Simple Things

8 Jan

Sunny, high of 70°F.

The forecast for San Francisco on a miracle day? No.

Cool building

A perfect August day in London? No

Inwood Tudors

Try January 6th, 2007 in New York City.

Big Bridge, Little Bridge

New York City?

Lights on 13th St.

Yeop. I told you we’re having an odd winter here!

It was nice, but flukey, a good day for a walk. A very long walk up in the Heights. A walk so long that I think I hurt myself and had to have a dose of delivery Mexican food administered stat!

Sunday was closer to normal and taken at a more leisurely pace, a pace that included Pompe à l’Huile, Provençal sweet olive oil bread. And get this, I had to knead it (I think that might be why it’s so ugly). The recipe came from the December issue of Saveur and is supposed to be made for Christmas.

Pompe a l'Huile

Well, better late than never I say. This is a lovely, simple, addictively delicious loaf. The boy and I both agree that it has something in common with a scone, but with olive oil taking the place of butter. It went far better with a simple cuppa than with the Mediterranean stew I made to go with it (I didn’t think it was going to be quite as sweet as it is).

Pompe a l'Huile

My loaf also didn’t knead very well, hence it’s lack of a nice, even glossy crust, and I think I know why. I ran out of AP flour and had to replace the last 3/4 cup with white whole wheat. I know, I know… All you real bakers out there are shaking your head in shame at me… But, but! At least I tried!!! And it still tasted good! Sometimes the best tomatoes are the ugliest! Why can’t it be so with bread as well?

Provencale Stew

I hope I’ve convinced you. It really is a delicious bread. And to make up for it, head below the jump for my utterly gorgeous Provençal Stew a la Ann.

Provencale Stew

You know the drill, head below for the recipes for Pompe à l’Huile and Provençal Stew a la Ann.

Pompe à l’Huile (Provençal Sweet Olive Oil Bread)

Adapted from Saveur Magazine December 2006. Makes one 12″ brioche

  • 3 3/4 cups Flour
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 1 7-gram package Active Dry Yeast
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp good Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp salt

Make the poolish. Put 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the yeast, the sugar and 1 cup warm water into a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Cover with a towel and set aside to get bubbly for half an hour in a warm place.

Coat a second bowl in the additional tbsp of olive oil. Set aside.

Add the remaining flour, 3/4 cups of the olive oil and the salt to the poolish and mix to form a dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-7 minutes. Place dough in the oiled bowl, cover and set aside to rest 3-4 hours until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put a piece of parchment on a baking sheet. Gently turn the dough out onto the parchment.

(cook’s note: This is where Saveur gets all cultural on us. They say to cut slits 5 slits out of the dough so that the loaf resembles a sand dollar. Pfffffft! I couldn’t get a knife through my dough, so, I didn’t do it. If you wanna, go for it, but, doesn’t that all seem a bit futsy?)

Bake until golden brown and no longer wobbly. Saveur says this will take 15 minutes. Again I say pffffffft! Mine took nearly an hour, so, don’t be alarmed if yours does too.

Pull the loaf out of the oven and blot or brush the crust with warm water to soften the crust. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and try not to eat it.

Make a nice cuppa tea, sit back, enjoy, make another cuppa and tear into the bread.

As Saveur says, “Remember to tear the bread into pieces–tradition says that cutting the bread might sever your friendship with the people at the table.”

That may be true, but let’s be honest, there’s no way you could ever cut a piece of this bread. It’s too perfectly tender and crumbly!

Provençal Stew a la Ann

prep time: 15 minutes ~ cooking time: 1 hour

  • 1 Onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large Shallot, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 head Garlic, cloves peeled and roughly chopped
  • a handful of pitted Olives of your choice
  • 1 cup frozen Artichoke Hearts
  • 1 cup frozen Green Garbanzo Beans (I got mine at Trader Joe’s)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • a large pinch of dried Chili Flakes
  • 1 packet fresh Poulty Seasoning or a few sprigs each of Rosemary, Thyme & Sage
  • a pinch of Saffron
  • a glug of Olive Oil
  • a small glug of Lemon Juice
  • a healthy glug of Vermouth
  • 1 lb of Chicken Breasts, washed and cut into strips
  • 1 head Lacinato Kale, washed but not dried and cut into ribbons
  • Escarole, washed but not dried and cut into ribbons

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place all ingredients but the chicken and the greens into a large oven-proof dutch oven and turn to mix. Place the chicken on top, cover with the lid and place in the oven for 45 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking place the greens into a large pan over high heat. Season with a little salt and add a small glug of olive oil and vermouth. Cover. Allow to cook until just limp, less than 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, uncover and set aside.

