michael

Dough

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup 00 Italian flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon gluten

3/4- 1  cup lukewarm water, 

3/4 teaspoon active yeast

pinch of sugar

olive oil

Mix the two flours with the salt and the gluten.  (The gluten really does give the dough a more flexible texture.)

Stir the yeast and sugar into the water. Add a tablespoon of olive oil, then mix the liquid into the flour with your hands, kneading for a few minutes until it’s combined.  It will be soft and sticky. Allow the dough to rest, unmolested, for 1o minutes, then turn it out onto a well floured surface and knead it for about 5 minutes, adding as much flour as you need to make a soft dough. Form it into a ball. 

Slick a large bowl with olive oil, turn the ball of dough so it’s completely covered with oil, cover the bowl and leave it to rise for 2 to 3 hours.  It should double.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead it again for a few minutes.  Form it into a ball. Put a bit more olive oil into the bowl, turn the dough so it’s shiny with oil and cover it again, allowing it to rise again until doubled. You can do this again – or not.

Knead it again for a few minutes, divide into two balls, refrigerate one and allow the other dough to rise again. (You can  refrigerate it for a few days, freeze it for a couple of months, or use it immediately.)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Put a baking steel on the second highest shelf in the oven and allow it to heat for an hour.  (Be very careful when it gets hot; it will be searingly hot, and not remotely touchable, even with oven mitts on.)

Stretch one piece of dough into an 8 inch round; this is the hardest part of the entire process.  Unless you know how to toss the dough into the air, it’s not easy to stretch it. Be patient.

Pizza Topping

3/4 cup canned tomatoes

olive oil

6-8 good quality anchovy filets

capers

1 ball supermarket mozzarella (the rubbery kind)

1 ball good quality buffalo mozzarella (or mozzarella from a good cheese store)

fresh basil

cornmeal

Assembling the Pizza

Coarsely mash up about 3/4 cup of canned tomatoes with a fork, then stir in a tablespoon of olive oil. 

Remove 6 – 8 anchovies from the bottle.

Drain a few tablespoons of capers.

Dice or grate about a third of a pound of supermarket mozzarella into tiny pieces. 

Shred a few leaves of basil.

Dust a pizza peel liberally with cornmeal.

Put the round of pizza dough onto the peel. Spread the tomatoes over the pizza dough. Sprinkle the diced supermarket pizza over the top, and decorate with the anchovies and capers.  Scatter the basil about. Top with pieces of the buffalo mozzarella, roughly torn apart with your fingers.  Open the oven door and very carefully shake the pizza onto the steel without touching it. (If you’ve never done this before it’s tricky, but you quickly get the hang of it.)

Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, depending on how you like your pizza. Remove with the peel; if it scoots away from you, use tongs to get it onto the peel.  Serve it hot, right on the peel.

This is dinner for 2 or snacks for 6.

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Hot, Soft Briny Clouds

June 20, 2017

I keep thinking about the fantastic fried clams I inhaled at Sayles Seafood in Nantucket last weekend.  Nothing like fresh Ipswich clams, plunked into a fryer.

I can’t get softshell clams here in the Berkshires.  I can, however, find shucked oysters.  So today I’m going to indulge in fried oysters.

I have to say…. right out of the pan, when they’re so hot they burn your fingers, fried oysters are pure pleasure.  Warm seafood clouds, sprinkled with lemon.

Fried Oysters

Shopping list: 1 pint oysters, 1 pint buttermilk, 2 cups cornmeal

Staples: flour, salt, oil.

You could shuck your own oysters, but unless you’re really an expert that makes the entire process a whole lot harder.  I open my own oysters to eat on the half-shell, but when I’m frying oysters I buy them pre-shucked.

Carefully drain the oysters, and put them in 2 cups of buttermilk for about 10 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or a silpat pad. Mix 2 cups of cornmeal with 2 cups of flour and a teaspoon of salt.  Pick up each oyster, shake it a bit, allowing the buttermilk to drip off before plunking it into the cornmeal mixture; toss it about so it’s coated on all sides and place it on the lined baking sheet. Do it with the next oyster, and the next….

In a deep pot heat at least 2 inches of oil until it registers 375 on a thermometer. Pick up an oyster, shake it to remove excess breading and plunk it into the oil. Fry for about a minute and a half until just golden, then remove with a slotted spoon and set on paper towels to drain. You should be able to fry 6 to 8 oysters at a time.  Bring oil back to 375 before adding a new batch.

Sprinkle with salt and serve with plenty of fresh lemons.  Some people like tartar sauce or remoulade with their oysters, but I think that masks the delicate flavor.

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How To Peel Farm Fresh Eggs

February 26, 2017

Bought eggs at the farmers market this morning, then decided to make deviled eggs to eat as we watch the Oscars.  Problem: fresh eggs are impossible to peel, and these were gathered yesterday.

Solution: steam the eggs for twenty minutes.  Put them into an ice water bath. Wait till they’re cool enough to handle. Roll on the counter.  Peel.

Worked like a charm: every single egg slipped happily from its shell.  No green ring. Bright orange yolks.  Lovely deviled eggs.

 

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