Archives for category: Bread

Oh, summer. Sometimes it’s 100 degrees and humid and you have a mysterious insect bite/rash on your ankle (hint: last week). And sometimes it’s perfect.

This weekend I struck gold. My family hosted cousins for a backyard picnic complete with late afternoon breezes, red wine, and tales of Italian relatives growing figs in North Providence, R.I. (it can be done!). Best of all, an early visit to the farmer’s market inspired many delicious dishes for the evening, all of which were light, fresh, and reflective of the summer season. You really can’t ask for more.

It all started in the morning when my mom and I shopped the town farmer’s market. Asparagus had never been part of the dinner equation, but who could resist these beauties?

These green asparagus tasted delicious with a quick grill on the barbecue. With just a hint of char, the stalks retained their crisp, juicy bite. Do not underestimate freshly-grown asparagus. When I was little, these grew wild behind our house. I’ve loved them ever since.

Also at the market: ruby red radishes. I was tasked with creating an interesting salad to share for the evening, and decided to go with quinoa, my personal favorite. As a vegan, I often seek out this protein-packed seed — it cooks like a grain and really satisfies. A quick survey of the kitchen revealed ripe avocados and edamame I’ve been itching to use, so I threw it together into a delicious salad, complete with a drizzle of homemade lime dressing.

Quinoa, Radish, Avocado & Edamame Salad with a Lime Dressing

1.5 cups dry quinoa

4-5 small radishes, chopped

1 ripe avocado

1 cup frozen edamame

1 lime

Olive oil & salt

To start, prepare the quinoa according to the instructions on whatever box it came in — the general rule of thumb is 2 cups water for every cup quinoa. Once all the water is absorbed and the grain cooked, fluff that pot o’ quinoa with a fork and put it in the fridge to cool for at least half an hour.

While the quinoa is cooling, cook your edamame in a pot of salted, boiling water. Important Note! Do this only briefly, and dunk them in cold water immediately afterwards so they don’t get mushy — the salad relies on the combination of crisp textures. The satisfying pop of the edamame is key.

When the quinoa is cooled, toss in the edamame. Add the chopped radishes.

Make a quick lime dressing: the juice of 1 lime, a splash of olive oil and salt to taste. Drizzle over the whole thing. I didn’t add any this time, but I think a light addition of cumin to the dressing would also work really well.

Toss the avocado on top and serve — easy!

And just because I can’t help myself: here’s the baguette from Provencal bakery that we also purchased from the farmer’s market. An all-around tasty complement to the entire meal, with a beautiful knotted and cracked-top crust.

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I’m waiting to start my second attempt at bread-making — I’ve ordered my first oven thermometer to ensure that my dough is rising and baking at the correct temperature. I’m new to this accuracy thing. Regular old cooking doesn’t necessarily demand things down to the degree Fahrenheit…I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that baking does.

As, I wait, however, I keep drifting back to bread that inspires me. Saveur had a wonderful feature on breadmaking in its May 2012 issue, which I highly recommend to other novice bread makers. The website also has a drool-worthy gallery of artisan loaves sprinkled across the United States. If I ever need convincing that a cross-country road trip is worth it — this is it.

Make This Bread -- I wish.

I’ll be baking my second loaf in the next day or two, but to bide my time I’ve been re-examining a few key loaves that have influenced my love affair with bread over the years:

1) Seven Stars — When I was at school in Providence, R.I., Seven Stars was the go-to location for delicious bread (and a cafe without Internet access…perfect for getting work done without the distraction). The bakery’s durum stick is moist, airy, with a delicious dark crust. It’s reminiscent of a sourdough in texture, but doesn’t quite go there in flavor. I love slicing this bread lengthwise, hoagie-style, for one of my favorite simple meals — the tomato sandwich. What do you get when you cross ripe, summertime tomatoes, a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, plus the dreamy crusty bookends of the durum loaf? A delicious mess, with tomato dribbling down your chin.

This artisan loaf demands attention. A beautiful airy interior pairs perfectly with ripe summertime tomatoes.2) Acme Bread — Let me introduce you to Acme’s sourdough. Like most Bay Area foodie success stories, this bread’s origins has ties to the locavore Alice Waters movement. Acme Bread was founded by Steve Sullivan, one of Water’s former bus boys at Chez Panisse, who went on to become the restaurant’s in-house baker. The company has since grown from its Berkeley, C.A. store front to a year-round stall at San Francisco’s Ferry Marketplace, the one-stop shop for city visitors seeking out local and artisan food (think gourmet blood orange vegan doughnuts and delicious pour over coffee). I was never a sourdough fan until I had this little number. I mean, look at that crust. The sourdough’s distinct flavor is due to a naturally-occurring wild yeast starter instead of baker’s yeast.

This sourdough is made with a wild yeast starter instead of traditional baker's yeast.3) Buono’s — This is an old school, Italian bakery bread with a flaky, dark smoky crust. Don’t be fooled by their website — while other bread makers spend time creating sexy marketing materials, the Buono’s crew is busy churning out delicious authentic bread again and again. My great-grandmother lived around the corner of this bakery when I was little, and I remember always scarfing down Buono’s bread (and pepper biscuits). Buono’s is a beloved favorite.

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