Today's recipe is Lyonnaise Herb and Garlic Cheese, a flavorful dip from Around my French Table, for our FFWD group.
It reminded me of a dip I used to make when I was in high school. Before I got hold of cookbooks the standard onion dip consisted of sour cream with some dried onion soup or powder, salt and pepper. I added vinegar to it as suggested by a friend, and it was the best, different and even kind of mysterious.
Now there's little mystery regarding recipes, with all the web information, but some things are still consistently good. I think this tangy cheese fills that bill.
It's oh so simple. Some fromage blanc, which we have abundantly in this country where dairy is very very good, or some ricotta mixed with herbs, vinegar and olive oil. I did this one exactly as prescribed.
Cheese mixed with shallot, garlic, chives, parsley, tarragon, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. I then left it for one day in the fridge to allow the flavors to combine, especially the garlic which I love, but believe it's best to use less and let it infuse for a day or two. It can be done with any mixture of herbs really, custom-made to what´s lying around or to your personal taste.
Dorie suggests stuffing tomatoes with it (stuffed cherry tomatoes for a party would be great) or thinned with some milk to use as a salad dressing. Great versatility as you can see.
With a loaf of French bread it's a perfect last-minute dip to share before a meal or with potato chips as a snack.
That's why I want to share a recipe for regular, crusty, fluffy bread that I've been making for years. I don't think I will ever come across a simpler version of it. It involves a food processor and 45 seconds of your time instead of the average fifteen minutes of kneading. Then you proceed as any bread: one rise, rest the dough and shape the loaves, let rise again and bake.
For starting bakers it will make your day, since the dough is firm, extremely easy to work with and it delivers beautiful looking loaves. Don't expect a complex flavour in the finished bread though. This is straight, white, French bread.
Perfect for the garlicky soft cheese. Or a slab of good butter.
from The Best Bread Ever, by Charles Van Over
Note: The final tº of the dough should be between 75º- 80º F / 24º - 27º C. You might want to check with a thermometer, but it really is easy to use common sense, like you would the temperature of the water to mix the yeast, you know, just a bit warm.
To know what capacity your processor has and to get used to this dough it might be good to do half the recipe the first time.
3 ½ to 4 cups (500g) bread flour
2 teaspoons (10g) fine sea salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 ¼ cups (315g) water
Place the flour, salt and yeast in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.
With the machine running, pour all but 2 Tbs of the water through the feed tube. Process for 20 seconds, adding the remaining water if the dough seems crumbly and dry and does not come together into a ball during this time.
Continue mixing the dough another 25 seconds, for a total of 45 seconds.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place it in a large ungreased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 1 ½ to 2 hours at room tº.
It will increase in volume somewhat, but don´t be concerned by how much.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. With a dough scraper or kitchen knife, divide into 3 equal pieces and shape them into rough balls. Cover them with a sheet of plastic wrap and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
On a work surface, sift a fine coating of flour. Place one ball of dough on the surface and gently pat it down to an even thickness of 1 inch (2,50cm). Do not attempt to deflate every air bubble.
Form into a cylinder and then gently roll using your hands in the middle, into desired length. If the dough resists, let it rest for 5 minutes and continue rolling.
Place each shaped baguette, seam side down, in an oven tray which has been dusted lightly with cornmeal or flour. Sprinkle the loaves with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap o clean towel. Let the baguettes proof 30 to 45 minutes, until the dough increases by half its size. It should feel soft but still spring back slightly when poked with your finger.
Preheat the oven to 475º thirty minutes before baking. Place a small pan for water in the oven floor. I simply throw quickly a cup of very hot tap water in the oven floor when I put the bread in, and close the door immediately.
Uncover the loaves. Slash the loaves three times on the diagonal with a razor or lame.
Slide the baguettes into the oven and simultaneously pour the hot water. Close the door quickly. Reduce the oven to 450ºF /220ºC.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the crust in golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped with your fingers.
Remove the bread and let cool in a wire rack.
Eat warm or within the next few hours.