Spaghetti with haricots and olive tapenade; cheeses with crackers – 6 August 2011

D cooked one of his special dishes tonight, at my suggestion. We had a lot of haricots, since I bought a discount bag at the Bowl earlier in the week, and this is a terrific way to use them. It’s a pasta he has cooked often, but it still feels pretty luxurious.

The dish begins with a tapenade of Gaeta olives, which fortunately the Bowl seems to carry regularly, garlic, anchovies, olive oil, and cognac. D boils the pasta water, then cooks the haricots in it for 2 minutes, removes them, and tosses in the spaghetti. The tapenade and haricots are served over the pasta, and it is up to us to toss them gently together. I need “fish-as-a-flavoring” for a tag. Can’t label this one meatless, in case a vegetarian is looking for a good meal to try, so I have to go with “meat-as-a-flavoring”.

We were going to have bread and cheese while the pasta cooked, but D decided to run to the Bowl and get some crackers to have our cheese with because the bread was running late. He got Carr’s water crackers, and they were excellent. We had the rest of the “Bonne Bouche” cheese from Vermont (via the Cheese Board) that we started Thursday night before the City meeting, and also some planed slices of a new cheese D bought, that he and R had tasted at the Bowl. It’s called Bellavitana Espresso, and it’s quite delicious. Seems actually to have espresso grounds pressed on the outside.

We forgot to start a bread last night, which left us a few options, including buying bread, having a pizza instead, or … think of it!… making kneaded bread! We did that, but cooked it in the manner of no-knead bread. I had to make up the recipe, so I looked at the Tassajara Bread Book and my Classical Italian Cooking pugliese recipe, the two of which agreed that the ratio was about 1 Tbsp yeast to 3 cups of flour. [Contrast this to no-knead bread’s 1/4 tsp yeast to 3 cups of flour!] I started with less water than I thought I’d need (1 3/8 cups – i.e. less than 1 1/2 cups), microwaved it 15 seconds to warm it, added the yeast, and let it dissolve. I mixed 3 cups King Arthur bread flour (the one in the blue bag) and 1 1/2 tsp salt, which is what we use in the no-knead bread, and then stirred in the water/yeast mixture. I ended up adding a bit more water to get all the flour wet, but was pretty conservative about it. The dough seemed dryer than my pizza dough (the only thing I knead nowadays) but I kneaded it for 7 – 8 minutes and it ended up feeling pretty good. I didn’t want to coat it in oil as one usually does, b/c I thought that might soften the crust, so I just wetted the top a bit with water so it would not dry out, covered the bowl with plastic wrap, and left it in the sun. Oh actually, I heated it briefly in the oven, but the sun did most of the work. We punched it down after about 1 1/2 hours, and put it back into the bowl, then lighted the stove an hour later. After another what… 20 minutes or so?… D eased the dough away from the bowl, in doing so compressing it back down a bit (it had re-risen massively,and filled the large bowl) and plopped it into the heated Dutch oven. We cooked it as we usually do no-knead bread: covered for 40 minutes, uncovered for 20, except that we took it out after only 15+ minutes instead of 20 uncovered, and it was fine. But wow, the texture is so different!!!

It’s like regular bread or something 🙂 I am thinking of having a fried egg and toast tomorrow b/c I think it will be interesting toast. Anyway, it was good but really different from our usual bread, which I prefer. We think if we do this again that the bread should be taken out of the bowl and proofed on a board as we usually do, so it is not compressed at the last minute. I’m not sure that is what made the difference, but it will be interesting to try.

It was still beautiful, though 🙂

D chose a Villacreses for this dinner, but the bottle was corked 😦 However, he then brought up an Haut-bana (Bordeaux, Medoc) from Eric Stauffenegger, which was truly wonderful with both cheeses, and fine with the pasta. As a bonus, it cost only $14. Fortunately, we have a couple more bottles of this one, or at least one, says D.

In this picture, the bread it turned on its cut side, which allows it to survive better overnight without drying out too much.

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