Hookah, Line and Sinker.

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The latest buzz is that my little garden reaches its peak around this time with the arrival of dozens of honey bees. They are attracted to the yellow blossoms of wild arugala. It is still just a little early but when it happens, it is a phenomenon because all you can hear is the low drone of many bees at work. It can be a bit unnerving if you are not used to it. I have learned not to wear dark clothes because the bees think that I am a bear looking for trouble. If I wear a yellow t-shirt, everyone gets along. Anyway, this experience has convinced me enough to take a bee-keeping class next Spring. Let’s see what’s for supper to-night. Guess whose coming to dinner?

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The answer to the question is easy. Natty dreadlocks is coming for dinner……This pizzette or fully loaded flat-bread is topped with roasted peppers, Taggiasca olives and a creamy goat/sheep’s milk feta cheese. I like to make this hearth bread with 50% whole wheat flour for a more rustic, peasant style. It is definitely earthy, crunchy at a whole other level. This bread starter that I use dates back to last January.

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This is going to be the back bone of supper to-night. Tomato, in Italian, translates as “Pomodoro” or literally, apple of gold. These heirloom tomatoes are called Orange Valencia. They are, in my opinion, a sauce tomato rather than a slicing tomato. I will trim, blanch, shock, de-seed and prep the tomatoes so as to proceed with supper. I’m in the mood for Middle Eastern. Let’s see what else the garden has to give.

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Hello, cauliflower. Earlier this year, at which time it seemed like a good idea, I bought a flat of six cauliflower seedlings. Of the original six, three survived. The variety is called called “Snowcrown”, a commercial strain you might see in a supermarket. My snowcrown came with a purplish tint. Thats not what it looks like in the catalogues. I think my little visitor was as surprised as me. Cauliflower was introduced into Europe by the Arabs. Middle Eastern enough, so far, so good. I am not repulsed by the sight of a live snail on my cauliflower. Snails like them. But, in this day where chemicals are everywhere, I am happy to think that I have a …..fresh garden.

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This zucchini squash is a Middle Eastern heirloom named “Cousa”. It might even be Syrian. It looks like it has adapted to its shady, woodland location here in my New England back-yard. This was a re-seed from my compost heap.

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Garden centric grain salad composed of farro, heirloom carrots and pole beans, garlic, tomato and herbs. Farro, a relative of wheat, also has its origins traced back to the Middle East.

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I made a mild curry style stew with my tomatoes, garlic,cauliflower, zucchini and herbs. I decided to double starch and imagined this with either simple boiled potatoes or brown basmati rice. I’m a sucker for fish and potatoes any day, anyhow.

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But this callous dhow boy is in the mood for fish too. I marinated swordfish in extra virgin olive oil, light curry spices, garlic, lemon zest and herbs for about thirty minutes. Then seared the swordfish in a hot skillet. I transferred the still rare sword fish to the cauldron and completed its cooking. Minutes later. The swordfish is cooked. It has absorbed mild spice flavor and is meltingly moist. This is how I like my seafood stews. Sometimes, the spice can seem a little coarse or rough. I like like to smooth out those rough edges with a little honey. Honey is the main sweetener in this kitchen, honey! You do not need a lot.

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10 foot sunflower plant. Thanks for reading. Eat like a peasant.

Fish Eyes and Fish Tales, Ahoy.

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This is New England black sea bass.

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This one weights a little over a pound. I have stuffed the cavity with thyme from my garden.

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Now to cook it over a fire.

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I love cooking a whole fish this way.

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The trick is being able to remove the fish off the grill without breaking the skin. I’m happy enough with my attempt. Some grilled broccoli rabe alongside.

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Grilled broccoli rabe.

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Faro, golden beets and scallions.

 

Bread…….My Flavor

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This is a ball of bread dough made with farro that I have milled. I like my breads coarser and a little bit more rustic, with a higher ratio of whole grain flour. Here I used farro. And the ratio of farro to bread flour is about 2:1, in farro’s favor. I have to be careful how much I knead the dough on account of the general coarseness of the grain. I’m trying to avoid having the sharp edges of the coarsely milled farro from slicing into or otherwise cutting the strands of gluten. It is the gluten which give the bread it’s bounce. And then, the percentage of moist ingredients to dry ingredients is about 65%. I used about 14 ounces of liquid and about 22 ounces of dry ingredients. Whatever about the mathematics, percentages, ratios, equations and formulas, I find bread making with yeast to be enjoyable. Even though it is easier to go and blow money on bread, I’m happy to make the effort. I try to keep the bread program at home manageable. Within my means of time, energy, opportunity and cost. I make it work for me. The bread dough sat unattended in the fridge for five days until I was ready. This slower proofing time is what gives the bread it’s spine.

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Let’s see what can be done. I split the dough into two pieces and I used two different forms to shape them.

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Home made Black Olive Bread. Originally meant to be styled as a ciabatta, the limitations of the size of my pizza stone forced me to compromise. It fit this way, so this way, it was.

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And then, this one is shaped like a ball or “boule”……hence, boulangerie…..where you go to buy the bread.

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I’m a big believer in any kind of bread you do at home is already going to be better than anything you can buy. These breads will also last a few days. The thing with my home bread program is that I only make the items I like and that I will eat. Time is a big factor. Simple cooking from scratch requires time. Manage your kitchen well and eat like a peasant. Thanks for checking me out. Hello, Italy and Hello, France.