23 June 2013

Three Cheers for Rhubarb!

One batch of rhubarb cordial turns into three summer drinks.  Perfect for warm evenings on the front porch.

From the Left: The Rhubarb Sangria, The Rhubarb Royale, and The Rhubarb Daiquiri.  One batch of rhubarb cordial provides the extra-special not-so-secret ingredient for all these drinks.

The Rhubarb Daiquiri

(for a pitcher)
1/2 c. freshly squeezed lime juice
1-1/2 c. rhubarb cordial (see recipe below)
1 c. amber rum

(for an abstemious single drink)
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
3 oz. rhubarb cordial
2 oz. amber rum

This is not the over-sweetened slushy stuff you get at Thank God I Don't Work Here on two-for-one Tuesdays.  We have provided the measures for a single daiquiri, but make a pitcher.  Really, make a pitcher.  This is a rock star of a drink.  

Mix all the ingredients in a glass pitcher sometime in the afternoon, like just before you weed your garden or take your dogs for a long walk.  Chill in the refrigerator.  Rim serving glasses using a wedge of lime and dredging in sugar (we like a martini glass for this).  Put the glasses in the freezer.  Go do something outside for a couple of hours.  Give the daiquiri a stir before pouring into chilled glasses and enjoy.  Here's the good news: because you made a pitcher, there's another one waiting for you.

The Rhubarb Royale

(per single serving)
1 oz. rhubarb cordial (see recipe below)
3 oz. dry white cava

Pour one ounce of rhubarb cordial in the bottom of a champagne flute, top up with cava (about 3 oz.).  Garnish with a curl of fresh rhubarb (a carrot peeler works perfectly for this).  You could, of course, substitute champagne or other sparkling white wine for the cava, but why would you?  Cava is a beautiful bubbly, made in the same method as champagne and is substantially less expensive than similar-quality french champagnes.  

When we were moving from Ontario to Newfoundland, we took our time driving out.  In Nova Scotia, we spent a few days at Risser's Beach Provincial Park, taking a break from the road, picking up sand dollars in the surf, and making ridiculously pretentious meals on our campfire (like fire-roasted beetroot and goat cheese salad).  One day when we were too hot and tired for cooking, we drove down the road to MacLeod's Canteen and had fish & chips (some of the best fish & chips we ever ate, incidentally) and rhubarb fizz.  We went back the next day for more rhubarb fizz.  We are fans of fish & chips (who isn't?) but the rhubarb fizz completely stole the show, and we talk about periodically even now, 11 years later.  The Rhubarb Royale is a grown-up (that is, alcoholic) tribute to that rhubarb fizz on the beach.

Hey... where did this cat come from?
The Rhubarb Sangria

1 c. rhubarb mash (by-product of rhubarb cordial, see below)
1/2 c. brandy
1/2 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 bottle cheap red Spanish wine   
orange wedges for garnish
ice cubes

In a blender, puree rhubarb mash and brandy.  Pour rhubarb-brandy mixture into a glass pitcher or carafe (the container needs to be able to handle 1.5 liters of liquid).  Let the flavours mingle for a little while (long enough to fold a load of laundry or do some dinner prep work).  Add orange juice and red wine to the pitcher, stir thoroughly.  Serve over ice in red wine glasses or tumblers, garnished with a wedge of orange.

Use an inexpensive red wine for this, but not one that will leave you with a headache. So pick a red wine you might drink on it's own, but stick to the lower price range that you typically buy from (we used a temperanillo).  The rhubarb matches the wine for flavour and there's a lovely subtle burn from the brandy; altogether a beautiful way to boost your fiber intake and get a good dose of antioxidants; not to mention all that vitamin C between the rhubarb and the orange juice.  Oh yes, we're totally selling this to you as a health-food... 

How to Make a Ridiculously Easy Rhubarb Cordial

recipe adapted from Eat Like a Girl

2 lbs. rhubarb, chopped roughly (thumb-sized hunks)
1-1/2 c. water
1 c. (scant) sugar

Combine rhubarb, water and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for about 15 minutes, until rhubarb is softened and has broken down and become stringy.  The sauce should be slightly reduced and thickened.  Stay in the kitchen while the rhubarb is cooking and watch your pot -- it can boil over suddenly if you aren't paying close attention (ask me how I know).  Remove from heat and let cool about a half hour (hey, that's enough time to read a couple chapters of that book you are trying to finish!).

