Welcome to my personal release as I, former corporate girl of fantastic financial job, step into the new shoes of being a stay at home mom, wife and happy homemaker! I am so excited, I can’t even begin to tell you! My last day at work was over a month ago now, but we only got the computer set up a week ago so there’s my first excuse for delays. Hopefully I won’t have to come up with too many more of those. Ok, so far since I’ve been home with my adorable little man we have come up with a schedule for at least the first half of the day. I’m still working on the second half, but I’m certain it will come to me. Any ideas of fun playtime inside to avoid the heat, please let me know!
Putting together a house takes a while when you have as much stuff as we do, so we’re still working on that and in my spare moments I’m trying to catch up to everyone else in the amazing world of things like Pinterest, twitter, groupons, twitter and coupons! I’m certain I’ll have a blast navigating things of that nature and making them all work for our family. It’s truly amazing what you can find out there now! Fabulous recipes, work-outs, decorating tips, organization tips, kid stuff and much more. Hopefully I can add to the pile with some useful things adapted in my own life…..we can work it all out together.
Since I’ve been home, there have already been many little moments that could make you laugh. I’ll try not to back track too much, but one of the things I picked up in the first week was making my own bread. It was actually a very cool experience and started just because I had forgotten to pick up bread when I went to the grocery store. Ok, most people would probably just trip over there and pick up a loaf, but since I’m still getting comfortable taking Ben (that’s my adorable little guy) out and about by myself, I decided to make use of the flour in my canister and my food processing dough blade. I made two small loaves of regular white sandwich bread successfully to kick things off so then I got a little ambitious. I had a couple of girlfriends coming over for wine – you know who you are – and so I decided that I need a ‘Melissa-ism’ on the table. (I’ll refer to these from time to time, but so you know, it’s what I’m know for…friends know I LOVE to make a signature cocktail or a fantastic new recipe, just something personal to show off my mad hostess skills. Don’t laugh at me, you know you love it.) Anywho, the Melissa-ism goal for this wine night was a fresh, homemade loaf of olive-rosemary bread that I could serve with hummus. There were all sorts of instructions, and true to form I changed some of the recipe and some of the small steps to make it all my own. However, I found out that one of my brilliant ideas wasn’t quite so brilliant. The instructions suggested that prior to placing the bread in the oven for baking, you insert a SMALL cast iron skillet onto the bottom rack of the oven and allow it to preheat with the oven. Then right before you put the bread in, you pour some water into the skillet, I assume this was to have some moisture in the oven for your loaf. Brilliant moment….I do not have a SMALL cast iron skillet, but I do have a very large one. I thought that it might be too big and like, block some heat from the bottom of the oven so I didn’t want to use it (dumba$$). Quick sub – glass baking dish. Ok, so right about now, I would guess that 75% of you are already laughing at me because you know exactly what’s about to happen. Can I just ask….when did you people learn this little phenomenon? I mean, while I was in business classes were the rest of you learning basic skills of glass, heat & water 101? I wish someone would have invited me to that class. For the other 25% of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, the glass baking dish heated up in the oven, I was ready to inset bread, stop, pour water into glass dish…..POW-CRASH-POP-@#$%!!! Yes, glass exploded all over my oven and floor like a bomb went off. My 1 year old son standing about 6 feet from the scene with Thomas the Train and no shoes. So anyway, I had to scoop him up into the play-yard and try to clean up really hot glass from the floor and the oven, keep the stupid oven on so that I could bake my stupid Melissa-ism in time for wine night and pray that the lack of moisture in the oven wouldn’t ruin my precious olive loaf. I ended up placing the large cast iron skillet in the oven, which isn’t ‘seasoned’ yet, so that just created smoke. I think it might have given the bread a nice smoky flavor, so we’ll call that a win.
All worked out. My olive loaf was a success and it was quite tasty with the hummus! Plus, I got a ridiculous story to tell you about. If anyone is interested in my slightly modified recipe (original recipe from Charles van Over – Cuisinart cookbook) for this super delicious olive-rosemary loaf….here it is! Happy baking….oh and please, make YOUR olive loaf without the glass shards.
You will need:
- 2 – 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 – 1/4 cups wheat flour
- 1/2 cup rye flour
- 2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast (I think the one I used said ‘rapid rise’ or something like that)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil (extra virgin or regular, whatever you have)
- 1 – 1/4 cups water
- 1 cup olives, coarsely chopped (use what you like, I went to the olive bar at the store and got a mix of greek, green, black, etc.)
- 1 tablespoon or a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
- flour for dusting
I used my Cuisinart food processor, but if you don’t have one I’m sure you could use a stand mixer or some other mixing method. Combine flour, salt, yeast and olive oil in processor using your DOUGH blade. With machine on dough setting, slowly add water into the feed tube. Run the processor till the dough forms a ball on one side of the bowl. Remove the dough, place in a large ungreased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. This can sit in room temperature for about 2 hours to rise.
Preheat oven to 475*, place a cast iron skillet on the bottom rack. Make sure your top rack is about 8 inches from the top. Oh and DON’T use glass instead of cast iron.
After the two hours of dough rising fun, flour a work surface and work your dough into a square. Place chopped olives & rosemary in the middle of the dough, then fold over and knead it all together, lightly. My dough was folded over and over itself as to create a nice little swirl of olives in the slices. After kneading, form the dough into a nice round ball. Place a clean towel in a large bowl and lightly flour the towel, place the loaf in the towel and dust flour lightly on top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for one hour a room temperature.
Place dough in a round baking pan, sprinkle with flour and then use a serrated knife to score the top. I did the hashtag shape (#), but you could do a star or just 3 clean lines or whatever. Place a sprigs of rosemary on top for garnish. Carefully pour about a cup of warm water into your cast iron skillet, then place your bread on the top rack. Reduce heat immediately to 450*. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 425*. Bake for an additional 15 minutes until crust is brown. Internal temperature of the bread should be about 205-210* with an instant read thermometer. Bread will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom….don’t overthink it. Remove bread from pan, place on cooling rack for a bit, then slice it up and serve with hummus or rosemary butter or olive tapenade…..and of course with lots of wine!
Enjoy with pals! Next time I’ll take a picture of the Melissa-ism for you 🙂