I love soup during the winter months. Lately, I’ve been on an Italian leaning soup kick, having made ‘clean out the freezer/fridge/pantry’ Minestrone Saturday night and Northern Italian Spinach and Cornmeal Soup last night. Or rather, Arugula and Cornmeal soup, as I have arugula in the garden attempting to bolt because it’s been so warm this winter. February and the arugula is bolting. Go figure.
The arugula was a good substitute – the peppery bite gave an otherwise mild soup a nice flavor. The little food critic that lives in our house that generally finds this soup rather ‘boring’ gave it a two thumbs up.
What better to go with a big pot of homemade soup than a fresh baked loaf of bread? For years I have been on the hunt for the perfect bread recipe. I have read with some fascination about no knead loaves, but I find when I feel like having fresh baked bread, I want it NOW and not in a few days, for fresh baked bread takes time. A good number of the no knead recipes I’ve seen call for starting the dough at least a day ahead of time, which is well and good, but sometimes I really need immediate satisfaction. A few months ago, I found this recipe for a no-knead olive bread. It calls for a two hour first rise, an hour long second rise and it’s no knead. How could I not try it?
As if that wasn’t enough, it was also an olive bread. When I worked at a local non-profit, Tuesday was Free bread day courtesy of a grocery store chain that likes to donate their day olds to local ‘charities’ (I’ve actually heard employees of this store say that to customers). I once grabbed a loaf of what looked to be Rosemary bread, only to find it was Rosemary Olive bread and we fell in love with it. After that, I grabbed a few loaves every week. I have since been unable to find this bread at said grocery store and we have missed it. Pat kept telling me I could make the bread myself, but honestly, I’ve yet to really perfect homemade bread.
That is my finished loaf last night. I have baked two loaves of this in the last three days and we have eaten them. Both Pat & I agree, this is the best bread I’ve ever made. I have stopped searching for the best bread recipe, because this is it. I started the dough 3:30 Saturday afternoon and we were eating it by 7 pm Saturday evening. It’s good.
I used what I think are Black Cerignola olives from the grocery store olive bar. (I’ve been able to find them at both Kroger and Whole Foods.) They are large, meaty and pitted. I cut around the stone in a way similar to how I chop mangos. Edie, who swears up and down she can’t stand olives, eats these without complaint. For the most part, I followed the recipe as it is on the website, with a few exceptions:
Adding fresh chopped rosemary along with the olives.
Sprinkling sea salt on the top before putting it in the oven
Omitting the cornstarch wash
Doubling the amount of water poured into the broiler pan
Making two loaves, rather than four.
I imagine this bread would be good plain as well. In the past I’ve used leftover Rosemary Olive bread in savory vegetable bread puddings, for grilled cheese and for a different take on French Toast. I think I’ll have to track down the original cookbook and take a gander at it for sure.