Garlic and Parsley Hearthbreads

Somewhere between a herby focaccia and garlic nan, these easy breads are ideal for a beginning bread maker. Foolproof!

3 1/2 cup white bread flour
1 package rapid-rise yeast (1/4 oz.)
1 tbs. salt
1 1/3 – 1 1/2 cups warm water
5 tbs. olive oil
3 large of 4 small heads garlic
extra-virgin olive oil
bunch flat-leaf parsley

Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Stir the oil into the 1 1/3 cups of water and add to the bowl. Stir to combine into a soft, but firm dough, using more water if necessary. Knead until smooth and elastic on a lightly floured surface, 5-7 minutes. From into a ball.

Lightly oil a clean bowl. Put the dough into the bowl, then turn it over in the oil. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375°F. Cut the tops off the garlic cloves, making sure they remain whole. Place them in foil, drizzle with olive oil and scrunch up loosely. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until soft and golden. Remove and allow to cool a bit.

Place the parsley leaves in a small food processor. Scoop out the garlic and add. Season and whizz together. Add enough olive oil to make a paste. Set aside.

When the dough has risen, punch it down and leave it to rest for 10 minutes. Divide it in half and roll each half into a bulky oval. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with a tea towel land leave to rise for 25 minutes. Heat the oven to 400°F.

Poke your fingers all over to make dimples in the dough. Brush with the garlic paste and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden.

Pasta with Anchovy Sauce

Called Bigoli con Salsa in Italian, this savory sauce is perfect with any type of pasta, but works especially well with long, robust pasta such as bucatini.

2 large onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
12 anchovy fillets in olive oil, finely chopped
1 tbs. butter
tiniest pinch ground cloves
1 tbs. water
1/2 cup whole milk
1 lb. bigoli, bucatini, perciatelli or linguini
1 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan and add the onions and garlic. Cook over a low heat for abut 10 minutes, or until you have a golden mush. Add the brown sugar and let the mixture cook another minute. Add the anchovies and stir until they begin to melt, then stir in the butter and cloves followed by the water. Gradually add the milk. When it has all come together, remove the pan from the heat.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in an abundant amount of salted water according to the package directions. Remove 1/2 cup of the water and drain.

Tip the pasta into the sauce and add enough of the reserved water to make a sauce. Sprinkle in most of the parsley, then spoon into bowls and sprinkle with the remaining parsley.

Serves 8

Garlic and Parsley Flatbreads

These are something between garlic nan and herby focaccia: dimpled, doughy and headily pungent.

3 1/2 cups white bread flour
2 1/4 tsp. rapid-rise yeast
1 tbs. salt
1 1/3 – 1 2/3 cups warm water
5 tbs. olive oil, plus more for pouring over the garlic and drizzling
3 heads of garlic
bunch of flat-leaf parsley
sea salt, for sprinkling

Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Pour in 1 1/3 cups warm water and the oil and mix to form a soft, but firm dough, adding more water if needed. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Oil a bowl and place the dough inside, turning once. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to double in size, about an hour.

While the dough is rising, heat the oven to 375°F. Cut off the tops of the garlic heads and place in a small, foil-lined baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, season and pull up the foil to form a parcel. Roast until soft and golden, about 45 minutes. Unwrap the foil and leave to cool.

When the dough has doubled, punch it down and leave it to rest for 10 minutes. Divide in half and form each into a chunky oval. Place each on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 30 minutes, or until puffy.

Meanwhile, squeeze the garlic out of the bulbs into a small food processor. Add the parley leaves, then pour in enough olive oil to make a paste. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 400°F. Poke your fingers all over the tops of the breads to dimple them, then spread the garlic paste over the tops.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the breads are golden and the garlic paste is a darker brown. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Slice and serve.

Ham Steaks with Parsley

This lovely recipe is perfect for a busy day – it comes together in mere moments, but tastes very sophisticated.

2 tsp. garlic-infused olive oil
2 ham steaks
2 tbs. white wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
lots of freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. honey
1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley

Heat a largish and add the oil.  Cook the ham steaks for 3 minutes per side, then remove to two warmed dinner plates.

Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the vinegar, water, pepper, honey and most of the parsley. Swirl it around, scrape up any browned bits, then pour over the ham steaks. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve.

Serves 2