But first, yesterday I briefly mentioned my latest brain-child. I've had soooo many people ask me lately about menu planning, or tell me how they've been doing with it. It's taken me a long time to get it down to where I can do it well, and I thought it would be a very worthwhile thing to share. What I can't decide is where I want to do it. This is where you come in- there is a poll up on the sidebar today asking if you have a preference. Should I focus several of my posts here at Tummy Treasure on menu planning? Maybe do a series one or two days a week? It would take place of some of the actual recipes though most likely. Or, do I set up a completely new blog that would be focused solely on menu planning. How to do it, tips on tweaking it just so, suggestions for recipes to use up leftover bits, and actual menu plans are some of the things I plan to cover. Let me know what you think. I'm also thinking about making it completely interactive and allowing whomever wants to, the ability post their attempts at menu planning. Please let me know your preference, this could be a bit of work, and I want to make sure it's going to be worth my time.
On to the recipe today! This is one that I think I would have seen 100 times in a cookbook and never made myself if it hadn't come so highly recommended. It also happens to be the first recipe I actually cooked out of my new book, "How To Cook Everything Vegetarian" by Mark Bittman. Thanks to a duplicate Christmas gift, I had a gift card to use at the bookstore and brought this puppy home last week. It is quite the book! It was not written to convince people to eat a vegetarian diet, but it was written to give everyone more vegetarian options. Many of the recipes are also vegan, or at least suggest a vegan alternative. It's a wonderful addition to my cookbook library and I expect it will get a lot of use.
This Olive Oil Salt Bread is the perfect addition to a meal where you want a bread or a biscuit with it. Soup or stew is a perfect accompaniment. Very few ingredients, very little work, the result is a rustic loaf of bread that is reminiscent of a biscuit in texture, but almost tastes like a soft pretzel. You can bake it in the oven, which is what I did, or you can also griddle it on the stovetop. And while we had it plain with some butter and preserves, this bread is screaming for some mix-ins. Whether it be herbs and spices, cheese, caramelized onions, raisins, whatever, it's the perfect base to mix a few things in and truly make it special. I happen to be dreaming about a cheddar-apple-bacon combo myself. Try it- you gotta see it and taste it to believe it.
Olive Oil Salt Bread
from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing pan
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt, preferably coarse or sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease and 8-inch skillet or square baking pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Put the flour, baking powder and salt in a food processor and turn the machine on. Pour through the feed tube first the 1/3 cup of olive oil, then most of 1 cup of warm water. Process for about 30 seconds, then remove the cover. The dough should be a well-defined, barely sticky, easy to handle ball. If it is too dry, add the remaining water 1 tablespoon at a time and process for 5 to 10 seconds after each addition. If it is too wet, which is unlikely, add a tablespoon or two of flour and process briefly.
Put the dough into the prepared pan and press until it fits to the edges. Flip it over and press again. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes; then remove the foil, sprinkle the top with a little coarse salt, and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is lightly golden and springs back a bit when touched gently. Cool in the pan a bit, then cut into wedges or squares and serve.
Griddled Variation: Instead of preheating the oven, heat a griddle or set a heavy pan over medium heat. Have the extra olive oil handy for greasing. In step 2, divide the dough into 8 to 12 pieces and pat them into patties between your hands until they're about 1/2 inch thick. When the griddle or pan is hot, use enough olive oil to film the bottom and put in as many breads as will fit comfortably without crowding (you will probably have to work in batches). Cook, undisturbed, until they begin to brown around the edges and the tops bubble a bit, about 5 minutes. Then turn and cook the other side until crisp and golden.
Serves 4 to 6