Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The Michael5000 Kitchen: Curry Bread
Great cooks do not hesitate to improvise, to follow their muse into new culinary terrain. This recipe was wholly improvisational. Indeed, it was inspired entirely by circumstance.
It so happened that Mrs.5000 decided to purchase a new bottle of curry powder, despite the fact that there was still an inch or so of spice left in the bottle that we already had. Needless to say, I inquired after this seemingly rash stewardship of resources, but Mrs.5000 was ready with the reasonable retort that she had had our existing bottle of curry powder "probably since college." Now naturally one does not discuss a lady's age, but to give you an idea of the time frame here it is relevant to point out that I composed many of my own college papers on a "typewriter," and that Mrs.5000 is a bit of a cradle-robber.
To further underscore her point, my dear wife had me close my eyes and sniff each of the bottles in turn. One smelled strongly of curry spice; the other smelled like the fading memory of an Indian restaurant.
So fine, the new bottle made sense. But what to do about the old bottle? The suggestion that we "just toss it" was of course unacceptable, as I am not one to write property off lightly and there was no positive indication that it had become especially poisonous. I undertook to find a good use for it.
What I did was, I made a batch of my go-to bread machine recipe for "potato bread," which is basically a white bread recipe that includes about 1 part mashed potato flakes for 8 parts flour. Then, before I pressed the button that makes the bread machine spring to life, I dumped all of the remaining olde curry powder into the baking vessel. And then I waited three hours.
You might be surprised how well this worked. The spice did not interfere with a beautifully rising loaf, for one thing. The house started to smell fairly awesome after a few hours, and when the machine chirped we found that we had a very tasty savory bread on our hands.
It was also quite yellow. That would be the turmeric talking.
It was, like most bread, delicious while warm from the baking, but it also seemed more flavorful after cooling. It was perhaps less versatile than most breads -- no good for peanut butter and jelly, for instance -- but I found it was pretty good with hummus and even ventured a reasonable cheese sandwich. I even ended up sharing a piece, after several caveats, with a teenager, who described it as "different but pretty good"; I should mention, though, that this was an especially polite teenager.
If you would like to experiment with your own Curry Bread, it occurs to me that you need not put away a store of curry powder now so that it will be ready to use many years hence. Indeed, you -- or I, for that matter -- might experiment with using smaller quantities of fresher, more potent spices in our bread recipes, and see how that works. After all, as I said at the beginning: great cooks do not hesitate to improvise.