Hey Summer, Where Are You?

It’s the first week of June, and it’s raw and rainy.  I’m bundled in fleece because it’s only in the mid-50’s outside. I’m so ready for summer.  I’d even settle for spring.  At boot camp this morning, we were taking a survey of who turned their heat back on…

Local farmers’ markets are just starting to open for the season.  I pick up my first week’s CSA share tomorrow. My vegetable garden is planted but sunshine and heat are needed for it to grow.

When summer tomatoes are at their peak later in the summer, Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella or burrata makes a regular appearance on my table, but it’s much too early for that.  I saw a recipe in the New York Times a few weeks ago for a spring version with fava beans and fennel.  Those aren’t in season yet either, but I felt inspired.

What was fresh at today’s farmers’ market?  Radishes and sugar snap peas cried out to me.  I also have plentiful arugula growing at home, self-sowed from last fall’s plants, and fresh mint in my herb garden.

Here’s my version.  The variety of color and textures is a treat for the senses.  I love how I’ll be able to vary the ingredients as the season progresses towards tomatoes and beyond.

Spring Burrata Salad

1 small shallot, diced finely
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3-4 radishes, sliced thin
1 stalk celery, sliced thin
1 heaping cup of sugar snap peas, tops trimmed, cut in half
1 4-oz ball burrata
Arugula leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces if large
1 sprig fresh mint

In a small bowl, cover diced shallot with lemon juice.  Add a pinch of salt, and let it sit while you prepare the vegetables (5-10 minutes).  Then, whisk in olive oil.

In another bowl, toss the radish slices, sliced celery, and peas together.

Arrange the arugula on a plate.  Place the burrata in the center.  Scatter the mixed vegetables over the arugula and burrata.

Spoon about half of the dressing over the salad.  Finally, tear the leaves from the mint sprig into small pieces and sprinkle over the salad.

Serve immediately.  Use a serving spoon to cut the burrata in half or quarters as the salad is served.

Serves 2-4

Staff of Life {CtBF}

I love making bread.  Over the past few years, it has gradually become part of my weekly kitchen routine.  My bread strategy is firmly in the “no knead” territory, making it long on rising time but super short on effort.  Initially, I was hooked by the Jim Lahey recipe made popular by Mark Bittman. Last summer, on a trip to Vermont, I couldn’t resist a detour to the King Arthur Store, where I bought a sourdough starter.  That sparked a new avenue of bread experiments.

This week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays is David Lebovitz’s Multigrain Bread, which resembles the loaves he buys in Paris.  This loaf is neither no-knead nor slow-rising, but I always like learning new things, so gave it a try.

This loaf has several good things going for it:

#1 It’s relatively fast. I mixed up the starter right before bedtime.  Initially it looked unpromising, but overnight the starter rose into a bubbly brew.

Before

After

#2 The combination of seeds mixed into the dough was delicious. Flaxseed, millet, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, and chopped pumpkin seeds.  Yum!

#3 As with my usual routine, this loaf is baked in a Dutch oven (I used a stoneware bread dome) which produces a perfect artisan-like crust.

#4 The technique for scoring the top of the loaf with a pair of scissors was easy, attractive, and effective. I’ll be reusing this new trick on future loaves.

On the other hand, I question the recipe’s name.  Multigrain?  It’s made with mostly bread flour with a small amount of whole wheat.  That’s two grains, but in my book, that’s hardly multigrain.  Maybe he meant to call it Multiseed Bread?

This plain bread dough was easy enough to knead because I let the stand mixer do the work.  After I added the seeds, the dough wasn’t quite sticky enough to absorb them.  I ended up adding a few tablespoons of water which helped.  I would recommend adding the seeds when the other ingredients are added to the starter and knead it all in one go.

I typically bake a loaf this size at 500F for one hour (in a preheated bread dome).  I questioned the directions for 30 minutes at 450F.  In previously recipes from My Paris Kitchen, I’ve noticed that extra baking time is often required.  My oven must run cooler than David’s.  I opted to set the oven temp to 500F.  After 30 minutes, it was not done.  I let it go another 15 minutes.  The internal temperature said it was done, though I might have liked a darker crust.

In the end, I liked this bread.  It had a nice crumb and toasts well.  Would I make it again?  Perhaps if I didn’t have the time to make my usual favorites.  I really enjoyed the seed mixture so I’ll try adding that combo to a no-knead or sourdough loaf in the future.  Lots of lessons learned with this recipe.

To see what other members of Cook the Book Fridays thought of this recipe, check out their links here.  You can find the recipe here at Fine Cooking or on page 241 of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.