Bread came to the rescue this weekend. A dear friend was visiting (the one for whom the wedding cake was made) from out-of-town. She showed up on Saturday mid-afternoon and both of us happened to be starving. I had some day-old white bean and kale soup on the stove. It was a fine soup, a good soup really, but there wasn’t a whole lot left. So I toasted a couple of slices of bread, rubbed a garlic clove across the warm slices, covered them with hot soup, drizzled on a little good olive oil and a bit more salt . . . And we enjoyed a most satisfying mid-afternoon meal.
Bread comes to my rescue a lot actually. In savory bread pudding, in bruschetta with stewed leeks, for quick lunches with a salad, for soaking up the tomato sauce in which I poach eggs, etc. Bread has been getting a bad rap lately and I want to counter some of that with a little bread appreciation today. And I do know and understand that some of you can’t tolerate bread and I’m not trying to rub it in, but for the rest of us, it can be a handy, tasty and nutritious life-saver. And of course it truly is a life saver in much of the world. A vast percentage of the world’s population subsists primarily on a variety of grains and for more than six thousand years people have been baking leavened breads with many of these grains.
After many years of making the no-knead bread made famous in the New York Times I still swear by it. I make a whole wheat version with 75 % whole wheat flour*, which is what you see above. It has a wonderfully open and airy crumb, loads of flavor from the wheat and the long rising period and a serious crust. It is definitely my pinch hitter. . . yesterday I toasted a slice and slathered it with almond butter as I ran out the door to pick up my son. It’s one of his favorite snacks and mine as well. Yesterday I also made dinner for friends who just had a baby. I made winter squash and onion panade (for which I’m going to post the recipe soon) which consists of stale bread turned into a gratin with caramelized onions, diced winter squash, veggie broth and cheese and a raw kale salad with hearty bread crumbs and a garlicky lemony dressing. Because of bread’s long history, most cuisines/cultures have ways to use up the stale stuff which I think merits a post in-and-of-itself soon.
Until then . . . Happy Cooking and Eating!
* A quick note on flours. It’s important that you use bread flour in this kind of bread since it’s made from wheat that has a higher percentage of protein/gluten (than all-purpose flour) which is what gives bread its strength and structure.