Left: Rhubarb chopped into thumb-sized pieces.  Right:  The thick stringy stew ready for straining.
Strain the liquid into a jar or other suitable glass container:  this is the cordial, congratulations, it really is that easy.  The cordial will keep refrigerated for about a week.  If you want to save some for later, freeze in ice cube trays or other appropriate-sized containers then transfer the frozen blocks to freezer bags to make your freezer space more flexible.  Reserve the rhubarb mash for sangria (above) or to use in smoothies in the next couple of days.  

Most cordial instructions tell you to use a jelly bag for straining.  We bought a jelly bag a few years ago and used it exactly once:  for some reason, jelly bags are cat hair magnets, so it didn't last long in our house.  We use a drip coffee system for straining cordials, jellies and such the like, and have found it has a couple of advantages.  Firstly, the gold mesh filter does not seem to capture cat hair.  Secondly, there is not need for creating a complex string and weights hanging system; you just set the filter on top of your jar and don't worry about it.  Plastic drip holders and filters come in a couple of sizes (mug sized and coffee pot sized), are pretty inexpensive and a lot less messy than mucking around with muslin or jelly bags.  

Three cheers for rhubarb! on Punk Domestics
my photos on tastespotting

18 June 2013

Dude, where's my rhubarb?

In which Fefe Noir and caribougrrl search the countryside for abandoned rhubarb patches, embarrass a fish monger, and make a surprising discovery close to home.

We stopped in Perry's Cove to have a quick look for rhubarb and took advantage of the scenery to take a picture
of what 4 lbs of fresh cod looks like.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been using a lot of rhubarb; partly because it is rhubarb season but largely because it has been a bit of work perfecting a particular rhubarb recipe for the blog.  Something we've discovered with this blogging business is that "this is great, next time we should try this or tweak that" is fine when you are cooking for yourself, but it doesn't pass muster when you are cooking in order to tell someone else how to make something.  Through the jigs and the reels, we have exhausted our rhubarb supply.  We have exhausted the supply of rhubarb we can politely beg from our neighbours.

Fefe had a tickle in the back of her mind of having seen a decent rhubarb patch somewhere, that looked like it didn't belong to anyone.  Maybe along the shoreline?  Maybe at an abandoned house?  Somewhere in Newfoundland for sure, she thought.  Fefe, by the way, has a poorly developed hippocampus. We figured even if we didn't find the patch from her memory, there are enough derelict homes around that we might strike gold on our rhubarb mission.

There are some great old houses, sadly abandoned,
but that's the way of things.  Watch your step for sheep
poop, but some apple trees and raspberry canes to keep
in mind for future forays. 
It sounds a bit shady, I know... but think of it like dumpster-diving for rural people.  Food left uneaten simply because it's not actively tended.  (We did have cash in our pockets and were prepared to buy some at a roadside stand if necessary.  But free is better when it doesn't cause any harm.  So a-scavenging we went.)

At a Sunday-drive pace, we meandered through Carbonear and Freshwater with no luck, but it was early still.  Heading into Victoria, Fefe and I startled the dogs (happily snoozing in the back seat already) with a burst of excitement.  Not rhubarb, no.  As good or better: a sign for a fish truck!

The significance of this is probably lost on most, if not all, of you reading here.  Firstly, in Newfoundland, it's not at all strange to stop on the side of the road or in a parking lot and buy fresh, frozen or salted fish from a truck.  Up until sometime last summer or fall, one of these trucks was permanently situated on the south side of Harbour Grace.  So for years, we bought our fish across the harbour from the house.  Lovely.  But then the truck was gone, and until the moment we spotted that fish truck sign, we hadn't found one convenient to home for buying local fish.  So what luck, right?  Whee!

He was out of halibut and scallops, so we went for the fresh
cod.  Note the greens hanging in bags in the background.
In all the ado I forgot to ask the very charming fish truck man his name, but: the fish truck is in Victoria on Thursdays and Saturdays, and in Clarke's Beach on Wednesdays and Fridays.  He was happy enough to let us take a picture of his set up, but turns out to be camera-shy himself.  Or maybe we just startled him with what must have seemed like disproportionate exuberance? (I have to confess that when I get excited about something, I talk too much and too fast and it's possibly overwhelming if you were planning on a calm, steady, ordinary day of selling fish.)  In any case, he waved away the camera and ran for cover.  

