Lemon-caper roasted potatoes and the best bread I’ve ever made

Lemon caper potatoes

Here at the naive political philosophy department of The Ordinary, we are sick and tired of worrying about money. And bills. And not having money to pay bills. We suspect that we are not the only ones who feel this way. We have been applying ourselves to solve the problem. Here’s how it will go… Everybody will work very hard doing what they love, and they will have as much as they need to live comfortably. We trust that everybody will love to do different things, so the jobs should be nicely distributed. If somebody feels that they don’t love any kind of work, they will go to school for a time until they figure it out. Education should prepare you for a career by helping you discover your passion, and that’s how it will work. The crappy jobs that nobody wants to do will be divided evenly by everybody, and performed a few hours a day or a few days a week – whatever is necessary and pleasant. Everybody! These jobs generally involve serving people, caring for people, or cleaning up after people, and when everybody has to take a turn at them, we will all develop a love and respect for humanity that will humble and elevate us. You cannot buy your way out of this. In this way, we will reconsider our societal notions of what is valuable, and of what is successful. If you isolate yourself with more riches than you can use, and accumulate more things than you need, you will not be admired, you will seem foolish. Children are taught not to be greedy, not to want more than everybody else, and we will remember these teachings as adults. Everybody will look into their own heart or soul or stomach – wherever they make important decisions – to decide what they need, including, of course, things that don’t seem strictly necessary, but give pleasure or inspiration. So you might say to yourself, “I would like a half pint of castelvetrano olives, but I don’t think I need an elevator for my car.” This is our plan, and I’m sure you can see that it is the essence of pragmatism, and that it will be extremely practical to implement, and will go off hitch-free, and that nobody can quibble with it in any way.

In keeping with the practicality of this post, we will give you two recipes at once, and both will be for practical things – bread and potatoes. This bread is the best bread that I have ever made! All the other loaves have been preparation for this bread. It is crispy, it has a big open grain – it has holes! It’s chewy, and tasty. I nearly killed my food processor making it!! I’ve been experimenting with wetter and wetter dough, these last few months – to the point that it became very messy to knead with my hands. I was thrilled to get my food processor, because I thought I could use it to knead the dough. It worked, but at some point it seized up! There was a bad smell of burning. The dough was stuck in the food processor, the blade wouldn’t move, the container would not be budged! I scraped all the dough out into a bowl, and everything worked out in the end. I must have left it too long. The other recipe is for a medley of different types of potatoes (from our CSA!) We have red-skinned, white fleshed, golden fleshed. We scrubbed them, cut them in half, boiled them briefly, combined them with olive oil, oregano, capers, olives and lemon juice, and broiled them. Perhaps the most delightful and unexpected part of this recipe is that the capers (or flavor dynamites, as my sons call them) got crispy. Crispy! They’re delicious.

Best bread I’ve ever made!

Here’s The Velvet Underground with Beginning to see the Light. Some people work very hard, but still they never get it right. Ain’t it the truth?

THE BREAD

1 t yeast
1 t sugar
3 cups flour
1 t salt
2 T olive oil

Combine the yeast, sugar, 1/2 cup flour and one cup warm water in a bowl and set aside for about half an hour to get bubbly.

In a large bowl combine the remaining flour and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the yeast mixture and the olive oil. Mix well. It should be a very wet dough, only just kneadable with your hands. Add more warm water or flour as necessary.

If you have a food processor, put the dough in there, and process it for a couple minutes. If you don’t, stir/mix with your hands for about five minutes. It will be a bit messy, but that’s okay.

Set aside in an oiled bowl for about 2 hours till it’s about doubled in bulk. Fold/punch it down, and set it aside for another hour or so.

Lightly oil a baking sheet. Spread the dough in any shape you like. It won’t stay in a firm shape, but that’s okay. Leave it for about an hour to rise again.

Preheat the oven to 500 (or as hot as it will go. I think mine goes to 455).

Gently rub the top of the bread with water, and splash some water in the bottom of your oven, put the bread in, and close the door. After five or ten minutes repeat this process. After another five or ten minutes, do it again. Cook till the bread is golden on top, and hollow-sounding when you tap it. Thirty – forty minutes in my oven.

THE POTATOES

6 or 7 medium-sized potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut into halves or quarters, depending on their size
olive oil
lemon juice
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
2 t capers
2 t oregano
salt & pepper

Bring a big pot of salted water to boil. Drop the potatoes in and cook them for about 7 minutes. They shouldn’t be too soft. You just don’t want them to be rock hard. Drain them and let them dry a minute.

Put them in a single layer in a roasting pan. Add enough olive oil to lightly coat them. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over them, scatter the oregano, olives and capers over, and mix lightly.

Preheat the oven to 425. Cook the potatoes till they’re nicely browned on the outside and soft inside, about 20 minutes to half an hour.

Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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14 thoughts on “Lemon-caper roasted potatoes and the best bread I’ve ever made

    • Funnily, David just suggested that, as being safer and creating a more consistently steamy environment. I like the pizzazz of throwing cold water in a hot oven, though!!

  1. Hi Claire, I really enjoy reading your blog, and your recipes and pictures look really yummy. I am going to pull some potatoes out of our wine barrel this week so I can make your potatoes with crispy capers. When I make rustic bread, I use a spray bottle with water in it to spritz the bread and oven…makes quite a sizzle.

    • Hi Jillian! We talked about using a spray bottle, too, but I think if there was one around the house the boys would abscond with it. I’d have to hide it!

  2. I just stumbled across your wonderful recipe blog, and how fortuitous because yesterday we harvested a bunch of potatoes from our garden, and I was thinking of my own “bread and potatoes” upbringing, which was very utilitarian and artistic at the same time. Thanks for the inspirational thoughts and for the two fine recipes to bring us down to earth.

    • Thanks so much! I think there’s a lot to be said for simple ingredients that you season well – in food and in life. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately!

  3. Could not tell you how I ended up here on your blog.. Love the food love the stories. You are rich in heart and spirit.
    You are quite right… We all are struggling. You are not alone…don’t fret, look into your childrens eyes and know….it will work itself out!!!

  4. Thank you so much for your recipe for lemon-caper roasted potatoes! I made it last week and again today – it is so, so delicious.

    (And I quite like your solution, too.)

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