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What’s for dinner? (9.28.08 Part 2)

September 30, 2008

Okay, now for the second part of dinner, the bread and the fruit salad.

Sweet and citrusy.

Sweet and citrusy.

Fruit
I’m not a big fan of the kitchen sink approach to fruit salad. A few select fruits will do it. Watermelon is always a favorite, but it’s more or less out of season at this point. No worries – here’s my favorite trick: squeeze some fresh orange and lime juice right onto cold watermelon cubes (or, if you’re trying to survive a dinner with the in-laws, add a good glug of your favorite margarita). This adds some sweetness to what can otherwise be a dull watermelon flavor.

I wandered around the produce section, unable to decide on a second fruit to add to the watermelon. Cantalope’s been done to death by this time of the year. Ditto, honeydew. Strawberries, nah. On impulse, I grabbed a mango. Perfectly ripe (and, I’ll discover later, very juicy). Now, I really have no idea how to slice a mango. There’s some nuance that I haven’t been able to master, so, I just accept that I’m gonna make a mess of the thing and move on. I wasn’t sure how watermelon and mangoes would go together, but, with the orange and lime juice, it was all delicious. The orange and lime intensified the mango flavor, and, as I mentioned above, sweetened the watermelon.

Yummy mangoes.

Yummy mangoes.

Sweet and tangy - perfect with dinner.

Sweet and tangy - perfect with dinner.

Bread
One of my favorite bread recipes ever is for Garlic Knots from King Arthur Flour’s Baker’s Banter blog. As you’ll see for yourself when you click the link, the awesome people in that test kitchen provide detailed step-by-step instructions and photos, so, I won’t document the entire process here, but rather will show just a few steps here and there so you can see how easy it is for us amateurs to get great results.

Whisk it, baby!

Whisk it. Whisk it good!


First, dump all the dough’s dry ingredients into your mixing bowl and give it a good whisk. While you should always do this with a large quantity of dry ingredients, it’s especially important with potato flour, which is clumpy by nature.

My baby hard at work....

My baby hard at work....


I loves me KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer. I don’t know how I ever lived without this thing. And the color – I bought a cover to protect it, but the bright Tangerine color cheers me so that I can’t bear to hide it. Okay, I’m starting to gush, so, anyway, once you add the oil and water, give it all a good mixing, and then start the kneading. 8 minutes. If the dough is too dry (if it remains too crumbly for longer than seems right), add a tablespoon of water. One will usually do it.

Oh my ... so pretty

Oh my ... so pretty


Eight minutes later, a ball of perfection. This is my favorite bread dough – it always comes out of the mixer just perfect. It’s stuff like this that makes me want to quit my day job and bake bread for the rest of my life. Seriously. But, until that day comes … it’s time for the first rise. An hour or so is all it takes.

We're almost ready for the fun part - making the knots

We're almost ready for the fun part - making the knots


An hour later, we’re ready to start working on the knots. This dough is just lovely and cooperative, it’s a joy to work with. I use my trusty silpin roller to flatten and shape the dough into a rectangle on a large cutting board. PJ’s tip to use a pizza cutter to slice the strips is brilliant (hence the cutting board – don’t use your silpat mat here).

Perfect knots!

Perfect knots!


PJ’s instructions for forming the knots are excellent. I think it took me maybe 3 knots the first time to get the hang of it. Once you do it right, you’ll easily be able to do it again and again. Don’t obsess over them. Remember, they have another rise to go through, and as the dough expands, all gaps will be closed and dings smoothed out. Try it – you’ll see!

Just before the knots finishing browning in the oven, I take them out and spread on some of the garlic butter and top it with a little of whatever cheese I’m using (today, I used brie). Then it’s back into the oven for a just a few more minutes. The knots get another brushing of garlic butter, a sprinkle of seasoning, and … dinner is served!

Yeeeuuuuum!  Yes, they really do taste as good as they look.

Yeeeuuuuum! Yes, they really do taste as good as they look. (Those aren't pats of butter, but rather slices of brie which will finish melting in a couple of minutes.)

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2 Comments
  1. October 1, 2008 4:40 pm

    Lovely photos! And I am going to make those garlic knots this weekend.

    With fruit salad I’m more of the kitchen sink kind of person. Grapes, apples, oranges, blueberries, peaches, melon and more – all in one bowl. Sprinkle with a few walnuts when serving and maybe a spoonful of yogurt. Yum!

  2. soupaddict permalink
    October 1, 2008 8:17 pm

    Thanks, Susan! I hope you’ll enjoy those knots as much I do — they’re just darn yummy and very welcoming for different kinds of additions (like minced onions).

    Ya know, I never thought about adding a little yogurt to a fruit salad … I might just try that … I think that’ll create a really great texture along with its creaminess. 🙂

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