Since we had just started out, not yet found rhubarb, and were reluctant to turn back, we bought some ice at the gas station up the road and turned our rhubarb basket into a makeshift cooler.  Did I mention that when I'm excited and talking too much, I sometimes take leave of my senses?  I bought 4 lbs of fresh cod (there are only two of us) AND a big bag of turnip greens (our garden is full of both salad greens and cooking greens... I mean, it's evident the absolute last grocery item we could possibly need is leafy green veg, but there you have it, I just had to have some).
caribougrrl wore her favourite rhubarb-hunting footwear,
 but to be honest, you'd have trouble finding an event
that she didn't think of as an excuse to wear rubber boots.  

As an aside, but an important one if you ever plan to tour Newfoundland by car, the drive we continued on is part of the Baccalieu Trail, one of the official "scenic routes" of the province.  Newfoundland has few roads and most roads outside of St. John's that aren't the Trans Canada highway, are coastal, so driving almost anywhere in the province is part of a scenic route.  I don't mean to sound dismissive... the scenery really is spectacular in a wild-fantastic tumble-into-the-ocean way.  Not that we noticed, eyes trained as they were to try and pick out patches of broad deep-green leaves breaking up the otherwise scrappy early summer vegetation.  Incidentally, the blueberry plants are heavy with flowers right now, and not that I'm wishing time away, but I'm already looking forward to berry season.  

We diverted whenever the road looked reasonably safe and occasionally pulled over to check out some promising vegetative patterns (no luck).  We spotted a few lonely looking rhubarb patches that on closer inspection appeared to belong to a house being lived in.  We took the dogs for a walk at Perry's Cove (no rhubarb) and toyed with the idea of knocking on a couple of doors where the backyard rhubarb looked like it wasn't being used.  Yet in the end, our mainlander selves got the best of us and we decided to keep looking rather than be sociable.

In Ochre Pit Cove, there was a brilliant looking patch of rhubarb that seemed to belong to an obviously empty and unused house.  But so many neighbours out about.  Deciding to wait for a more covert opportunity we pressed on.  The gas gauge by now was getting a bit low; worrisomely low actually.  We went past a few abandoned properties taking a mental note to check on the way home if we didn't have better luck before then.  There are some really huge rhubarb patches tended in front yards and back yards along that stretch of coast.  We began to develop rhubarb-envy.  When the gas station I knew would be our saving grace in Northern Bay turned out to be closed down, we decided that was the signal to turn ourselves around and head back.

Those abandoned properties we saw earlier were too long abandoned.  If there had ever been rhubarb, there wasn't any more.  But some good finds anyway:  a few apple trees in bloom, though from the evidence at the scene, we might have to fight through some grazing sheep for them come fall (I am only mostly kidding, I wouldn't aggravate sheep just for a few apples, and we do have an apple spot already, but you never know when you need a second picking ground).  But those are the breaks, sometimes these scavenging trips are a bust.  For good measure, we kept going slowly and kept our eyes peeled all the way home.  And forget the money in our pockets, not only had we spent it on fish and greens, but there was nary a roadside rhubarb stand to be seen.    

When we'd finally given up, easy walking distance from
home, there it was.  The mythical feral rhubarb!

A few hours after we'd started out, feeling a teensy bit disappointed (but we had fish!), we drove back into Harbour Grace.  Which is when Fefe Noir was struck by a metaphorical thunderbolt.  Harbour Grace.  Along the water.  Walking distance from home.  THAT might be where she'd seen the rhubarb.  

The full haul.
Sure enough, precariously clinging to the edge, there it was.  A rogue patch of beautiful rhubarb, likely taken root after being dumped with other yard waste over the edge.  So we got out, sat securely on what we hoped was solid cliff-edge and plucked enough rhubarb to both meet our immediate needs and ensure some new growth. 

Likely part of the reason we exhausted our own rhubarb is that we have been picking it incorrectly over the last few years and thereby not encouraging it to spread.  As it turns out, you should not cut it with a knife.  Grab and twist those suckers right out of the ground. (If you'll allow me another diversion, here is where I confess that I grew up parented by gardeners, gardeners who know how to maintain rhubarb, gardeners who undoubtedly taught me how to pick rhubarb.  I should have paid better attention.)

Fully successful and feeling rather pleased with ourselves, we took our bounty back home.  We ignored the spatchcocked chicken in the fridge prepped for our supper; it could wait another day.  What we needed at the end of this day was obvious: fresh cod, wrapped with sage in bacon, cooked on the barbecue   Life doesn't get any better.  Well, it does, but if I told you what we drank with it, that would spoil an upcoming post...
Bacon and sage wrapped cod.  Life could be worse.

