Category Archives: Sides

Giovanni’s Rustic Bread

This makes a crusty, heavy bread.  I usually make a sponge and do a first rise for around 15 minutes for a better tasting bread.  Feel free to skip this if you don’t have the time.


1 &2/3 cups of water
1 packet of dry yeast
One teaspoon of sugar
1& 1/2teaspoons of salt
3 & 1/4 cups of flour


Pour 1& 2/3 cups of tepid water into a ceramic or glass bowl, large enough to hold double the amount of your final bread dough. As for the temperature of the water, err on the cool side. Hot water kills the action of the yeast.

Sprinkle in 1 packet of dry yeast. Let the yeast soak for about 1-2 minutes; until the yeast absorbs the water. Stir vigorously with a whip.

Add one teaspoon of sugar, white or brown is okay. Stir vigorously with a whip. This helps to activate the yeast.

Let this mixture set for around 4-5 minutes until the yeast starts to foam. If it foams it confirms that you have good yeast. This will prove that the yeast is good and active. If the yeast does not foam stop and get new yeast.

Add 1 & Y2teaspoons of salt and stir in. This slows the yeast process down and adds taste to the bread. You can add more or less depending on your taste.

Slowly add 3 & 1/4 cups of unbleached, unbromated, high protein flour. Stir as you add the flour until it becomes difficult to turn, then use your hands to knead the bread. As an option you can add wheat flour, say %cup and the rest, 2 & 1/4 cups of white flour.

Knead for about 10minutes. On a floured surface, push with the palms of your hands, pull it back and over and push again.

Then set the dough in a bowl and cover with a dish towel.

Let it rise for a minimum of one hour. The longer you let it rise the tastier it will be. Two hours is better.

After it doubles in size, punch it down and let rest for about 5 minutes. Then form into a loaf and place on a greased sheet or bread pan.

Let rise for an hour.

Turn on oven to 450-500 F a half hour before baking.

Immediately before you put it into the oven, slash the top of the bread with a razor. This will allow the bread to rise faster during the spring rise time (first 10 minutes of baking) The heat should be high at this point. 450-500F. (See next step before beginning this one)

With an atomizer spray the surface of the bread and inside of the oven immediately before putting the bread into the oven.

Spray again in about 3-5 minutes. This slows the crust from crisping so that the bread can continue to rise.

After 10minutes lower the heat to 400F and cook until golden brown. One way to determine if the loaf is cooked is to snap it with your fingernail on the bottom and if you here a hollow sound it is done.

Place on a wire rack to cool.

Michael’s Notes:

1) I use bread flour.  Works for me

2) This dough seems a lot wetter than most of the dough I have worked with.  Had to use some additional flour on the board / my hands to prevent sticking.  Other than that, works great and rises well with this proportion of flour / water.

3) I use 2tsp salt – I like it better.

4) I use a perforated baguette pan for rising (ebay $10) Saves a lot of hassle trying to get a wet dough off of a cutting board and into the oven without it falling.

Spinach and Proscuitto Salad

12 slices prosciutto
6 Roma tomatoes, halved (again I use whatever looks best/is around)
olive oil
cracked black pepper
6 1/2 oz baby spinach leaves
6 1/2 oz fresh asparagus, blanched
1/2 cup parmesan cheese shavings

2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup basil leaves, shredded
3 ts brown sugar

Place prosciutto and tomatoes, cut side up, on a baking dish and
sprinkle with olive oil and black pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 25
minutes or until prosciutto is crisp and tomatoes are soft. (I always
find the tomatoes take longer)

Arrange spinach and asparagus on serving plates. Top with tomatoes,
prosciutto, and parmesan.

To make dressing, combine all ingredients and pour over salad.

*I find the amounts above are never  enough …… probably because I have never made it for only 4 people! T

Potato Salad with Arugula, blue cheese and dijon vinagrette

2 lbs red potatoes, cut into 1/4 in slices
2 tbsp salt
1 medium garlic clove, peeled and threaded onto a skewer
1 1/2 tbsp champagne or white wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 c walnuts, toasted and chopped  coarse
4 oz roquefort cheese (I used basic danish blue cheese as I like its
milder taste better)
1 small bunch arugula (basically as much as you want)

**1. Place potatoes, 6 cups cold tap water, and salt in large saucepan;
bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium. Lower skewered
garlic into simmering water and partially blanch, about 45 seconds.
Immediately run garlic under cold tap water to stop cooking; remove
garlic from skewer and set aside. Continue to simmer potatoes,
uncovered, until tender but still firm (thin-bladed paring knife can be
slipped into and out of center of potato slice with no resistance),
about 5 minutes. Drain potatoes, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water.
Arrange hot potatoes close together in single layer on rimmed baking sheet.

