Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Bread of Life

I went in to work early last night. For some strange reason our resident's are convinced that I am invincible in the kitchen and as one of the gentlemen wanted to cook a roast for the first time, it was 'obvious' that I was the only staff member capable of helping him :-) I love flattery - and any invitation to cook with or for someone is just an easy way to make me smile.

So I went and 'helped' make roast lamb. My 'help' was to show him how to stab the beastie and plug in rosemary and garlic. Oh and I made a cauliflower and broccoli cheese, and the mint sauce. Otherwise he cooked the meat, roast pumpkin, onions, sweet potato and garlicky, buttery roast potatoes. I didn't do any of that.

While we were throwing this together, one of the other gentleman brought to my attention that we needed to use up some olives. Now I wasn't convinced that they needed using up but I respected his integrity - and the fact that someone has actually listened to one of my 'reminders' on using food and not throwing it out.

In a moment of inspiration I remembered a recipe for "Tomato, Olive and Rosemary Flatbread" in the "good taste" magazine I had bought an hour or some earlier. There was a moment of shock when I tried to convince him that yes, you could make bread without a breadmaker but he was willing to give it a go. So while the roast was cooking I zipped back to the store and got some yeast and bits.

I made the first loaf (just to prove it was easy) and a combined effort produced the second. Imagine the pride and the lift of my heart when I was tentatively asked if we could also put cheese on top of the second loaf. Yippee, again they have listening to me :-) Rae's life lesson number 41 "If you are making you own food you change it to suit your own tastes"

Anyway, here is my loaf and the recipe that was used. I don't pretend this is a recipe I 'invented' (unlike everything else I posted) but it was quick, easy and entirely satisfying.

Tomato, Olive and Rosemary Flatbread

1 sachet dried yeast
1 t sugar
3/4 C lukewarm water
2 C bread flour (or plain flour if that is what you have)
1 T semolina
1/2 C semi sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/3 C kalamata olives, chopped (we used the sliced black ones we had in the fridge)
Fresh rosemary leaves
Crystal sea salt

Combine the yeast, sugar and water in a small bowl. Set aside until it starts to bubble and foam (5 - 10 minutes). Place flour in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture. Using your hands, mix to combine and then once it forms a 'lump' knead for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. The recipe suggested that the kneading take place on a lightly floured bench but I hate cleaning up the mess so I just used a big bowl and kneaded int here. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (about 30 ish minutes). Punch down the centre of the dough. Place the dough on a flat tray that has been lined with baking paper and sprinkled evenly with semolina. Push it out to form a sort of oval shape (or anything else that takes your fancy for that matter) until it is 1 cm thick. Put the olives, tomatoes and rosemary on top and press gently into the dough. Cover with clingwrap and sit in that warm spot for another 15 ish minutes until it has doubled again. Take off the clingwrap. Cook in a 250 degree oven until golden (around 12 minutes). Sprinkle with salt and serve. Best eaten on the day.

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