11 June 2013

Abundance-of-Chives Pancakes

More chives than you know what to do with?  Have no fear!

recipe adapted from Yi Reservation.  

for the dipping sauce:
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp golden syrup (or honey)
1 tsp grated ginger (or more or less)
1/4 tsp minced fresh hot pepper* (or more or less)
1 tsp minced fresh chives

for the pancakes:
3 c. unbleached all purpose flour
pinch of salt
3/4 - 1 c. hot water (tap hot)
2-3 c. chopped chives, including buds and/or flowers
sesame oil
sunflower oil

To make the dipping sauce, mix together vinegar, soy sauce, syrup or honey, ginger and hot peppers and let stand for at least half an hour.  Sprinkle chives over surface just before serving.

*We had some unusually hot serrano peppers on hand, so we used those and it worked nicely. If we'd had those lovely little hot thai chiles, we would have used those.  Regardless, something with more heat than flavour is what you are aiming for.

Mix flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl; add hot water a little at a time, mixing it in as you do so.  Only add as much as you need to make a soft dough.  Knead a few times (5 or 6) to smooth the dough.  Form into a ball.  Put a bit of sesame oil on your hands and rub over dough.  Cover bowl with a towel and let the dough rest for 20-30 minutes.

Lightly oil your work surface and rolling pin.  Divide dough into 6 pieces.  Working with one piece at a time, form a log with the dough and roll out to a thin, oblong sheet.

The tricky part of this operation is rolling the pancake but don't panic: there are photos below to help illustrate the process.

Rub the surface of the dough lightly with sesame oil.  Sprinkle 1/3 - 1/2 c. of chives over the surface of the dough.  Roll up tightly from the long end, making a log.  Coil the log around itself making a spiral.  Keep the long seam  on the inside of the coil.  Roll the spiral into a flattened pancake, approximately 7 inches in diameter (or to whatever thickness you prefer).  

Left: rolling the chives into the pancake from the long end.  Right: the spiral resulting from coiling the long roll on itself.  Center: the flattened pancake ready for frying.

The oiling and the multiple rolling is what makes the flaky layers in this pancake.  Chives may break through the surface, but don't sweat it.  If your aesthetic sensibility can't handle this, you can roll your original sheet less thinly, or use fewer chives.  Bear in mind, however, this recipe is about making use of the bounty of chives in the garden; the pancake is simply as a vessel for the chives, a delightful chive-delivery system if you will, so we've really packed them in. 

Heat some sunflower oil (or canola or avocado or lard, whatever you like to cook in) in a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat erring on the side of medium.  Cook each pancake until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes per side.

Cut into wedges with scissors, and serve with dipping sauce.


Ever since we made scallion pancakes for the first time (just this past winter, I have no explanation for how it took so long to discover this gem of a food), we have been looking for an excuse to make them again.  Too many chives?  Perfect.

There are literally tens of thousands of recipes out there for scallion pancakes.  What we liked about Yi Reservation's was the relatively low cooking temperature making it easier to get a crispy exterior but still cook it through without burning the outside.  Also, we like his ambitious project and, being cat owners ourselves, we really like that his profile photo includes a cat.  There are worse ways of picking a recipe, right? 

Chives will grow successfully pretty much anywhere... in the ground, in a pot, in dry conditions, in wet conditions, in the far north (far-ish, anyway) and the deep south.  They are perennial and need very little maintenance.  Seriously just about anyone can grow chives, so everyone should try it.  The thing is, of course, eventually there are more chives than you know what to do with.  Don't worry about it.  For one thing, if you alter your mindset to see chives as a green vegetable rather than simply a spice or a garnish, you can really use them... in recipes like this pancake, by the cupful in quiche or salads, or stuff them in the belly of a trout.  And if you can't get past the garnish-mentality hurdle, then be assured chives make a nice ornamental.  The flowers are really pretty and, though smaller, are much cheaper than the purely ornamental alliums.  Grow them in your flower beds like we do! 

6 June 2013

The Very First Salad

...of the gardening season, that is.

a very simple recipe:

a mix of very young greens from the garden
a handful of chive flower buds (optional)
walnut oil

Fefe said, "This is the kind of salad you could eat with your fingers if it wasn't so cold out."  In fact, it's the kind of salad you probably should eat with your fingers.  Get up close and personal with your food.

