Couscous and Cucumber Salad

This is a very quick, easy, and customizable dish. I found the recipe via the NYT, which includes mint. Even without the mint, it’s very refreshing, with a smooth, neutral, and delicate flavor. A really lovely lunch or a welcome side dish that goes with pretty much anything. couscous

•  1/2 cup Pearl Couscous
• 1 Cucumber
• 1 large tomato, or lots of tiny ones
• 2 T red onion, diced
• 1 cup water
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 1 – 2 T olive oil
• About 5 sprigs parsley
• salt & pepper

1. Lightly toast couscous in olive oil [enough to coat] over medium high heat, about 5 minutes.

2. Add 1 cup water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat, cover, and simmer until 10 minutes, just until tender.

3. Remove from heat, strain if necessary, and pour couscous in large bowl.

4. Chop cucumber, tomatoes, and onion. Add to couscous, along with lemon juice, herbs, and the rest of olive oil. Toss, let breathe, and serve.

Basic Pasta

pasta

According to Ruhlman’s awesome book Ratio, which measures by weight, pasta is 3 parts flour, 2 parts egg.

1. Pour 1 1/2c flour (whole wheat is pictured, but white or any other kind works) onto the counter, make a well in the top and crack three eggs into it.
2. Knead with your hands until appropriately doughy (5-10m) and form into disc.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least a half hour.
4. Cut into 4 pieces and roll, cut, shape, and either cook or let dry overnight then store.

I’ve also used this recipe for cheese ravioli–it’s totally delicious, but the scraps from cutting the ravioli squares are hard to work with. This is probably why the resting period after kneading is included, but I found that adding a small bit of water (approx 1/2-1tsp, less with less dough) to the remaining pieces made it gel together better. It still didn’t happily reconstitute like cookie dough, and was much more difficult to knead, but it still made yummy ravioli. If you want to make something that will produce scraps like that, I’d suggest doing a maximum of 2 or 3 re-rolls or planning the day’s workout around your pasta making.
(full recipe: bit.ly/jkjXTp )

Bread

Bread

Basic Bread
• 4c flour
• 1 1/2c water
• 2tsp salt
• 1tsp instant yeast

1. Sprinkle yeast over surface of warm water. Pour over flour and salt. Mix, then knead until dough is smooth & elastic.
2. Continue kneading until it can be stretched without breaking. If you are making a flavored bread, you would add spices (garlic, rosemary, thyme, etc) or ingredients (olives, walnuts, etc) at this point.
3. Place in bowl covered with plastic wrap until it expands to twice its size (4-8h). It is ready when it won’t immediately spring back if you poke it.
4. Knead dough for a moment, then cover with towel and allow to rest 10-15m.
5. Shape dough and cover again with towel. Allow to rise/proof for an hour (or refrigerate overnight then allow to rise at room temperature for an hour and a half– I had to do this and it’s still delicious)
6. Preheat oven 450 degrees, then bake for 10 minutes before reducing temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 40-50m. If baking on a pan instead of within a Dutch oven, include a ramekin with 1c water in the oven for steaming, which produces a hard crust.

The above recipe is from Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio, which includes a lot of variations for different flavors. The core ratio is 5 parts flour : 3 parts water + yeast & salt. It’s basically the same as the no-knead bread posted below, but the kneading makes you feel like you are a professional Boulanger :)

No Knead Bread

No-Knead Bread

• 4c flour
• 2c warm water
• 1 1/2t salt
• 1/4t yeast

1. In large bowl, combine flour and salt. Add yeast and warm water. Mix.
2. Cover with foil and let sit for 18 hours
3. Shape dough (it’s quite sticky/difficult to work with so nothing too exciting)
4. Cover with towel and let sit for 2 hours 5. Bake at 425 for 35-45 minutes.

This multigrain boule above was made in an uncovered ceramic dish (w/a small ramekin of water to steam). It was really difficult to remove, so I prefer the ciabatta recipe from Food Wishes (http://bit.ly/YhsYYT) to the messier NYT recipe (http://nyti.ms/SuMYHv).  It is slightly easier to remove if you use a covered dish rather than an open one, but I usually have to cut it out rather than taking out a pretty loaf.  Ciabatta, where you pour dough onto a pan coated with cornmeal, is much easier, pretty, and has a more satisfying rustic feel.