Yesterday I mentioned what was for dinner and had so many requests for the recipes - here they are! The Ciabatta bread turned out fantastic, with a golden brown, crunchy crust. The soup had a bitter taste because of the beer we used (an Irish Stout). If you do not like the taste of dark beers, use a lighter beer, or just chicken broth. I do not drink beer but enjoyed the bitter alcohol flavor. Add a crunchy, colorful salad and a loaf of crusty bread and it is tres bistro gourmet.
A sponge is similar to a starter, but with less liquid. The longer you allow the sponge to live in a corner of your kitchen, the more flavorful your bread will be, and the more full of air pockets, which is greatly desired in a rustic country bread. Two to three days is ideal, but I do not have the patience.
Ciabatta Bread Recipe
- 1/3 cup + 2 TBS warm water
- 1/4 tsp yeast (save the rest of the yeast packet)
- 1 cup bread flour
Add yeast to a small bowl of warm water, sprinkle a bit of sugar (about 1/2 tsp) onto the yeast, and allow to foam and become creamy (about 10 minutes). Add bread flour and mix until it is one sticky lump of dough. Spray Pam on some Saran Wrap and cover the bowl loosely. Keep in a warm place for at least 12 hours. I kept it in an oven where I had turned the heat on for 1 minute t hen turned it off so it was just slightly warm, and left the light on. If you keep it longer than 15 hours, refrigerate it. If you keep it longer than 2-3 days you will need to "feed" it by giving it more flour and water in equal parts (about 1 tsp worth every 2 days).
Making the Bread
- the rest of the yeast packet
- 2 tablespoons warm milk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 teaspoon salt (less if you are on a low sodium diet)
- mister/spray bottle of water
Pour yeast packet into a small bowl of warm milk and allow to become foamy. Add the rest of the ingredients into a large bowl and knead. I dump it all into my KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook attachment and knead it on low for 6-8 minutes, or until the sticky dough becomes elastic and you can handle it without the dough sticking to your hands. Put the dough into a well oiled bowl, turn it over so that the oil is all over the bread, then allow to rise in a warm place for about 90 minutes.
Cover with a damp towel and put on parchment paper/cookie sheet and allow to rise at least 90 minutes. Bake in a preheated 425 oven for 20-25 minutes, spritzing with water every 5 minutes. This gives it a deep brown, crunchy, thick crust.
Cheddar Ale Soup
This soup, adapted from a recipe by my favorite Maritime Chef Michael Smith, comes together quite quickly - about 30 minutes tops. I do all the prep work and have my salad made, then cook the soup while the bread is in the oven.
It is a very rich soup; this recipe should serve 4-6 when served with salad and bread. Michael Smith uses a whole stick of butter and 35% cream but I use only half a stick, and milk. It tastes just as decadent to us.
- 1/2 stick butter
- 2 small onions, peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups dark beer (12 oz) (or lighter beer/broth for a less bitter flavor)
- 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock (12 oz)
- 1 cup whole or evaporated milk
- 2 cups grated sharp cheddar
- Sprinkled sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Few dashes Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce poultry seasoning, and paprika
Melt butter in a medium pan and add the onions and garlic. Saute until barely golden brown, then add the carrot and celery. Add flour and stir, cooking until the flour begins to brown. Pour the beer and stock in, and bring to a boil. When the soup thickens, lower the heat and add the cheese, cream, and seasonings to taste. Serve immediately.
Hope you like these recipes! Let me know if you try them. Be back in a few with today's card.