Pull the chicken out of the oven and top with the greens. Cover again and return to oven for 15 minutes.

To serve: Pull the dish out of the oven, uncover, place some greens into each bowl and top with chicken and vegetables. Make sure to give each person a bit of the pot liqueur. It’s the best part! Enjoy!


12 Responses to “Simple Things”

  1. Lisa (Homesick Texan) January 8, 2007 at 10:55 am #

    Oh my, that is a lot of sugar! And what’s up with this crazy weather here in NYC…I received 2 pairs of gloves for Christmas and I wonder if I’ll even get to wear them this year.

    Where’d you get Mexican food in the Heights?

  2. Luisa January 8, 2007 at 11:32 am #

    Ugly? That pompe looks glorious. Your walk sounds great – I also was on my feet all weekend, but did the more pedestrian downtown routes. I think I need to schedule a Heights walk soon!

  3. s'kat January 8, 2007 at 11:40 am #

    The weather is driving me crazy… it’s supposed to be chilly, not shorts weather!! Still, I like the sound of the stew.

  4. ann January 8, 2007 at 11:46 am #

    Lisa — Oooops! Wrong Heights! I thought the pictures told it all… I was talking about Washington Heights, the area of Manhattan up north of the GWB. But the Mexican food was from around the corner in our ‘hood, the LES, from El Maguey y la Tuna. It’s really, really good stuff!

    Luisa — Thanks!! It was crazy delicious! Head north to Ft. Tryon Park. It’s stun ning up there.

    S’Kat — it’s killing my head… I’ve had a sinus infection for months now and I totally blame this weather!

  5. sher January 8, 2007 at 12:41 pm #

    Hey, you’re having warm weather and I go to bed each night worried that my veggies will freeze!! We’re having it cold here.

    If the bread tastes delicious–that’s all that matters, and it didn’t look ugly to me! The pictures of your walk are beautiful. I look forward to your walks so much!!!! Oh–by the way, I keep an old fashioned double edged razor blade for slashing my bread dough. It works much better than a knife.

  6. Julie January 8, 2007 at 1:29 pm #

    Love that picture of the building in the first shot.

    The weather has been strange. I’ve enjoyed it, but feeling guilty for doing so. Actually it’s not the one warm day thing because a day of unseasonably warm weather during the winter has happened for as long as I can remember. It’s the day after day of relatively mild temperatures. I don’t think I’ve scraped ice off my windshield once this winter. Very strange.

    That stew looks delicious. The combination of artichoke and Tuscan kale makes it a can’t-miss in my book. Although having wonderful Mexican food delivered to your door? If I lived on the LES I might never cook again.

  7. Kristen January 8, 2007 at 4:44 pm #

    Hey, whereabouts in WaHI did you wander? God knows there’s nothing I love more than talking about this part of town.

  8. Kristen January 8, 2007 at 5:03 pm #

    Oh, AND I love saying WaHI. Preferably like it’s a karate move.

  9. bloglily January 9, 2007 at 12:23 am #

    Gorgeous bread! (Everything else too, but I’m a carb girl.)

  10. Michelle January 9, 2007 at 1:44 am #

    Ah, I miss my old hood.
    Michelle in Perth Australia
    Where it is summer, and is supposed to be warm.

  11. ann January 10, 2007 at 4:49 pm #

    Sher — protect those precious veggies! I’m so getting into this whole bread thing, maybe I’ll finally make that tomato bread of yours this weekend… I’m feeling deficient in Lycopene these days!

    Julie — It’s such a struggle not to just look at the boyfriend every day and say, eh, let’s just order from El Maguey… But having something like this stew percolate around in the back of my mind helps quell that urge

    Bloglily — Thanks. I love me some carbs myself!

    Michelle — Which ‘hood was yours?

  12. Michelle January 18, 2007 at 2:27 am #

    As of last year, I lived in Washington Heights, right near 181st St.
    I really liked living there.

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