Would you believe that I have lost not one, but two pagers now, flown from my person while riding the moped? Consequently, I’m not at all mad—proud, in fact (however the Telecommunications desk at the hospital is not so proud, rather, growing weary of my sheepish mug at their office window). But this does mean I’m riding my moped as mopeds are meant to be ridden, like wild steeds. Mopeds are the urban equivalent of galloping off into the sunset on a horse. I swing a leg, kick the stand, (tightly affix my DOT-approved helmet, mother), and revvvvv the throttle to let the entire parking garage know that I am officially POST CALL and will have the rest of the day to do with what I please so long as I can remain conscious! Follow me to freedom! And then I peel out, feeling very much like Prince here, sexy and oblivious.
I would risk a thousand pagers’ lives to hold on to how it feels to speed away from a finished shift, tasting in the wind the endlessness of free time. This just can’t be accomplished in the muffled torpor of a Prius, the highway equivalent of rolling out of bed.
And what of all things did I accomplish with today’s freedom, sexy and oblivious? Fungus ciabatta. This bread had the earthy smell to it that I unfortunately associate with too many anatomical nethers that I absolutely cannot enjoy it as food. I think it is over for me and mushrooms. But I know that many of you adore fungi, and so I offer this excellent recipe.
Ciabatta al Funghi
adapted from Carol Field, The Italian Baker
Makes 2 large oval loaves
6 dried porcini
1¾ cups hot water
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup sourdough starter
3 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sea salt, divided
Soak porcini in hot water for 1 hour. Strain through cheesecloth, but save the water. Roughly chop the porcini and pat dry. Set aside.
Sauté the fresh mushrooms with the garlic and oil and a good pinch of the salt until tender. Let cool. Set aside for the folding part of the recipe.
In your stand mixer bowl, add all of the ingredients (except the sautéed mushrooms) and mix on low until combined. Mix on medium for 2 more minutes and then take it out of the machine to finish mixing by hand until the dough is nice and soft and smooth.
Place the dough ball on the counter, cover with a very large mixing bowl, and let rest 3 hours.
Divide dough into 2, flatten each dough section out with your fingertips and scatter mushrooms on them. Roll them up, flatten out again and repeat. Roll them up again, shape into loaves (making sure that no mushrooms are sticking out) and let rest, seam side down, on a prepared baking sheet. Cover and allow to rise 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 400°F, 40 minutes before baking.
Spray loaves with water. Bake for about 45 minutes. Let cool on racks.
This bread smells like the aroma I would imagine a bathroom in a Hobbit woodland home carries. Not bad, just earthy, for those who like that sort of thing.
Good luck, pager. Hope you last longer than your friends. Hold on tight.