Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

In which we see how it goes…

Posted: March 25th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 1 Comment »

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I had an idea, that was based in the fact that I spend roughly $40 a day at Whole Foods, every time I make dinner. I’m not making recipes up so spontaneously that I couldn’t get the ingredients ahead of time, I’m just too lazy to shop in bulk or plan.
Thus, the invention of a new Monday night ritual – after a dinner of either leftovers, or Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, we’re going to make a menu for the next week, and a relevant shopping list. On Tuesday, after work, we’re going to go shopping together, so we can buy the week’s groceries which will, among other things, greatly reduce the amount of money I waste at Whole Foods each week.

Last night, we made the first list.

Tonight, we made the shopping trip, which was remarkably cheaper than I thought it would be.

Tonight, we made the first recipe.

Jamie Oliver’s Chickpea with Leek Soup, and Basic Bread (which Josie bastardizes).

Soup:
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
1 potato, peeled or not, as you see fit.
2 leeks, white and soft green parts, halved lengthwise and washed well.
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, sliced.
4 or 5 pearl onions, sliced.
About 4 cups chicken stock total. More or less.
Butter, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, Parmesan Cheese.

Put chickpeas and potato into a pot. Fill with water to cover, add a little salt, and boil until the chickpeas are good and mushy.

Meanwhile, melt together about a tablespoon or two of butter, and roughly the same amount of oil in a large, pretty sturdy pot. Add the onions and garlic, and shuffle around in the pot for a few minutes, until they let out some of their liquid (this is called “sweating”, apparently.)
Add the leeks.

You will probably not have enough oil/butter. Add more of whichever, or both. You want everything to be nice and shiny, covered with the cooking fat, so that nothing dries out as it’s cooking. Add a little more salt. This will coax out the juices, along with making things delicious.

After about 10, 15 minutes, the leeks will be very very smushy. This is the right time to drain the chidkpeas, cut up the potato, and add the whole shebang to the pot. Cook for a minute or two, and then add some chicken stock. About half. Simmer this for 10-20 minutes (while the bread is baking), then the options begin:
You can leave it as is, finish with some salt, pepper, a little butter, and a little Parmesan, and call it done.
You can puree the whole shebang, and finish with the above. Done.
OR, you can puree half, and leave the other half kind of brothy and chunky, and finish with the above. Done squared.

Either way, you’re going to want to taste, as this can be rather bland if you don’t season all the way through. And you’re definitely going to want to add more broth, if the texture isn’t right for you.

Bread
About 2 pounds of All-Purpose flour.
3/4 oz (3 packets or 6 and 3/4 teaspoons) of yeast. NOT INSTANT!!!
2 tablespoons sugar.
2 cups warm water, total.
2 tablespoons salt.

Mix together the yeast with the sugar and 1 cup of water.

In a big bowl, mix together the flour and salt. If you want to add fresh herbs, now’s the time.
When the yeast has gotten kind of frothy, pour it into the flour bowl, and start mixing it together. Depending on your flour, you might need another whole cup of warm water. You may need less. You may need more. You don’t want this dough to be too sticky.

Knead it until it feels done. Roughly 5 minutes, once the dough starts coming together in the bowl.

Put it in a bowl that has been rubbed with butter. I generally cover it with plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and leave it till it doubles in size (which happens quickly, because of the plastic wrap/foil.
Knock it down, and either knead it a second time, or get someone cute and strong, like my boyfriend, to knead it for you. Put it back in the bowl and cover it back up. Let it double a second time, and then gently put it in your buttered loaf pan, or turn it into a ball, rolls, country loaves, whatever, and score the top 3 or 4 times. Let it proof about 30 minutes, while the oven preheats to 425.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. You know it’s done when it sounds like, “THUNK” on the bottom, instead of like a dead “THUD”. Yes, there’s a difference. If you can’t hear it, ask someone who can. Don’t let it burn.

Let it cool, on a rack, about 25 minutes, 30 at most.

This whole situation is delicious together. I’d say that you should do this as soon as possible.

This is the first meal I ever made for my boyfriend that really had meaning behind it. This bread is really quite easy. Basically the whole thing is beautiful and I hope it gets eaten by other people. You’ll like this, you special, lovely people. I promise!!!



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