Monday, June 18, 2012
Before my senior prom, a group of friends and I went to my (then) favorite restaurant, Romano's Macaroni Grill. I loved the paper tablecloths, (and writing on them with crayons), I loved the funky ties on the waiters, (and how they all had mastered the skill of writing their name upside-down), I loved the Italian language tape playing in the bathroom, but most of all I loved their bread.
I went a couple of times as a senior, and a couple more times as I visited home the following year. I dragged friends and coworkers along wanting them to enjoy the experience I had come to love.
After my sophomore year of college, I didn't go home as often, and thus stopped going to the Macaroni Grill. For some reason, my college friends preferred another similarly themed restaurant...but to me it just wasn't the same.
The following year, I convinced my beau to join me for dinner at the Macaroni Grill, and since his mom's family is Italian he was unimpressed. The food just wasn't as good as it could have been, and since we were cooking up our own delicious pastas, Romano's just couldn't compete. It was clear we wouldn't be going back.
While I don't miss going, I do have moments where memories of the warm delicious bread get in my brain and there's no escaping them. For that, I have created my own version of their Rosemary bread.
Rosemary No Knead Bread
makes 1 loaf (about 2 lbs)
adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water (about 100 degrees F)
3/4 tablespoon granulated yeast (1 packet)
3/4 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon rosemary
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup bread flour
1 cup of water (for baking)
Pour 1 1/2 cups of water into a large plastic food container/bowl with a non-airtight lid. Add yeast and salt to water. Add 1/2 tablespoon of Italian seasoning and 1 tablespoon of rosemary to the water mixture.
Measure the 3 cups of AP flour and add it to the container with the water. Add the 1/4 cup of bread flour. Mix with a wooden spoon, or a heavy duty stand mixer with the dough hook, until the mixture is uniform. If scraggly bits of the flour refuse to mix in with the dough, using wet hands, you can press the mixture together. No need to knead.
When the dough has come together, and there aren't any dry patches, you may leave the dough in your container and place the lid on top. Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours.
Once the dough has risen and begun to collapse, prepare a cutting board with a coating of cornmeal. Sprinkle the surface of your dough with flour, and pull up the ball of dough into your hands. While holding the dough ball, add a little more flour to make it easy to handle. Gently form into the shape of a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom, rotating, and applying this step to all four sides.
Rest the loaf and let it rise on the prepared cutting board for about 40 minutes.
20 minutes before baking the bread, preheat oven to 450 degrees F, with an upside down baking sheet (or baking stone) on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on the bottom rack.
Dust the top of the dough with flour and slash 3-4 cuts (1/4-inch deep) across the top of your loaf.
Slide the loaf off the cutting board and onto the baking sheet. Pour the cup of water carefully onto the broiler tray and close the oven door. Bake for about 30 minutes, until crust is brown and firm.
Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting and serving.