Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Kale, Bacon and Bread

Lately (by lately I mean the last 4-5 years) I've been having trouble finding decent bread.  There is a nice bakery in town, but with little variety and the hours don't suit me.  Other than that it's Meijer or County Market - I need not say more.  Every so often I tell myself I will make it my goal to bake my own bread this week.  So with my recent spare time, I searched through all my cookbooks and piles of pulled magazine pages and newspaper clippings to find, thus far, a great bread recipe.  I have been working on it for a few weeks and am fairly happy with the results - dark brown and crusty on the outside, chewy and soft on the inside. 

Along with the bread (not that I need something else because god knows I can eat a whole loaf in one sitting), I decided to go with a sort of side dish for dinner.  This is a Thanksgiving inspired side dish, one that is comforting during the long, cold winter months.  Plus who doesn't love Thanksgiving dishes.  We should eat more of them all year round as far as I'm concerned. 

No-Knead Crusty Bread (adapted from Sullivan Street Bakery in NYC)

Note:  my measurements are in metric - if you don't have a scale - go get one- NOW.  They are a must have for baking and pastry.  I use a Polder digital scale (http://www.polderonline.com/digital-scales.html).
  • 300g (grams) Unbleached bread flour
  • 75g.  Buckwheat flour
  • 75g. Wheat germ
  • 50g. Flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 10g. sea salt (fine grain)
  • 360 g. warm water
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add the warm water and mix (wooden spoon is useful here) just until the ingredients are combined into a sticky dough.  You may need to flour your hands and work it slightly.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it to ferment for about 8-10 hours - yes, you should start this early in the morning (or at the end of the night and let ferment overnight). 
Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface, and work the dough slightly for a few minutes- this is a new find (March 14th, 2011) that I have found to produce a bit lighter airy bread.  After kneading for 3-4 minutes, form dough into a round.  Proof the dough seam-side down in a well-floured banneton, or if you don't have one, as I don't - a floured tea cloth works just as good.  Let it proof for about 2-3 hours in a warm, draft-free place (the stove is good - make sure it's OFF please!).
Pre-heat the oven to 450F before baking.  Preheat the pan and lid as well.  A large stock pot, dutch oven or cast iron pan work well.  When the dough is risen, remove the hot pot and lid, sprinkle a little four onto the top of the dough and tip the loaf in upside down so the seam side is up.  Shake the loaf to center it in the pot, cover and let bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the lid, and finish baking about 15-20 more minutes.  The bread should be well browned and crusty.  Cool on a rack and enjoy the crackle!

Kale, Bacon and Beets (serves ~3)

Notes:  Try to buy local bacon- it's better.  I've been using Triple S Farms http://www.triplesfarms.com/index.html - it's got great flavor, and a perfect ratio of fat to meat. 
  • 5-6 Slices of Bacon
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced
  • 2 Tbl. almonds, sliced/slivered, toasted
  • 2 Tbl. golden raisins
  • 1/2 large potato, diced
  • 1 golden (or red) beet, diced
  • 1 1/2 bunch of kale, collards and/or swiss chard
  • 2 Tbl balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
Place the potatoes and beets in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with olive oil and bake in 450F oven for about 25 minutes or until tender.
Wrip the leaves of the greens into small pieces.  Chop up the stems if using chard. 
Cook the bacon in a cast iron skillet - remove and set aside.  With 1 Tbl. bacon fat, carmalize the onions over med-low heat for about 15 minutes.  Add the chard stalks if using, raisins, and saute for 10-15 minutes.  Add the greens and vinegar, and cook for about 10 minutes or until the greens are wilted.  Mix in the almonds, potato and beets, and season to taste. 
This recipe is easily adaptable using a variety of greens, or other root veggies.
Bon App!

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