lola rugula deli style medium rare roast beef

for the love of la quercia

La Quercia is a socially-conscious company I discovered a few years ago and one I’ve become a huge fan of. They came onto my radar back then as a group of people who were making a prosciutto here in the U.S. that was actually comparable to the Italian stuff.

I told my husband about La Quercia and he ordered an full, bone-in slab of prosciutto that we ate until we couldn’t eat any more. Eventually we were kind enough to share some with family and friends. (You’re welcome)

Recently, I ordered some of their Speck and Lomo from Zingerman’s, who was running a pretty good sale on some of their La Quercia products. (If you’ve not checked out the online store to world-famous Zingerman’s, please take minute and do so!) Not surprisingly, these were just as delicious as their prosciutto. Not the greatest photo but here’s a shot of what I ordered:

la quercia speck lomoSo, after enjoying some of my purchase as part of a charcuterie and cheese plate, I was on to a better way to highlight these.

As luck would have it, I made a small batch of my homemade ricotta cheese last weekend, so I also had some of that looking to be used.

how to make homemade ricotta cheese recipeNot so unusual is that I also had some baby arugula on hand. If you’ve read my About Me page or just happened to realize the play on words, my blog name is an ode to my love for spicy little rocket leaves. So with these ingredients in mind, I threw together some quick French Bread last night and sliced it and assembled this for our dinner:

la quercia speck with poached egg arugula and fresh ricotta recipeThis was very simple but absolutely delicious – I made this to serve just the two of us. I’ve listed the ingredients in the order I assembled these.

Crostini with Ricotta, Arugula, Poached Egg and Crispy Speck

  • 4 slices of French bread, toasted on both sides and rubbed with a sliced clove of garlic
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Arugula
  • 4 Poached eggs
  • 2 paper-thin slices of La Quercia Speck, crisped in a heavy pan and broken into pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper

la quercia speck poached egg arugula fresh ricotta recipe

How to make a poached egg? Here’s how I do mine:

Bring a deep skillet of water with 1/2 cup of white vinegar added to it to a slow boil. Gently add eggs to water. After 2 minutes of cooking, using a large spoon, gently turn each egg over in the water. Let simmer another minute to minute and a half and, using a slotted spoon, remove them from the water. I like to gently place spoon and egg on top of a paper towel to absorb some of the water before placing on plate or bread. You may have to play with this a bit – everyone’s idea of a slow boil/high simmer is different and everyone likes their eggs just a little different than the next person.

la quercia speck poached egg arugula fresh ricotta recipePretty simple right? But packed with flavor and, if you love poached eggs like we do, a fantastic Friday night dinner.

Enjoy!

lola rugula deli style medium rare roast beef

quick french bread

I always say I’m not a bread person but if you give me great loaf of warm, crusty bread that’s still soft and chewy in the middle, I’ll probably gnaw your arm off to get some.

The beauty of this bread is it takes full advantage of fast-rising or quick-rising yeast. This makes it possible to knock out a loaf of French bread in less than 2 hours.

I’ve made a lot of homemade bread and this one is 3 of my favorite things in the kitchen:

  1. Easy
  2. Fast
  3. Delicious

Are you with me?

quick rise french bread recipe lola rugulaThis only makes one loaf so feel free to double this recipe if you want 2 loaves. It keeps and freezes well, I just love it fresh out of the oven.

Quick and Easy French Bread Recipe

  • 2 1/4 cups flour + 1 cup more to work the dough with
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 package fast rising or quick rise yeast
  • 1 cup hot (125 degrees) water

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, salt and yeast.

Add the hot water all at once and mix well.

Drop your dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, adding your extra cup of flour a little at a time. The key here is this: keep adding your extra flour just enough to keep the dough supple but still a little sticky. It shouldn’t be a sticky mess – if it is, keep working in your extra flour reserve – but don’t add so much flour that it becomes dry and flaky. A little moistness is good here.

Once it’s reached a firm but slightly sticky ball, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, grease a baking sheet. If you’d like, sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of corn meal on the oiled pan.

Once rested, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about a 10″ x 15″ rectangle. Rolling from the 15 inch side, roll the dough up like a jelly roll and pinch the end together to seal. Place on baking sheet, seam side down.

Cover and let rest for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Using a sharp knife, slice a few diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across the top of the loaf.

Bake the loaf in a 425 oven for 25-30 minutes. Let rest if you can wait that long, otherwise, if you’re like me, slice right in and enjoy.

quick rise yeast french bread recipe lola rugula

Now you know you can customize this a bit if you’d like:

  • Right before baking, brush with a mixed wash of 1 egg white and 1 tablespoon water for an extra-crispy crust
  • Toss a few teaspoons of herbs or chunks of roasted garlic into the dough before kneading
  • Try it with your favorite flour or a mix of flours

I hope you’ll try this! Imagine it warm out of the oven with some lovely jam or fruity olive oil. Again, it’s easy, fast (for bread) and absolutely delicious.

lola rugula deli style medium rare roast beef

the perfect sandwich

My husband has made this sandwich for me twice now and both times, it was heavenly. Everyone has their own version of their perfect sandwich and this one is definitely in my top 5.

Here’s his ingredient list:

  • smoked deli ham
  • sliced avocado
  • thinly sliced colby cheese
  • sliced onion
  • sliced tomato
  • romaine
  • sliced chilca pepper
  • mayo
  • rye bread

And here’s the sandwich:

the perfect sandwich lola rugulaHis argument, as I declared this one of the best sandwiches ever: it tasted great because someone else made it. My argument to his argument: No, it’s really pretty damned delicious.

What’s your favorite sandwich?

lola rugula deli style medium rare roast beef

zucchini bread recipe

Zucchini bread is a must-make for me come the end of summer. It’s a great way to use some of my zucchini overload and, bonus, it freezes really well. This comes in handy when the days are cold and I’m craving some.

lola rugula homemade zucchini bread recipe

Zucchini Bread Recipe

  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 7-8 gratings from a whole nutmeg
  • 3/4 – 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

I love King Arthur’s Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour, so this is the type of flour that I use for this recipe.

lola rugula homemade zucchini bread recipe

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and then add the sugar, canola oil, shredded zucchini and vanilla. Mix well.

lola rugula homemade zucchini bread recipe

Then add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix very well.

lola rugula homemade zucchini bread recipe

If you’re adding the walnuts, stir them in and mix well again.

Let the batter rest while you preheat your oven to 325. Grease and flour 2 loaf pans well. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.

Place in prepared loaf pans and bake for approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes.

After removing from oven, let loafs cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes. Using a butter knife or spatula, run it along the sides of the pan, between the bread and the pan, to loosen the bread. Carefully tilt the pan on its side and then upside down, wriggling it a bit with your hand to gently loosen it and remove the bread. Let loaf cool.

lola rugula homemade zucchini bread recipe

I admit that I make this a morning project when the weather starts to cool. I generally make 2-3 batches of these. One is for us, one is for my parents and the rest go into our freezer. I’ll make at least one more round of these – probably 6 or so – in the coming weeks.

There is nothing like a slice of warm zucchini bread to make my morning complete.

lola rugula homemade zucchini bread recipe

This recipe is from my mom and, though I’ve tweaked it a bit throughout the years, it’s always turned out fabulous. Sometimes it takes 5 more minutes or so in the oven but the flavor is always rich and satisfying. I hope you like it!