so seeded

January 23, 2011 § 1 Comment


Getting a late start in the kitchen last night I dove right into these–I didn’t do the multi-source, cross-check research that is very typical for me before making a new recipe. So, essentially I just used the recipes as they were. I didn’t even read the posted reviews.

I came across the recipes on Facebook in the last couple of weeks. Yep, Facebook. My friend Rena forwarded a bread recipe which turned out to be a forward of a forward. I wonder if there is a word yet for an item that is passed along numerous times? There should be. The soda bread was appealing since I really like seeded and hearty breads. The soup(stew) was listed on Good’s Facebook page. Good is a real printed magazine about things that matter in the world. Good things.

Also, I’ve been very interested in trying my hand at bread making. This soda bread is a “get your feet wet” step, since it isn’t a yeasted bread. I’ve already had my fair share of quickbreads, but now with my new stand mixer I will be trying real bread soon.

Seed collector. I tried to grow fennel in my backyard patio garden a couple of years ago. I didn’t succeed, but I saved the cool stens with seeds. I pulled down those remnants from my pantry. I used them up but it provided less than a teaspoon. Since the Fall other recipes called for pumpkin or sunflower seeds so I had them in my collection. I could have spent a couple of hours arranging just the seed for some interesting photos, if I had a photo lighting set up instead of the overhead fluorescents in my kitchen (belch!), and more time. but just some quick shots of the ingredients are included. Shown in the shots below is only half of the amount used for the bread.

The bread was so easy. Wet added to dry, typical technique. So, prep went quickly. The smell that emanated from the oven was great. Some fennel some flour. The spelt flour definitely added to the aroma. In forty five minutes I had a huge chunk of six-seed soda bread. Without the yeast it doesn’t have the typical bread texture or flavor complexity. It was sort of a cross between a scone and wheat bread. With lots of seeds! I wonder what it will taste like today for lunch? It was a nice partner for the lentil stew.

Dinner last night, was like recreated meal in a vegetarian cafe in SF. Tassajara comes to mind. So pure. The soup was simple to prepare too. maybe too simple? In the end I felt it needed a bit more depth. The base was just a few cloves of chopped garlic. I am sure that a bit of chopped celery, carrots, and shallots would improve the base. And more garlic. But I wanted to stick with recipe. I needed ‘simple’ at the late hour I started dinner.

I used green french lentils. They hold their shape better than the regular lentils. The original recipe only makes two servings, so I increased the recipe by one-half to ensure leftovers. I used Pacific brand vegetable stock, in the box, which provided 4 cups. I had to add a little water to make up the difference. The quality of the stock has a large part in the resulting soup, vegetable stocks have been disappointing in the past. The Pacific brand was pretty good, not overly carrot-y as some others are. I am still searching for my goto brand. I also added some fresh thyme. Why not? When tasting for salt pepper when the soup was done, I found that the soup was lacking depth so I seasoned just a bowl portion–I added more lemon juice, more cayenne, and some cumin too. Better.  Don’t leave out the fresh lemon and mint, otherwise it’s just plain old lentil soup.

The recipe lists feta cheese as an option, which sounds great but I didn’t have any and didn’t want to make a run for just that. I think this is really not optional in the recipe as it likely adds some complexity and contrast to this simple soup. Maybe some feta for the left over leftovers after my Rainbow foods shop today?
This soup/stew is something I could experiment with in the future. Even now it likely will hit the spot when I get back from my bike ride this afternoon, if I decide not to have a second breakfast instead.

FOLLOWUP EDIT: The soup improved overnight–as expected. I even added the feta, but the flavors in the soup–definitely a stew consistency now–blossomed quite a bit on its own. It wasn’t a simple soup any longer. So maybe either a longer, low simmer or even making it earlier in the day would  intensify the flavor on the cooking day.

Then two days later, I still had bread! So the last slices were topped with a great fig jam. This bread is good. The buttermilk gives it a tanginess and a bit of moisture.  Grabbed the camera a snapped a few because I wanted to remember the inside as well.
six seed bread

Listening to:
Odd Blood – Yeasayer
Good News For People Who Love Bad News – Modest Mouse
A Strange Arrangement – Mayer Hawthorne

Worrisome Heart – Melody Gardot
Love In The Time Of Science – Emiliana Torrini
fennel seeds

Recipes after the jump…

Six-seed Soda Bread – 101 Cookbooks

2-1/2 tablespoons EACH sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1-3/4 cup / 9 oz / 250 g spelt flour
2 cups / 9 oz / 250 g unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1-3/4 cup / 14 oz / 400 ml buttermilk
a bit of extra buttermilk/milk

Preheat your oven to 400F / 205C. Place a rack in the center of the oven. In a small bowl combine all the seeds and set aside.

Sift the flours, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir in all but 2 tablespoons of the seeds. Make a well in the flour, pour in the buttermilk, and stir until the dough just comes together. If you need to add an extra splash of buttermilk because the dough is too dry, you can. As Hugh says, “Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly for about a minute, just long enough to pull it together into a loose ball but no longer – you need to get it into the oven while the baking soda is still doing its stuff.”

Place the dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and mark it with a deep cross across the top, cutting two-thirds of the way through the loaf with a serrated knife. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with the remaining seeds, making sure plenty of seeds make it down into the cracks.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until the bread is golden crusted on top and bottom (you may want to move the oven rack up for the last 15 minute if you need more color on the top of the loaf). Cool on a wire rack.

Makes a single loaf.

Prep time: 10 min – Cook time: 40 min

Adapted from River Cottage everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, published by Bloomsbury.

Lentil Stew with Spinach and Potatoes Bon Appétit | May 1995

Reflecting the cuisines of Israel and the surrounding Mediterranean Middle Eastern countries, this meatless stew is seasoned with mint and lemon. Serve it with sesame seed rolls and a tomato and cucumber salad; have pistachio ice cream for dessert.
Yield: 2 Servings; Can Be Doubled

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 cups canned vegetable broth
1 cup lentils, rinsed, picked over
8 ounces red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 lemon
6 ounces torn fresh spinach leaves (about 8 cups)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Heat olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Add vegetable broth and lentils; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add potatoes; cook uncovered until potatoes and lentils are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, grate 1/2 teaspoon peel from lemon; squeeze enough juice from lemon to measure 2 tablespoons. Add lemon peel, lemon juice, spinach and cayenne to stew. Cover and simmer stew until spinach wilts and is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Mix in mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over low heat before serving.)

Spoon stew into large soup bowls. Sprinkle feta cheese over, if desired.

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§ One Response to so seeded

  • Madelyn says:

    I’m excited to try this soda bread. It looks fantastic. The seeds are just beautiful. I’m keen to try the lentil soup too, but I have some local grown, organic split peas in the pantry that are crying for me to pull them into a pot. So, soon. Soon.

    If you have Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, check out his section on baking. He’s got some good intro to yeast breads that are quite tasty. I was shocked to find that he suggests using a food processor for them. I’ve tried it. It works well. His pizza crust is now a weekly favorite in our house. If you decide to try that out, I’d highly suggest salting the outside rim of the crust once you’ve topped it. Salted crust is outstanding.

    Keep up the good work Ed. I’m catching you out here in cyberspace.

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