Saturday, September 24, 2011

saturday sundries

1.) For a variety of reasons, Polly made the decision early this year not to return to LL to teach for another year. Tough news to hear from my partner of crime/life companion of 10 months. It seems that after spending several months on a soul crushing job hunt in America, she made the decision to return to Moscow. Not to LL, but again as an english teacher. Frankly, I don't care what she's doing here as long as this can continue:

i'm sure she's hoping exactly the same thing

2.) I've mentioned this before, but Charlie's Best Bread in Pacific Beach (San Diego) has the best challah I have ever tasted in my life. I've experimented a couple of times with baking challah in the past, but the results left a lot to be desired (and in one case, created more of a pretzel-like product, which was just weird). This isn't exactly news, as it happened back in June, but I finally managed to bake a challah that both looked and tasted delicious (although, it still did not quite measure up to Charlie's):

my oven is a normal size, this challah is massive

3.) In general life news, I am sick. It's difficult for me to do much more than complain about being sick. I had a moment of feeling like an adult yesterday when I realized I was coming down with something, and immediately thought, "thank god this happened at the beginning of my three-day weekend" (so i won't have to take time off work). Weird. Mostly it's characterized by the feeling that my throat is on fire, along with mild nausea and some congestion in my nose. And also feeling like I've been hit by a truck. Thank god my mom bestowed upon me the gift of soup making, as it's about the only thing I've eaten for two days and so, so easy.

4.) It's fall. I miss summer already.


this is what summer looks like

Monday, September 19, 2011

How to impress even a Russian boyfriend

When searching for a recipe for "rosemary garlic blue cheese bread," I mostly found a method for making a sort of herbed blue cheese butter spread that could be applied to already purchased or baked bread then placed under a broiler for a short period. Needless to say, this is not quite what I was hoping for.

I eventually found this recipe, and based my own loosely around it.

1 1/4 cups warm water
tablespoon honey
1 cup flour
1 packet yeast

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 sprigs rosemary
4 cloves of garlic, quartered

2+ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
however much blue cheese you want

roughly 1 teaspoon each of finely chopped garlic and rosemary

I started by preparing the yeast sponge (not pictured), which consists of mixing the yeast, warm water, honey, and flour together in a bowl, then letting it sit for 20-30 minutes. While waiting for that, I added the olive oil to a pan with the whole rosemary sprigs and quartered garlic cloves. Keep the heat on low, when the oil has been sizzling for about 5 minutes remove from the heat. The garlic should have either not turned color at all, or just barely.

there it goes...

Discard the rosemary and finely chop the garlic.



Add the garlic, about half of the scented oil, and the salt to the yeast sponge and mix. Then start adding the flour. If you have experience making bread, you'll know that it's impossible to be very exact in terms of measurements. I add flour until I can knead without the dough sticking to everything. Once I was able to knead the bread, I chopped up my blue cheese (I suggest no less than 250 grams to start) and kneaded it into the dough. Once I felt it was more or less distributed (and the dough'd had enough) I rolled it into a ball, coated it with some (not all) of the remaining scented oil, and let it rise for about an hour. I always throw things in the oven to rise, either on the lowest possible heat setting (no more than 100 degrees fahrenheit) or off entirely (for the draft-free environment).

just before the first rise...

... and after

The dough should roughly double in size. Punch it down then shape into a bread pan. I coated both the loaf and the pan with the remaining scented olive oil. Sprinkle the chopped (raw) garlic and rosemary on the top. Let the dough rise again for about 30 minutes before putting into the preheated oven. I baked it at 375 fahrenheit for about an hour.

The finished product was very tasty and had a convincing bread consistency, although I will absolutely use way more blue cheese next time (I think I used about 100 grams in this loaf, and it was nowhere near enough).

ta-da!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

USA

This picture probably best sums up my 5 weeks in America

I'm now back in Mytishchi so the blog adventures can continue (laugh). Stay tuned.