Friday, July 5, 2013

wannaGROW: Chives (and Cheddar and Chive Focaccia)

It's a bit amusing to have a wannaGROW on the topic of chives, as most people have such voracious chive plants that they don't want them to grow! I've lucked out with, yet another, discovery in our garden... a lovely and small and reasonable little chive bush.

I read on one garden website that "chives do not thrive on neglect," which I laughed at because I really haven't given my chives much TLC. Partially because I don't want them to spread like crazy but partially because I am still figuring out what I need to do with all of these plants in my garden. 

I've learned that you should harvest the chives by cutting them about two inches above the soil, using scissors, to encourage regrowth. So, unlike the rhubarb where you should absolutely NOT cut, here it is okay to cut. Harvest from the outside edges to the inside. Remove the flowers, as they appear, to keep the plant vegetative and producing.

4 cups bread flour (possibly more depending on your humidity level)
2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons quick rise yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup shredded sharp white cheddar
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped chives
Olive oil

In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, and sugar. Leave it to activate for ~10 minutes. Slowly add the flour to the yeast mixture, one cup at a time. Use a fork to combine. As the dough begins to come together, flour your work surface and begin to knead the dough. You want to develop the gluten in the dough, so flex those muscles and get ready to knead for about 15 minutes. Your dough should be smooth and elastic, it can be tacky but not sticky. If your dough is sticky, add a bit more flour and work it in.

Grease a clean bowl with olive oil and roll your dough ball in the oil to coat. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour.

After an hour, your dough should have doubled in size. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment. Punch down and add your cheddar and chives (you can sprinkle them over your dough and fold it to incorporate, repeat but be gentle!). Reserve a few chives to sprinkle on top. Shape into a large oval on your parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with the tea towel again and leave to rise for another 45 minutes.

Heat your oven to 400F.

After this second rising, use your fingers to dimple the surface of the dough. Drizzle olive oil over the surface of the dough. I didn't measure this but would approximate that it was about 1/4 - 1/3 of a cup. You just want a good coating and those dimples to get a little reserve of olive oil. Sprinkle with the remaining chives, salt, and, if you'd like, a bit more grated cheddar. Bake for 20 minutes, until surface is golden brown and glistening with that hot oil.

Resist the temptation and let the bread cool slightly before slicing. Cut into slices or squares or whatever you'd like! Serve with chive blossom butter.

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