Recipes in this post:
Marriage Proposal Venison Stew
Simple Breakfast Radishes with Butter and Smoked Sea Salt
Alice Waters’ Fish Soup Provencal
I've always got that pile of stuff in my basement that has over-stayed its welcome in my home. Not the rags for goodwill, but the happy, healthy goods that someone in my life TOTALLY needs. Like the ball of alpaca yarn that I never touched. When the pile gets big enough to block the doorway, I usually throw a swap party in lieu of a stoop sale.
If you come over, you might just score some free new stuff, off some old stuff and eat something delicious. It's a sweet deal.
Marriage Proposal Venison Stew
This was the most popular thing I have ever served at a dinner party ever. The picture of the cutie above is my buddy Juliana devouring the last bit of soup I carefully packed for her family to take home on their way out the door. It didn’t make it to the car! Solid endorsement.
There are a few reasons this soup is so special. First, the dried peppers. I’m embarrassed to admit that this was my first foray into the vast, vast land of the dried pepper. I even contacted the blogger who wrote the recipe for advice (and when he actually wrote back I felt like a sixteen year-old David Cassidy fan).
Verdict: hunting down different peppers is worth it. I couldn’t find everything listed in the recipe #michiganproblems but the ones I DID find made for a rich, beautiful, complex, gorgeous puree that elevated the whole dang thing. The bacon, sausage, beans and venison helped too.
Venison Stew-related Marriage Proposal Tally:
Simple Breakfast Radishes with Butter and Sea Salt
When I told my mother this would be on the menu for the evening she sounded perplexed.
Sheepish explanation: it’s something fancy people do. One of those foodie moves that’s so peasant-like and simple that it’s borderline obnoxious.
I couldn’t help it! When I saw those beauties at the market (thank you to Green Eagle Farm and ANC farmer’s market) I knew they didn’t deserve to have the pink ombre cooked out of them. Breakfast radishes [like watermelon radishes and easter egg radishes] are mild and less peppery than their boring, red cuzzies.
Alice Waters’ Provincial Fish Stew
I take a lot of liberties with this recipe depending on what I have on hand. In this case, I used Better than Bouillon lobster base to accomodate a dairy allergy. Then I added leeks, carrots, tomato, shallots, garlic, saffron and at the very end some un-peeled shrimp and halibut.
Of all of my many bread loaves and experiments, I make this the most frequently with the most rave reviews, most consistency and least work. It’s forgiving, it’s no-knead and you can’t mess it up. It makes a lot of bread. Halve it or make two loaves.
This is a special method designed for a slightly wet dough which rises quickly and just does it’s thing if you dump some things in a bowl and mix it up a few times.
Additional notes for newbies:
It calls for bread flour, all purpose is fine
I make this so often that I roast a bunch of garlic at once, pop it out of its skin and freeze it. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of roasting garlic, you could chop olives or use walnuts or something. Just be aware of what new ingredients might bring to the bread- i.e. olives are wet and salty so you might rinse and drain them. Lemon zest is nice! Raisins!
The one thing I’m a stickler about with a hearth loaf is a good crust. I HIGHLY recommend using a baking stone or Dutch oven/cast iron pot to achieve this. Both will get screaming hot if you preheat them with the oven. The stone also absorbs some moisture.
The one potential trick with this loaf for a newbie could be getting the bread onto the stone. Cornmeal is key here. Get a little flour and/or cornmeal on the ball of dough so you can grab it easily. I like to pull the oven rack out a bit and put cornmeal on the stone right before I plop the dough down to prevent sticking. The cornmeal may start to burn on the stone if this whole operation doesn’t happen fairly quickly.
No-knead Garlic Rosemary Loaf Courtesy of Artisan Bread in Five and the Noble Pig