September Slow-Food Dinner, Panic! Bread

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This past weekend we hosted a dinner party of sorts. I began talking about it at the beginning of summer while I was planting our food garden. I was inspired to have a dinner centered around food that was grown or caught – to bring us all closer to our food, shed light on what foods are local, how much hard work goes growth, care, and preparation, and hopefully to feel some satisfaction turning little seeds into a nourishing meal.

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It was a beautiful gathering. The hours of preparation and assembly unfolded into a gathering of creative people who devoted much time and thought into their contributions and enjoyed sharing their achievement. Each dish and drink was delicious and enjoyed by all.

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Some of what we ate:

Home brewed beer and mead

Apple wine made in a bucket

Locally caught fish (caught by the guest himself)

Hand picked corn and homemade butter

Fish chowder that was completely dairy free

Apple pie with handpicked apples

Beet bread (the most colorful bread I have ever seen!)

Homegrown green beans made with and old family recipe

No-knead bread

Homemade ricotta cheese with herbs stuffed in eggplant with tomato sauce

Zucchini, corn, swiss chard and tomato salad

I loved cooking alongside everyone. The aromas from the food, the laughter, the conversation, the shared cooking tips, the interest in others’ recipes, the respect and enjoyment that all came out of the sharing of food filled the house with a delightful and fulfilling atmosphere. We finished with full, satisfied bellies and a full table of food which is something to think about for future dinners.

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There are so many delicious recipes from this dinner that I would like to share, but a post with 10 recipes would be overwhelming. So, I’m going to share the most surprising recipe of the evening. It is bread. A bread for panic moments when you realize you have no/not enough bread and would not like to run to the store because you have such wonderful people around you and don’t want to miss anything and you would rather make something from scratch anyway. For short we will call it, Panic Bread.

I spent 24 hours on a beautiful artisan “no-knead” bread (pictured below) that turned out to be absolutely delicious and the most lovely bread I have ever had the pleasure to bake. And I absolutely know that this bread was so delectable because of the time needed to prepare it.

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After the magical “no-knead” bread came out of the oven I realized how very small it was for an eight-person meal. So, I panicked because bread is an integral ingredient to dinner, especially when there is soup involved.

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It’s a super dense French loaf that would most definitely feed eight people; a completely satisfying bread for soup dipping and cheese spreading. It only involves five ingredients and less than an hour of your time.

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Panic! Bread

adapted from Cooks.com

2 ½ tsp dry active yeast

1 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups + 2 tbsp warm water

3 ½ + cups flour

1 egg white diluted

Combine 1/4 cup warm water, yeast, 1 tsp sugar in a bowl and allow the yeast to dissolve. Add in the rest of the sugar, salt and water. Slowly stir in the flour and mix thoroughly. Knead the bread for five minutes. Add flour if you need to Let the dough rest in a bowl in a warm place for 15 minutes (I put mine on our radiator because our kitchen is the coldest place in our house).

Preheat the oven to 300 and put a dish of water at the bottom of the oven.

Flour your surface and roll the dough out flat with a rolling pin. Then roll up the dough as though you are making cinnamon rolls. Place the roll seam side down on a cookie sheet and cut three diagonal cuts into the loaf. Brush the egg mixture onto the loaf.

Turn the oven off.

Put the bread on a middle rack and let rise until it is double its size.

Take the water out of the oven.

Turn the oven to 425 and bake for 10 minutes from the time you increased your oven temperature.

Turn the oven down to 375 and bake for another 8 minutes until the bread is golden.

*Note: While testing the recipe I used whey leftover from the ricotta cheese I made. Works just as well as water. I did not notice a taste difference, though the loaves were made and tasted days apart.

And you have yourself a quick loaf, enough for several people to enjoy. Go, break some bread and enjoy good company.

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