Monday, July 11, 2011

a belated birthday dinner, part three

Still with me?  Almost done, I promise. This is the last time I'll author three consecutive posts about carbs and/or sugar.  Actually, scratch that.  That's a promise I probably can't keep.

Now that you've heard all about the latter half of the meal, I suppose I'll tell you about the first bit. 

I've been looking for a reason to make this rosemary olive oil bread again ever since the first Sunday dinner.  At that dinner, four loaves disappeared in the time it took me to turn from the stove to the counter and back again. Which was actually an overwhelming relief, considering how flagrantly I had misread the recipe. 

Luckily this time, I knew I needed to start four hours in advance, not two.  And, I guessed it...the handy KitchenAid. I am here to tell you, there is a world of difference between kneading something for ten minutes and letting a dough hook knead something for ten minutes.  My muscles were already shot from kneading the pasta dough, and I had a plethora of dishes to attend to, so I let the KitchenAid knead away, and I attacked the kitchen.  After maybe 15 minutes of prep, the dough went into an olive oil-coated bowl, and got a nice little saran wrap covering.  

Now THIS is what I mean when I say I want to see some results if I'm required to sit around waiting for hours (disclaimer: it looked way more impressive before I peeled the saran wrap off):

Then I formed "four equal pieces" (which, if you look closely, you'll note are anything but equal).  I'm about as skilled with the equal division of dough as I am with the formation of the dough into little loaves.  Why is it so complicated? I don't know.  But somewhere between "divide into four equal pieces" and "fold the sides to make a free-form square," I just kind of fail.  Which leads to more flying by the seat of my pants. 

Which I would say worked out alright, because I think the bread looks just delicious once it's been sliced.  You can't totally tell that each of the four loaves was a little different in size.  Or that I hadn't a clue what I was doing when I made the dough to loaf transition. 

And this was the perfect excuse to use Allie's matching cheese plate, appetizer plates, and dipping bowls.  Because she wanted to use all four, we even had a variety of oil options for our bread.  I could eat all of these things (sans tomatoes) ALL DAY LONG. 

The bread was also totally strategic on my part.  I needed to distract everyone while I was finishing up the sauce for the basil pasta.  I decided some sort of white wine/cream sauce would go well with basil pasta.  Problem was, I'd never made such a sauce.  But in the spirit of stubbornness and slight invincibility, I searched for a well-rated recipe, and decided to just give it a shot.  We could always order pizza if it was disgusting.

I used this Food Network recipe, and it was so/so.  I'm not a huge cream sauce fan, and I think it could've used a little spice (which I totally meant to add, but forgot in the slight chaos that ensued when I was supposed to be coating half-cooked bread in olive oil and rosemary while heating garlic, olive oil, shallots, and wine).  But it wasn't gross.  Ringing endorsement, I know.  At least it looks pretty!

So that is the end of the belated birthday dinner saga.  An overall success, but with some room for improvement. And down-sizing.  No one needs to eat leftover pasta and chocolate peanut butter squares for a week...

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