It's my last night in Berkeley for a month — I leave tomorrow for Denmark, where I'll be studying at Aarhus Universitet. I'll miss my boyfriend a lot. So tonight, we made a particularly special dinner.
It started at the Farmers' Market, my last for a while, where we lingered at various stands and let ourselves be cajoled into buying prickly pears, roses, and most yummily whole wheat flour from Massa. I had been hoping they'd grind their wheat into flour, as we love their rice and wheat berry. They are charging $4 for a 2-lb bag, the same as rice; perhaps they'll offer a better bulk price if the flour catches on. As we found out tonight, Massa's flour is very sweet, with good flavor. Highly recommended.
In any case, in the kitchenaid with the paddle, combine 1 lb Massa whole wheat flour, 1 heaping Tbsp vital wheat gluten, 1 Tbsp salt, 1 Tbsp yeast. When the dry ingredients have mixed well, add 2 cups cool water, and mix until the dough has the consistency of cookie dough. Let autolyze 10-20 minutes, and then knead with the bread hook five minutes. Let the dough rise, and then roll into baguettes, coat with poppy seeds, and bake 25 minutes in a pre-heated 400°F oven. Let cool before serving.
The main course tonight was a tuna Niçoise salad. Rub salt and olive oil into the sides of a 1/2-lb tuna steak, cover with half a red onion and some carrots and celery, and bake 375°F for 20 minutes. Let cool.
The dressing for our Niçoise is a salad unto itself, and should be prepared with enough time to macerate. Combine in a medium bowl: 1/2 a red onion, finely diced; 2 carrots, thinly sliced; 2 small stalks celery, finely diced; 4 cloves garlic, minced; three canned anchovies, rinsed well and with their bones removed, minced; more capers than you can shake a stick at; olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sherry vinegar, to taste.
Then prepare the rest of the salad. Pick and shell 1/2 pound beans from the garden; boil these 10 minutes, and then plunge the beans into ice water. Wash, remove the tips, and chop in half 1 lb green beans; boil 3 minutes and plunge in ice water. Wash 2/3 pound very small potatoes, cut in half; boil 10-15 minutes depending on size, and then plunge in ice water. Also fill a quart-sized yogurt container with orange cherry tomatoes; wash and de-stem these.
Separate the leaves from a large head of green romaine lettuce, and arrange the lettuce and veggies artfully in serving bowls. Now that the tuna is cool, slice it into medallions and place atop the veggies. Spoon the dressing over everything. Serve with whole wheat baguette and a Chardonnay.
We finished the evening with packing and lavender ice cream. I followed my standard method for making ice cream these days. Heat 2 cups milk in the double boiler, and steep 5 stalks of dried lavender for 10 minutes; remove the lavendar and fish out any stray flowers. Meanwhile, whisk together 4 egg yolks and 1 cup sugar (a little much for tonight, I thought; maybe 3/4 cup next time?). When the milk is flavorful, label a few Tbsp at a time hot milk into the eggs and whisk, repeating until half the milk has been incorporated into the eggs. Then transfer all the egg mixture into the double boiler and heat, whisking, five minutes. Allow the mixture to cool, first out and then in the fridge, for a few hours. Then add 1 cup cream, process, freeze an hour or two to set, and enjoy!