Thursday, August 22, 2013

whole wheat garlic knots and fresh marinara sauce

I've been living in Paris for over a week now, so I'm going to write about French food another favorite American staple: garlic knots and marinara sauce. To healthify it, I'm talking about whole wheat garlic knots and fresh marinara sauce. But not until after I prattle on for a bit about how things are going in la belle France.

Paris, je t'aime, but you have some seriously nonsensical rules. Here's my favorite paradox that I've run into so far: in order to sign a lease for an apartment, I needed to show proof of a french bank account to set up payments. But, in order to open a french bank account, I needed to show a lease as proof of residence in France. Luckily I've worked in government before, so I'm used to cyclical bureaucracy. 

I'm going to spare you the super boring details, but after wandering through a maze of obstacles and roadblocks and wtf moments, I finally managed to both open a bank account and lease an apartment ON THE SAME DAY. That day was yesterday. It was one of those moments where I felt so lucky and excited and joyful that my heart felt like it was made out of fluttering butterflies and I couldn't stop smiling. Because I'm living in Paris! And I'm doing grown up things! Successfully!

So I'm almost not homeless anymore! Move in day is the 28th. I'm going to be living in a charming little studio on the Rue de Seine, just a 6 minute stroll from campus. Like most studios in France, it doesn't have an oven, so I'm on the hunt for new friends in Paris who have ovens and would like to eat whole wheat garlic knots with me. Or chocolate chip cookies. Or wild blueberry pie. If you know of anyone, holler at your girl, ok? In the meantime, I'm going to subsist off of things that don't require an oven, like wine. And Finding Nemo bars.

so. much. garlic. mmm.

1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz can of roma tomatoes, drained and chopped
6 leaves fresh basil, or 1 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste

Warm up the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté until the little pieces are lightly golden and your apartment smells like garlicky heaven.

Make sure the tomatoes are well drained, then add them to the pan, along with approximately 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring every once in a while. The sauce will thicken during this time. Remove sauce from heat, and add basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. That was so easy, wasn't it? We should do this every day.

life lesson: make friends with boys who will bring you garlic from their parents' farm. thanks tai!
my knotting method of choice: fold it it over, pull through, tuck it up
makes 10 knots

1 package dry active yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup hot water
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

In a small bowl, add yeast and sugar to water, and stir for two seconds with a fork. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, or until the yeast is frothing. 

In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and salt. Create a small well in the center of the bowl, add the olive oil, then pour in the yeast mixture. Mix everything together with a fork until dough comes together. The dough should be a little sticky. If it's too sticky, add some more all-purpose flour. If it's not sticky enough, add a couple more drops of water.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes. Grease a large bowl, and put the dough inside, flipping it once to coat. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let it rise for about 1 hour in a warm place.

After the rise, punch the dough down to deflate it and release any of the gasses trapped inside. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface, until it's about 10" x 10". I'm serious when I say "about" - I'm really bad at rolling out dough to precise measurements - it just means that you'll have some bigger garlic knots and some tinier garlic knots.

Slice the dough into 10 strips, using a knife or pizza cutter. Make the knots however you want! You can use the picture I have above as a guide, but as long as the dough is all knotted up, you're good to go. Once your knots are knotted, cover them with a kitchen towel, and let rest for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F.

Grease two baking sheets, place the knots on top, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the knots are golden brown. Keep an eye on the bottom of the knots - they should be browned slightly, but don't let them burn!

While the knots are baking, combine minced garlic cloves, melted butter, olive oil, and coarse sea salt in a large bowl. As soon as you take the knots out of the oven, throw them in a bowl and toss to get them smothered in buttery, salty, garlicky heaven. Serve immediately. 

Bonus: your hands will smell like garlic for the rest of the day. Mmmm.

for the perfect picnic, make these recipes with some shrimp avocado jalepeño salad, buy a bottle of champagne and take me to tanglewood to hear the bso.

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