Fill your favourite salad bowl with the very first spring greens from your garden. (We have a mix of mizuna, spinach, arugula, grand rapids lettuce, and some rogue tatsoi).  Garnish with chive flower buds.  Drizzle with walnut oil.  Sprinkle with salt.  Enjoy.

If you don't use pesticides, don't let your dogs pee on your garden, and avoid mowing your lawn just prior to picking salad greens, then you will not need to wash them.  Washing greens this young will only bruise them anyway.  If, however, you are a germophobe then (a) feel free to ignore the advice and (b) don't accept a dinner invitation at ours.

Greens this young have a very delicate flavour, so respect that... don't lose them in a complex dressing.  

If you've never eaten a raw chive flower bud, be aware that they pack a bit of a punch.


This week at the local grocery store, a head of romaine lettuce costs about $3.50.  This romaine lettuce is, well, unappealing:  browned on the leaf edges, a bit on the limp side and trimmed excessively by the produce staff to make it presentable.  I forgot to look at the origin (since I wasn't buying it, after all), but it wouldn't surprise me if that head of lettuce had travelled across the continent to get here.  All in all, it would make for a depressing salad.

But that's what makes this time of year so fantastic.  We get the satisfaction of dodging the miserable mass market salad.    We get to feel superior and self-congratulatory as we munch on our own, home-grown greens.

We are early sowers of lettuce (but lazy-early, we aren't growing year-round under a hot box... yet... if you are using a hot box, take this opportunity to feel a wee bit superior yourself).  Every spring it feels like we wait FOREVER for the ground to be workable enough for the first cold-tolerant seeds to be put in.  And then Fefe is out every day, bundled up in wool layers, scouring the ground with her eyes, anxious to see signs of germination... it's usually when she's finally given up and re-seeded (not that she lacks patience or anything, ahem), that things finally start to go.

Plucking a bit of self-seeded tatsoi from the midst of the over-crowded grand rapids leaf lettuce (a wee bit of arugula in the foreground).  Note the arm warmers.  We may be gardening, but we are still cold.

It's possible our impatience can be accounted for by being transplanted mainlanders.  We grew up with spring happening with the calendar: in March.  Not here.  Spring is fleeting in Newfoundland: snow tends to keep falling through April (sometimes into May) and it stays cold for a long while.  The best way I've found to recognize spring here is when the foggy days start to outnumber the frozen ones and the wind, which is never gentle sticking out here in the Atlantic ocean, picks up enough to rob the air from your lungs every time you open your mouth.  After a couple of weeks the wind settles a wee bit, or at least it become less constant (or maybe we just get used to it?) and we hit our last frost date in June.  By the last frost this year, we were picking our first salad.  

This garden-eagerness of ours is often noted by neighbours and passer-bys when our gardening efforts begin in earnest.  There is no end of helpful and well-meant advice that it is much too soon to put in this or that seed.  And some years they're right.  But we take our chances because what's the worst that can happen?  Nothing.  And in that case we cut our losses and simply seed again. 

Due to the helpful nature of a particular stray neighbourhood child, and maybe the wind, the mizuna and spinach are very friendly with each other this year.

At any rate, as a result of Fefe's somewhat exuberant planting of leafy greens, thinning is generally necessary... something of a desperate necessity, actually.  There is no point, however, in thinning too early; why waste all that potential food by pulling it up before it's worth eating?  So the very first salad of the year is when the greens are just smaller than the "baby" greens you can buy at the supermarket and crowded in so tight you are starting to worry about it.

1 June 2013

Dandelion "Three Ways" Pizza

(I love when chefs on those reality cooking contest shows make things "three ways", so the name derives from that, they're just sensibly all in one bite, not spread out pretentiously across a platter.)

1 recipe dandelion flower pizza dough (see below)
a handful or two of semolina or corn meal
1 recipe dandelion green pesto (at room temperature so it's spreadable)
grated or crumbled feta cheese (preferably sheep's milk feta, unless you have a different preference)
1-2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 tbsp (or more or less) dandelion capers
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven and a pizza stone on the lowest shelf to 450F.  If you don't have a pizza stone, don't panic.  You can use a baking sheet instead, but use second-to-bottom shelf or higher up.  There is a certain je ne sais quoi that will be missing from the baking sheet technique, but quite frankly if you've never used a pizza stone, you won't know what you're missing, so you won't miss it.  Ignorance is bliss and all that.  (Pizza stones are not terribly expensive and WILL change your life, so consider buying one.)