2. Press garlic through garlic press or mince by hand. Whisk garlic,
reserved potato cooking water, vinegar, mustard, oil, and pepper in
small bowl until combined. Drizzle dressing evenly over warm potatoes;
let stand 10 minutes

*STEP BY STEP: Dressing the Potatoes*

After the potatoes have been thoroughly drained, spread them out on a
rimmed baking sheet and drizzle evenly with vinaigrette.

3. Toss dressed potatoes with walnuts, cheese and arugula.

Potato Galette

This dish makes a great side for a tenderloin or other hearty main.  If you want to serve it with something lighter, substitute the Gruyere cheese with more parmesan.  You can also substitute the thyme with rosemary for a stronger taste.

 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; plus 1/2 tsp. for the pan
1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes
1 heaping tsp. very lightly chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup finely grated Gruyère

Combine the shallots and 3 Tbs. of the oil in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce to a low simmer; cook the shallots until nicely softened (don’t let them brown), about 2 min. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.


Heat the oven to 400°F. Rub the bottom and inside edge of a 7-1/2-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with butter.  You can use olive oil or spray if you want, but I like butter.  VERY IMPORTANT –  Put the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil.  Otherwise, the pan will leak, you will have a smoky kitchen, and you will be cleaning you oven.


If you have way too much time on your hands: Slice the potatoes as thinly as possible (about 1/16 inch) with a chef’s knife. Otherwise: use a food processor to slice the potatoes.  Put the potato slices in a mixing bowl, add the shallots and olive oil along with the herbs and toss well to thoroughly coat the potatoes.


Cover the bottom of the tart pan with a layer of potato slices, overlapping them slightly. Start along the outside edge of the tart pan and, making slightly overlapping rings, move inward until the bottom is covered with one layer of potatoes. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt (a generous 1/8 tsp.) and then sprinkle about one-quarter of the Parmigiano and about one-quarter of the Gruyère over all. Arrange another layer of potatoes, season with salt, sprinkle with cheese, and repeat two more times, until you have four layers of potatoes.  Top the last layer with more salt and any remaining cheese.


Bake the galette until the top is a reddish golden brown and the potatoes are tender in all places (a fork with thin tines should poke easily through all the layers), 45 to 50 min. The bottom will be crisp and the sides brown.


Let the galette cool for 10 or 15 min. in the pan. It will then be cool enough to handle but still plenty hot inside for serving. Have a cutting board nearby. Run a paring knife around the edge of the galette to loosen it and carefully remove the tart ring by gently pressing the tart bottom up. Slide a very thin spatula under and all around the bottom layer to free the galette from the tart bottom. Use the spatula to gently slide the galette onto a cutting board. Cut into four or six wedges, or as many as you like.

Grilled Potato Salad with Radicchio and a Sherry Vinaigrette

A This is a great potato salad for a summer BBQ.  One of our favorite.  Really goes well with BBQ Chicken with a Dijon Tarragon Sauce .

1/3 Cup Sherry wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 TBS Dijon Mustard
Olive Oil
1 Shallot finely chopped
2 lbs red skinned new potatoes, cut in half
2 lb small zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
3/4 lb radicchio, coarsley chopped
8 oz goat’s cheese
Chopped fresh chives

Whisk vinegar and dijon into a bowl.  Whisk in  olive oil to form an emulsion until the mixture thickens a litte.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook potatoes in pot of water for around 15 minutes.  DO NOT OVERCOOK.  Drain and let cool.

Toss the zucchini in salt and pepper and a little olive oil.  Grill the zucchini and the potatoes on the BBQ for a few minutes until the zucchini is cooked, and the potatoes are a little charred.

Mix the potatoes, zucchini, radicchio, sauce and 1.2 the cheese together.  Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top along with some fresh chives.

Yeast Rolls

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
2 packages active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup water
1 egg
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
IBloom yeast.  Mix all ingrediants into a soft dough.  Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, around 2 hours.
Punch the dough down and refrigerate for 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.  Refridgeration will ad to the taste, but if you ar ein a rush, leave at room temperature and it will ouble much faster.
 Grease 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Pull off pieces of the dough, about a 1/4 cup each and shape into 24 rolls. Place 12 rolls, sides touching in each of the 2 prepared pans. Brush with butter. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the rolls until well browned on the top, about 15 minutes. Transfer the pan to wire racks to cool for 5 minutes.