Sunday, March 29, 2009

Two Nights of Italian and No-Knead Bread

Apparently I felt like Italian food this weekend.

Well, I had errands yesterday, so that pretty much always means "shrimp pasta" for dinner since it's easy and quick.

But the forecast for today was for snow, and some good, warm, Italian comfort food sounded really good.

I really wanted lasagna, but making a huge pan of lasagna seemed a little like overkill, especially since we leave for Vegas on Thursday morning. Meatballs in sauce were close enough.

I also figured since we'd likely be shut-ins on Sunday, it'd be a good chance to do something I've wanted to try for a long time.... No-Knead Bread.

Apparently it's so easy a four year old can do it, but I still thought this 30-something woman would find a way to mess it up. I don't have good luck with bread. Every venture I've made to make my own yeast-based bread has resulted in a disaster.

The dry goods, measured out.....

Mix those together, add warm water...

And mix until a lumpy mess forms.

Lumpy mess, achieved!

This lumpy mess got covered with plastic and I stuck it in the laundry room (hey, it's not drafty and counter space is at a premium in my kitchen. And I still had to make dinner).

After that, on to the shrimp pasta.

Sliced garlic, tomato confit, chopped parsley, peeled shrimp, and my pameganio-reggiano butter, at the ready....

Melted the butter, added a splash of wine, then added the garlic and let that come to a gentle simmer before I threw in the shrimp to pretty much poach.

Parsley and tomato only have to be added at the end so they warm through.....

Dump in some (apparently very broken, didn't know that until I started cooking it) pasta and let it go for a minute on the heat, and dinner is served.

After dinner, I went to check on my lumpy mess....

Well, it's at least starting to do bread-like things.....

I woke up this morning and damnit... the weather dudes were all right... snow. Lots of it. Lots of heavy snow.


At least we're looking at 70s while we're in Vegas. It looks like the nicest day is going to be Thursday, so we might even have to do a presto-chango before we check our luggage at the hotel to break out the shorts.

Oh well. Trapped at home today. We were lucky... lots in the area were without power.

Time to make the meatballs!

Pound and a half of sausage, pound and a half of ground beef, an egg, romano cheese, oregano, breadcrumbs. Man, I love the stand mixer for mixing meat.

My key to tender meatballs... the bread/milk mixture. I only added about half of what I whipped up.

After rolling, meatballs go into my mini muffin tins and come out 20 minutes later, cooked and lovely...

Time for a bath in the sauce! Just Prego with some sliced garlic added. Oh, and a splash of wine.

That got to simmer away in the slow cooker while I cleaned, packed, cleaned, and occasionally stopped to pay some video poker on my training program.

Time to pay attention to the bread dough again....

I took this very, VERY sticky mess and tried to form it into something resembling a loaf, but that did not really happen. I think my dough was a little more wet that it should have been. Ooops.

Plopped it into a bowl to rise for another two hours...

After two hours, into my heated Le Creuset pot and into the oven....

Yes, I am aware of the fact it looks kinda like a dough turd.

Halway though baking, remove the lid...

.... aaaand if you're a kitchen klutz like me, put a couple of pot holders on the lid so you don't accidentially go to grab it. I've learned that about myself....

After another 20 minutes, I pulled the loaf out....

A little more odd-shaped than I wanted, and I will admit I did quickly run downstairs to grab a loaf of store-bought bread (stunt bread!) to throw into the hot oven to thaw out.

By this time, meatballs were more than ready...

Cooked up my pasta, made a couple of spinach salads, all while listening to the neat snap-crackle-pop of the bread cooling.

With a deep sigh, I cut into my loaf of bread, expecting disaster....

Crap! It actually, well, looks like bread!

And it tasted like bread too!

I made bread! I really, really made a loaf of actually good bread!

So, yes. So easy a four year old can do it, and apparently a bread-challenged 30-something year old can't mess up. A ringing endorsement.

1 comment:

That Word Guy said...

So, I finally decided to try the no-knead bread. Mixed it up yesterday. You know how you thought your dough was a little wetter than you thought it should be? Um, yeah. At least yours was dough; mine is batter.

Fold it a couple times? "Fold?" Hah! Seam? Everybody talks about a "seam." Hah!

3 C flour
1/2 t instant yeast
1 t salt
1.5 C warm water

Are those your proportions?