A batch of dandelion flower pizza dough will make about 4 individual pizzas (the plate in the picture is a pretty ordinary sized dinner plate).  So, divide dough into 4 portions and roll out on a semolina or cornmeal dusted board to a 7 or 8 inch diameter pizza base.  Let rise, covered by a damp cloth, until obviously thickened (~20 minutes in a warm house).  You can use as much of the dough as you need and store the remainder in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Spread pesto on your risen pizza dough.  The toppings of the pizza will weigh down the dough where you put them, allowing the dough where they are missing to rise more during cooking, resulting in the relatively thick pizza crust.  This is important to know so you can decide how widely to spread your pesto... it depends entirely on how much crust you want.

Cover the pesto layer with feta, cover the feta with shallot, sprinkle dandelion capers over the shallot.  Add fresh ground pepper to taste.  The toppings in the ingredient list will do for about 4 individual pizzas, so adjust for the number of servings you are preparing.  Since pizza is really photogenic at this stage, here's what ours looked like:

Slide your pizza onto the pizza stone. This sounds easy, it often is, but sometimes things go wrong... so take a deep breath and find your zen center or whatever you do to calm yourself.  The semolina or cormeal on the board will help with the slide; you may want a spatula (or clean broad putty knife) on hand to help get the pizza moving.  If you have put a lot of toppings on, these might weigh it down and make it difficult to slide, so be aware.  Hover the board just over where you want the pizza to be, slide the pizza forward as you pull the board back and voila, you pizza should land well.  This is now going to sound very cheeky, but: do try to do this swiftly so you don't lose too much oven heat.

Bake for 12-16 minutes until crust is golden brown, cheese is melty and shallots are just a bit crispy in parts.

Dandelion Flower Pizza Dough

1 c. yellow dandelion fluff
2 c. unbleached white all-purpose flour + 1/2 c. as needed + more for kneading as kneaded (heh)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. hot water (tap-hot, no hotter)
2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast (traditional)
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp unfiltered extra virgin olive oil (filtered will also work, as will non-virgins)

If you can't get the dandelions out, roots and all, before they flower, the least you can do is remove the flowers before they seed, right?  To collect the dandelion fluff, pick a bunch of dandelion flowers (avoid the ones with insects) and chop off the green end, leaving you with the lovely yellow fluffy part (petals, nectar, pollen, etc.)... do this until you have 1 cup's worth.  Work quickly so they don't brown.

In a large bowl, mix together dandelion fluff, 2 c. flour and salt.

In a heat proof bowl, mix sugar into hot water, sprinkle yeast over water to proof.  When the yeast is foamy, you are good to go.  If it doesn't foam try again with slightly cooler water (in case it was too hot)... if it still doesn't foam, chances are good you need to toss out your dud yeast and make a trip to the store.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast mixture and oil.  Stir flour mixture in gradually until smooth and elastic.  Stir in more flour, a handful. at a time until you have a soft dough.

Turn out onto a well floured surface; knead until dough is smooth and starts to push back at you (5-10 minutes). Add flour as you need it (i.e. add flour if it gets sticky).  When it's ready, if you poke it, the imprint should slowly but absolutely, surely fill back in.

Rub a little olive oil on your hands and rub your hands over the surface of the dough.  Cover loosely with a damp cloth and let rest until doubled in bulk (30-60 minutes, thereabouts, depending on how warm and how moist your house is... ours is bloody freezing so we could be waiting for a couple of hours or more).  Punch down and knead lightly to remove trapped air bubbles; let rest for 10 minutes.  Now it's ready to use.


Given the success of drawing dandelion flavour out in our vodka infusion, we decided to give it a try as a bread flavour.  A quick Google search indicated other people had also tried this, so we figured that if we were crazy, at least we had company.  Our first attempt was with whole wheat flour, but whole wheat competes too heavily with the dandelion flavour... it also just isn't nearly as pretty because that beautiful yellow gets lost.  So really, use white flour.

The taste of dandelion bread is difficult to describe.  It tastes different than regular-arsed pizza dough.  Sunnier?  Buttery?  Floral-y and nectar-y?  Depends how many martinis you tasted beforehand...

The three-ways of dandelion in one dish might sound overwhelming, but we think it works, not just as a novelty, but as a dish.  And any day that ends with fewer dandelions in the yard than it started with is a good day.