I could go on and on about how much we have been loving the raw, creamy goodness those jerseys produce, but instead let's talk about what has been just as wonderful:
Milk delivery night.
We get our milk through Tony and his Dayspring connection (yes, it's about knowing the right people when it comes to sourcing raw milk...), so every other Wednesday he brings us our milk order and our families share dinner.
It has been a great excuse to get together with some of our best of friends on a regular basis. We share good food, good conversation, and Liam gets a chance to burn off some of his energy running circles around Sage.
Last night I made spaghetti, a side salad, and a loaf of ricotta bread. A friend from church, Ben Hill surprised me that same afternoon with a bag of spinach straight from his garden. It screamed creamed spinach at me, so I obliged.
Rochelle requested the recipes, and I thought I'd go ahead and post them here for anyone else who is interested.
This recipe is from Rose Levy Berenbaum's The Bread Bible, which has been my go-to cookbook for most of our bread recipes lately. I substituted in a portion of whole wheat flour, which increased the rising time a smidge, but as far as yeasted bread recipes go, this one is still fairly quick. It produces a soft, light loaf, perfect alongside a plate of pasta and a scoop of creamed spinach.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk ricotta
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- Mix the dough. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine both flours, sugar, and yeast. Add the ricotta, butter, egg, and salt. Mix on low speed just until a loose dough comes together, about 1 minute. Cover bowl with a towel and allow to rest for 20 minutes. Mix with the dough hook on medium-low speed for 10 minutes.
- Let the dough rise. Place the dough in a large bowl lightly-coated with oil. Cover the bowl and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. I've learnede to just keep an eye on the dough instead of the clock. If it takes less than the allotted time, or takes much longer, what is most important is adequately risen dough.
- Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees a full hour before baking. If you have a pizza stone, preheat it along with the oven, along with the bottom half of a broiler pan placed on the rack beneath the stone.
- Shape the dough and let it rise. Divide the dough in half and shape each portion into a round loaf. Place on separate squares of parchment paper. Alternatively, you can make a sandwich loaf by shaping the entire thing into a log and fitting it into a parchment-lined (or well-greased) bread pan. Either method, cover lossley with a kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled or 1-inch above the rim of the bread pan, approximately 45 minutes.
- Slash and bake the bread. With a sharp knife (I use my serrated tomato knife), make a 1/2 inch-deep slice down the center of each loaf. Transfer the loaves still on the parchment paper onto the hot pizza stone (or place on a baking sheet if you don't have a stone). Toss a 1/2 cup of ice cubes onto the broiler pan and quickly shut the door (the steam helps the bread with its initial oven-spring and produces rounder loaves...). Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the bread is golden and an instant-read thermometer reads about 200 degrees.
- Cool the bread. Set the bread on a wire rack and cool until barely warm.
I slightly modifed Amanda Hesser's creamed spinach recipe found in The Cook and the Gardener: A Year of Recipes and Writings from the French Countryside, and came up with this creamy spinach dip.
- 3 pounds washed spinach, stems removed
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 ounces soft goat cheese
- freshly grated nutmeg
- a generous handful of shredded asiago cheese (parmesan would work, too)
- In a large saute pan, heat 1/2 cup of water over medium heat. Add the spinach and wilt, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain the excess moisture, chop roughly, and season lightly with salt.
- Wipe out the saute pan and melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the chopped spinach, stirring lightly to coat. Pour on the whipping cream, bring it to a boil to thicken slightly, about 2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, stir in the goat cheese and a sprinkle of nutmeg.
- Transfer mixture to an oven-safe dish, sprinkle the top with the grated asiago cheese, and broil until cheese is lightly browned.
- Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.