What’s for dinner? (9.28.08 Part 2)
Okay, now for the second part of dinner, the bread and the fruit salad.
I’m not a big fan of the kitchen sink approach to fruit salad. A few select fruits will do it. Watermelon is always a favorite, but it’s more or less out of season at this point. No worries – here’s my favorite trick: squeeze some fresh orange and lime juice right onto cold watermelon cubes (or, if you’re trying to survive a dinner with the in-laws, add a good glug of your favorite margarita). This adds some sweetness to what can otherwise be a dull watermelon flavor.
I wandered around the produce section, unable to decide on a second fruit to add to the watermelon. Cantalope’s been done to death by this time of the year. Ditto, honeydew. Strawberries, nah. On impulse, I grabbed a mango. Perfectly ripe (and, I’ll discover later, very juicy). Now, I really have no idea how to slice a mango. There’s some nuance that I haven’t been able to master, so, I just accept that I’m gonna make a mess of the thing and move on. I wasn’t sure how watermelon and mangoes would go together, but, with the orange and lime juice, it was all delicious. The orange and lime intensified the mango flavor, and, as I mentioned above, sweetened the watermelon.
One of my favorite bread recipes ever is for Garlic Knots from King Arthur Flour’s Baker’s Banter blog. As you’ll see for yourself when you click the link, the awesome people in that test kitchen provide detailed step-by-step instructions and photos, so, I won’t document the entire process here, but rather will show just a few steps here and there so you can see how easy it is for us amateurs to get great results.
First, dump all the dough’s dry ingredients into your mixing bowl and give it a good whisk. While you should always do this with a large quantity of dry ingredients, it’s especially important with potato flour, which is clumpy by nature.
I loves me KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer. I don’t know how I ever lived without this thing. And the color – I bought a cover to protect it, but the bright Tangerine color cheers me so that I can’t bear to hide it. Okay, I’m starting to gush, so, anyway, once you add the oil and water, give it all a good mixing, and then start the kneading. 8 minutes. If the dough is too dry (if it remains too crumbly for longer than seems right), add a tablespoon of water. One will usually do it.
Eight minutes later, a ball of perfection. This is my favorite bread dough – it always comes out of the mixer just perfect. It’s stuff like this that makes me want to quit my day job and bake bread for the rest of my life. Seriously. But, until that day comes … it’s time for the first rise. An hour or so is all it takes.
An hour later, we’re ready to start working on the knots. This dough is just lovely and cooperative, it’s a joy to work with. I use my trusty silpin roller to flatten and shape the dough into a rectangle on a large cutting board. PJ’s tip to use a pizza cutter to slice the strips is brilliant (hence the cutting board – don’t use your silpat mat here).
PJ’s instructions for forming the knots are excellent. I think it took me maybe 3 knots the first time to get the hang of it. Once you do it right, you’ll easily be able to do it again and again. Don’t obsess over them. Remember, they have another rise to go through, and as the dough expands, all gaps will be closed and dings smoothed out. Try it – you’ll see!
Just before the knots finishing browning in the oven, I take them out and spread on some of the garlic butter and top it with a little of whatever cheese I’m using (today, I used brie). Then it’s back into the oven for a just a few more minutes. The knots get another brushing of garlic butter, a sprinkle of seasoning, and … dinner is served!