Saturday, October 15, 2011

A hot lemon soup to cure you

The flu renders me useless. For instance, when I made this soup on Wednesday, there wasn’t much hope I’d get a better photo.

It went as follows: Make soup. Take a shitty picture. Whimper miserably. And sink into the couch with this hot, nourishing lemon and butter noodle soup.

Of course, this is best made with homemade chicken broth, if you have it. But if you’re the one fighting the flu, seriously, don’t bother. For God’s sake, don’t make chicken stock form scratch if you’re sick. Keep it easy, that’s the whole point of this recipe.

Lemon and butter noodle soup

Adapted from a recipe in Tessa Kiros’ “Apples for Jam”

Serves 3

1 litre chicken broth

The juice of half a lemon

1 oz butter

3-4 oz spaghetti, broken up into 1 centimetre pieces

Grated Parmesan cheese

Black pepper

A sprinkling of dried mint leaves

Bring the broth, lemon juice and butter to boil in a pan, and lower to a gentle simmer. Let the flavours marry, simmering for 5 minutes or so. Add the noodles, bringing the soup up to a more enthusiastic simmer, but not a roaring boil, by any means. Cook the noodles about as long as the package instructs, minus 30 seconds or so, since they will continue to cook after the soup is served. Add pepper to taste.

Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with the cheese and the mint, and serve.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Making bread, part two

We flew back from Manitoba last month with a suitcase that weighed 98 pounds. It was full of frozen lamb, canned vegetables from the farm, and … a Black & Decker bread maker.

My mum bought it for us at the second hand store in Steinbach, Manitoba, which is run by the Mennonite Central Committee. It cost her twenty dollars. It came with a handwritten recipe, an add-on from the MCC volunteer who kindly tested the bread machine before putting on the shelf.

Now, I’ve written about another bread I’ve been making – a Nigel Slater loaf – and of course proper homemade bread is beautiful and therapeutic in its kneading, punching, and rising. I’ll keep that recipe close too. But machine bread is a snap to make. And it’s also a good recipe to have up your sleeve.

Since I brought this baby home, I’ve been baking all my one loaves, tweaking that recipe ever so slightly each time. More than a month and a dozen loaves later, I can tell you, confidently, that I’ve got the recipe I like.

Automatic Bread

This, of course, is only the kind of recipe that works if you have a bread maker. And if you have a bread maker, you know that the recipe “instructions” are unbelievably simple: 1) put the ingredients, in the order listed, in the baking pan; 2) insert the pan into the machine; 3) turn the machine on, according to the manufacturer’s instructions; 4) go away. This recipe is perfect for the machine’s 2 lb setting.

1 ¼ cup water

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp sugar

1 heaping tsp salt

2 cups white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup mix of interesting dry bits (seeds/chopped nuts/cornmeal/wheat germ/steel cut oats, etc)

1 tsp traditional yeast