green mama

green mama

Monday, November 17, 2008

Meatless Monday

Today is a soup cooking kinda day here in Mid-MO. So I have raided the fridge and pantry and prepared a pretty delish veggie soup. I had some frozen vegetable stock in the freezer, that certainly made my life easier today.
My niece spends the afternoons with us after she gets out of kindergarten, they only go a half day. Today is the day after her birthday and she and E both have a bit of a sugar hang-over. I promptly fed them lunch and put them to bed. I can't think of anything better to cure that day after feeling than a warm bowl of vegetable soup on a cold, windy day. Oh, except maybe some fresh bread straight out of the oven. Yum.
This recipe originally called for jalapeno peppers, but in the interest of making it a little more kid friendly today....I used zavory. This is a pepper I had never seen until I spotted it at the Farmer's market. The vendor insisted I try one right then and there. It was amazing. What a wonderful sales tactic, I bought up the whole lot and went back for more the next week. You can just eat it right off the stem, it has a wonderful flavor but no heat. It is perfection in this bread, if you want to ease up on the spice a bit. I usually make two loaves of this bread, one for the grown-ups and one for the kiddos....just be sure you know which is which! It disappears so fast in this house, no need to worry about spoilage. I have also substituted other cheeses, such as asiago. Play with it!

Cheese and Pepper Bread

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon warm water (105-115 degrees)
4 cups flour plus additional for dusting (I have used all-purpose, bread, and wheat flour. all work well)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil
5 tablespoons chopped fresh pepper (if using a mild pepper, including seeds and ribs. if using a jalapeno I do 3 tbsp. with seeds and ribs and 2 tbsp. without)
5 ounces coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp.)
3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 large egg, beaten with a pinch of salt

Stir together yeast and 1 tablespoon warm water in a small bowl; let mixture stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (if it doesn't foam, start over)
Mix together flour, salt, oil, yeast mixture, and remaining 1 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat at low speed until a soft dough forms, increase speed to medium-high and beat 3 minutes more. Add pepper, 1 1/2 cups Cheddar, and 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and mix until combined.
Scrape dough down side of bowl into center, then sprinkle lightly with flower. Cover bowl with a clean towel to keep a crust from forming and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface (dough will be sticky!) and gently form into a roughly 11-by 8-inch rectangle with floured hands.
Fold dough in thirds (like a letter) with floured hands, pressing along seam of each fold to seal.
Put dough, seam side down in an oiled 9- by 5-inch loaf pan. Cover pan with same clean kitchen towel and let dough rise a draft-free place at warm room temperature until dough completely fills pan and rises above it slightly, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400.
Brush loaf with egg, then sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons Cheddar and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano down center of loaf.
Bake until bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, 50 minutes to 1 hours. Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen loaf, then remove from pant to test for doneness.
Return bread (not in pan) to oven and turn on its side, then bake 10 minutes more to crisp crust. Cool completely on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It has been round-about five months since my last post. Jeez, time flies. What have I done in that time? Hummm...
Well for starters L started to walk, which in and of it's self is enough to flip my world upside down. She is into everything! I finally have all the outlets plugged, and the cabinets under lock and key. Yet, still she is fearless. Her favorite place to hang out in the whole world is standing on top of E's doll house. It still gives me a mini-heart attack on occasion.
I also have done quite a bit of canning, which makes another one of my "to do" list items done. Yeah me!
We canned about 80 lbs of tomatoes in various concoctions, salsa, spagetti sauce, tomato juice and whole tomatoes. We had to supplement a bit with goods from the farmers market. We got 20 lbs. of onions and two cases of peppers from a produce auction. In addition to the tomato goodies we also roasted and froze peppers, shredded or sliced and froze zucchini and squash, and I still have a few onions hanging out in my garage. We also made tons of pesto and froze it into cute little cubes.
We ended up canning about 2 dozen quarts of peaches. They are beautiful. I so sincerly wish we had done that earlier in the season, so that I would have had time to realize that 24 jars is not nearly enough to get us through til next season. Damn the luck. They are going so fast I can hardly beleive it. Everyone in the family loves them and I am inclined to hide a few jars so we can enjoy them after the first snow.
Picking apples was quite a treat. The orchard we choose also is home to alpacas. It was awesome seeing the girls get to pet them and learn about them. Plus, we scored some cheap wool socks. The trees were dwarfs so there were no ladders involved, huge bonus. We ended up coming home with 100 lbs. of apples and quickly turned them into super yummy applesauce and apple butter. We also chopped and froze some for pies. They keep for quite a while, I think I still have about 20 lbs. in the fridge that will just get eaten casually throughout the next few months.
I have also fallen into some absolutly delicious pears. Twice this week friends have shown up at my door with large bags full of pears that they basically found on the side of the road. One of the friends works for a gentleman that has trees on his land, but he doesn't do anything with them. I think I am headed up there this weekend to see what I can find. There is also rumor of nut trees....Yum.
All in all it has been a bountiful fall so far. I am mourning the last weekend of the farmer's market. Our CSA was officially over two weeks ago. The market has still had quite a few brave souls, but the selection gets more and more grim with each passing week. We shall see if there are any sweet potatoes or peppers left this weekend and I will be sure to stock up on that delish goat cheese, then that will be the end of it. Poor me.