17 May 2009

Notes From the Weekend Kitchen

I've spent the majority of my weekend in the kitchen--I love the sudden bursts of culinary productivity!

It started with picking up my CSA box from the farmer's market. Inside were these amazing sugar snap peas--they are the perfect raw snack.. crispy, slightly sweet. I stocked up on two extra quarts to last me through the week!

After picking up our box, I decided to pick strawberries before the season ends. We've been getting steady supplies through our CSA, but I like to freeze them so we can have strawberries throughout the year. The 40 lbs I picked last year lasted us until about a month ago. And, of course, nothing beats homemade, strawberry jam!

The nearly constant rain from this year has been really difficult on the strawberry crop. There were a lot of strawberries with rain damage and it was sad to see so many otherwise ripe strawberries going to waste. As I tend to clean them up as I prepare them for freezing, I tried to pick some of the not-so-beautiful strawberries. I didn't realize I had done that until I returned home and started cleaning them up. I spent almost 4 hours in the kitchen with 20-lbs of strawberries!

While I was cutting, chopping and washing the strawberries, I got inspired to make some garlic herb bread for dinner last night. As I was occupied with the strawberries, I thought that finding a bread machine recipe was the way to go. I found one that looked decent and I faithfully loaded it into my bread machine. As I checked on its progress, it seemed too soft, so after an hour or two in the machine, I took it out, kneaded it by hand and added flour until it held together better.

Was it a success? I suppose so, because as of this morning, this was all that was left:

Since I altered the recipe so much from its original form, I feel pretty good about posting the recipe that I ended up with. Some of the measurements aren't exact--I'm sorry bakers, but I am not a baker. Measuring ingredients precisely is one of the reasons why I don't bake more than I do. :)

Garlic-Herb Cheese Bread:

In a bread machine, add the following:

1 1/4 c warm water
3 c unbleached flour
2 T sugar
2 T softened butter
3 T cheese (est.) (I used sharp cheddar)
1 T yeast
5 t total - your choice of seasonings. I used two cloves garlic, oregano, salt.

I let my bread machine mix the mixture for about an hour and a half until I couldn't stand watching it any longer and thought I could do better if I kneaded it by hand. When I pulled it out of the machine, it was a very, very soft and sticky dough. I added 1/4 c flour and kneaded it until it was still soft, but less sticky. All together, I'm guessing I added a total of 3/4 c - 1 c flour.

After I was happy with the dough consistency, I folded in some extra cheese, probably about half a cup. I patted it into a medium bread loaf pan to rise for about 30 minutes.

In a preheated, 350 degree oven, I baked it for about 30 minutes and then checked it every 5-7 minutes. It took about an hour to cook altogether, but as your loaf pan may be a different size or material, I'd recommend keeping an eye on it.

The end result was delicious--the bread has an amazingly soft, light texture and as we will be fighting over the last piece, I imagine I'll be making more soon!

If you try the recipe, please let me know how it turns out!

No comments: