Soup and Bread Suppers
Copyright 1995, Liz Waters

It has been a weird winter so far -- unseasonably warm and awfully wet.
They say it is an El Ninjo's work, but I say we'll have to pay before winter is
out ! That payment is liable to be in more natural acting January weather,
and that is the perfect weather for the simplicity of Soup and Bread

The first thing I want to talk about is making bread. Now, anyone can make a
pot of soup, although I have a couple of neat new recipes for soup to share
with you, but bread is another story. This week, we shall address making
bread by hand, and in a future session, we will get into bread machines.
However, there are certain involved.

First, repeat after me - the yeast is my friend....the yeast is my friend.
Yeast is a living organism, which is in suspended animation in the jars,
envelopes or bulk containers at the health food store. You want to awaken
this sleeping beauty with the gentlest of baths -- gentler than Prince
Charming's kiss. Too hot and you'll cook the yeast, too cold and it just won't
warm up to doing its job. You want the temperature to be about 95 degrees,
or a little warmer.  Test it like a baby's formula. It should feel neutral on
your wrist. Yeast is, bu the way, a microscopic life form. It consumes sugar
and gives off carbon dioxide. That carbon dioxide forms bubbles in the dough
which makes it get soft and fluffy. What keeps the bubbles from popping?
The gluten in the flour, or added extra if your flour is in no condition to turn
loose of its gluten (whole wheat). Now, to make two loaves of plain old
white bread, here is what you need to have on hand:

  2 tbsp. active dry yeast (2 envelopes)
     1/4 cup   lukewarm water (test on your wrist)
     7 Tbsp   nonfat dry milk powder
     2 1/2 Tbsp  sugar (to feed that yeast)
     1 tsp     salt ( to keep that sugar-stoked yeast from getting out of hand)
     1 3/4 cup water for the dough, silly.
     2 Tbsp   melted unsalted butter
     6 cups   Better for Bread flour

Now, here' s how to do it.

In a small bowl, dissolve the  yeast  in  1/4 cup body temperature water. Set
is aside and let it do its thing. If you are feeling generous, a pinch of sugar
makes a nice show of good will toward the yeast which is going to give its
microscopic life for you to have good bread. Set aside and wait for it to
start bubbling away, giving you  proof that all is well with the yeast.

While it is doing its thing   mix  the  powdered  milk, sugar,  salt  and  1 3/4
cups water together in a large mixing bowl, Stir with a whisk until smooth,
then add yeast mixture when it has proved its worth. Next,  sift in 3 cups of
flour and mix until smooth. Add the melted butter. Gradually sift in the
remaining  flour.   When  the dough begins to fight back a little, turn the
dough out  on a lightly floured board and gradually work in enough flour to
make a nice firm dough that isn't sticky. Knead that dough for ten minutes. 
And I do mean knead it. Put your kneading board on your kitchen floor. Turn
on the stereo, or Rush Limbaugh (only if he makes you mad). With your
favorite rock blaring or your ire rising at Rush's stupid logic, put a knee on
each of two corners of the board. Set a timer for ten minutes and you're ready
to begin. Come down in the middle of the dough with the heel of both hands.
Back off, turn the bread 1/4 turn, fold it over and come down again.
Establish a rhythm  to the music or to your own internal clock and knead
away for the FULL TIME E.  The dough will be smooth and satiny.  Dump it back
in the bowl, cover with a clean linen towel and place it  in a warm place to
rise for 45 minutes to an hour. It should be about double in size, bulging
over the top of the bowl and smelling deliciously yeasty. Meanwhile you
should have scraped your bread board of any kneading residue and dusted it
lightly with a little flour. Dump the bread out on that board and cut it into
two pieces. Lay the towel over top of them and let it rest for 10-15
minutes. Knead each piece individually and then flatten out into a rectangle.
Roll tightly and turn ends under as you plunk the dough, seam side down in
your greased loaf pan. Cover loosely with the towel and return to your warm
place. Let rise until dough is peeking over the tops of the pan and carefully
slide the loaves into a 375 degree oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the
bread, when you turn it out on a rack and thump on its bottom, sounds
hollow. If it doesn't  sound like a drum, flip it back into its loaf pan and give
it another 5 minutes.

Turn the finished bread out on racks to cool. When cool, store in plastic
bread bags or serve (if you can wait. . . there is something about fresh bread
still warm from the oven).

And now, for a soup to go with the bread. I  think tonight, it will be

Winter Minestrone

3 T olive oil                      
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced               
 1 T basil
l lg. celery stalk, chopped        
1/4 c pearl barley
1 t sp rosemary, oregano, thyme 
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper 
1/2 lb. Italian Sausage links, cooked and cut in 1/2 
inch diagonal slices
1 can  red Kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
2 potatoes, diced                 
 2 lg carrots, diced
1 can mushroom slices
8 c beef stock                    
 2/3 c roti
ni pasta
1 turnip, peeled, diced            
1 large. tin tomato paste
2 c. shredded gr. cabbage
1/2 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Saute onion, celery, garlic, rosemary, oregano, thyme in oil until onion is
soft. Add barley, potatoes, carrots, and stock and bring to a boil. Cover, and
simmer for 20 min. Add turnip, Cover and simmer 20 more min. Mix in 
sausage, beans and kidney bean liquid, pasta and tomato paste. Bring to a
boil, cover, gently boil until pasta is cooked (15 min) Add cabbage and cook,
uncovered, until cabbage is tender-crisp (5 min). Salt and pepper to taste. 
Stir in Parmesan cheese and serve.

Another good soup for a cold night is

Green Bean Soup 

1 clove garlic, minced
5 celery stalks, sliced           
 1 bunch green onions, sliced
4 tbsp unsalted  butter                     
2 tbsp.flour
2 qt. chicken stock                     
3/4 c powdered milk
3  medium sized red skin, potatoes, diced but not peeled 
  salt & pepper
1/2 c fresh parsley, minced             
 1 T fresh dill, minced
1 1/2 c nonfat yogurt       
1 10 oz pkg.  frozen French style green beans

Saute garlic, celery and green onions in butter until not quite tender. Stir in
flour. Add stock, stirring until blended. Add powdered milk and stir over
medium heat until thickened. Add potatoes, and seasoning, simmer, stirring
often, until potatoes are tender, about 1/2 hour.     Stir in yogurt and green
beans. . Simmer for 20 min.

Whole Wheat Roll  (an  Old World flavor to accompany hearth soups)

 1  cup   oatmeal (rolled oats)
 1 cup   whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp   salt
1/2 cup   shortening, 
4 Tbsp    honey
2 cup     boiling water
4 tbsp. (4 packages)  active dry yeast 
1 cup   warm water
 1 tbsp.    honey
 2   eggs, slightly beaten
 6-7 cups unbleached flour

Combine oatmeal , whole-wheat flour, salt, shortening, molasses, and honey. 
Pour boiling water over the mixture.  Mix to blend and let cool to room

Dissolve yeast in warm  water  with  the  honey. Add eggs to cooled batter,
then mix in the  dissolved yeast.  Add flour until  dough  is  just soft  enough 
to  knead.  Knead lightly 5-7 minutes. (remember white bread rules for
kneading) Place dough in a greased bowl; cover with  a  damp cloth.   Let 
rise  in warm place until doubled in  bulk at least one hour. Punch down
dough and cut  into  24  equal  pieces. Shape each piece into a ball in put 12
rolls each into two  greased   9-inch pan.  Let rise again for 45 minutes.
Bake in a preheated oven at  350  °  F  for  40   minutes. Brush with
melted butter and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

These rolls are slow risers, so be patient with them.

And for dessert, these rich cookies from the British Isles. Serve them with
vanilla ice cream! This recipe was found on the Internet.

Chocolate Biscuits of Doom

These are rich and chocolatey to the extreme.  You have been warned.

1.  Cream together
        125 gm (1/2 cup) butter
        1/4 cup castor sugar (superfine sugar will do)
        1 tsp. vanilla extract 

2.  Sift and stir into creamed mixture
        1 cup self raising flour
        (or plain flour with 1/2 teaspoon each of baking soda and baking 
        Pinch salt
        1/4 cup cocoa (Dutch process is best) 
3.  Roll into balls and place on greased cooking sheet with room to spread.

4.  Flatten each ball with a fork dipped in cold water. Don't crisscross.

5.  Bake at 190 C (375F) for 7 to 8 minutes.
6. While still warm, dust with sifted confectioners sugar.

Made these this week and they are excellent!

Obviously from Australia!

Australian Damper

INGREDIENTS (1 damper)
     2 1/2 cups self-raising flour
     1 tsp     salt
     1 tsp     butter
     1 tsp     sugar
     1 cup     milk (or use 1/2 cup of powdered milk and
     1  cup water.)

          (1)  Preheat oven to 350 ° F.

          (2)  Mix together the dry ingredients and the  butter.
               Add  the  liquid  and mix well.  Knead for about 5
               minutes (if you don't know about kneading, look in
               a  good  cookery book with plenty of pictures-it's
               difficult to describe in words).

          (3)  Shape into  a  flattened  ball,  and  place  on  a
               greased  and  floured baking sheet or in a greased
               and  floured  round  cake  tin  (I  recommend the
               latter,  about 7 or 8 inch diameter, as it gives a
               better shape). Bake for 30 minutes.  Use  a  dutch
               oven  if  you are cooking in an open fire, and use
               your experience as to cooking time.

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