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Mezza Memory - Garlic Knots

“Mezza” in Italian means “half,” which is where my memory capacity sits, at least some days. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to remember the name of an Italian Cafe in Milltown near Total Wine. I think it was Cafe Rosauri but it doesn’t sound quite right. If any of you remember, please end my agony.

We used to go to the Cafe for some wonderful Italian dishes - Pasta Carbonara, Bucatini Bolognese, lasagna and lobster ravioli. But for me, the best thing there was the garlic rolls. I’ve mentioned before my love for garlic, and my love for these knew no bounds (unfortunately).

These are not exactly the same, but pretty darned close.


INGREDIENTS

1 and 1/3 cups warm water (between 100-110°F)

2 and 1/4 teaspoons Yeast (1 standard packet)

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons olive oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for hands and work surface


Topping

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 bulb garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning

1/4 teaspoon salt

optional after baking: 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or basil


METHOD

Whisk the warm water, yeast, and granulated sugar together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or paddle attachment. Cover and allow to rest for 5 minutes. *If you don’t have a stand mixer, simply use a large mixing bowl and mix the dough with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula in the next step.

Add the olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and half of the flour. Beat for 15 seconds, then add the remaining flour. Beat on low speed for 2 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands, knead the dough for 3-4 minutes. The dough can be a little too heavy for a mixer to knead it, but you can certainly use the mixer on low speed instead. After kneading, the dough should still feel a little soft. Poke it with your finger – if it slowly bounces back, your dough is ready to rise. If not, keep kneading.

Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or nonstick spray– just use the same bowl you used for the dough. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 1-2 hours or until double in size.

(Tip: For a warm environment on a particularly cold day, heat your oven to 150°F. Turn the oven off, place the dough inside, and keep the door slightly ajar. This will be a warm environment for your dough to rise. After about 30 minutes, close the oven door to trap the air inside with the rising dough. When it’s doubled in size, remove from the oven.)

Shape the dough. When the dough is ready, punch it down to release the air.

Using floured hands on a lightly floured work surface, shape the dough into a 16×5 inch log. (5 inch width really isn’t as important as the 16 inch length here, no need to be exact.)

Using a very sharp knife, pizza cutter, or bench scraper, slice into 16 1-inch strips. Roll each strip into 8 inch ropes.

Tie each into knots or pinwheels. You can tuck the two ends of the knots underneath the knot or leave them out, that’s up to you.

Arrange the knots on 2 lined baking sheets. (Either parchment paper or silicone baking mats work.)

Lightly cover the shaped knots and let them rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 45 minutes. They will slightly puff up during this time, producing softer rolls.

Towards the end of the rise time, preheat oven to 400.

Topping: Stir the melted butter, garlic, Italian seasoning, and salt together. Brush on the knots. Reserve some of the topping for when the knots come out of the oven.

Bake for about 20-23 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and brush the warm knots with remaining garlic butter. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and/or parsley, if you are using.

Serve plain or with marinara sauce for dipping.

Cover and store leftover knots at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Not long ago, the Today Show reported that recent research showed that red wine, when consumed responsibly, seemed to be protective against deteriorating memory and other thinking skills.

So while I’d prefer Prosecco or an acidic Reisling with these rolls, I guess I’d better start working on that mezza memory. So a Pinot Noir is open.

Food.tv says that mixing red wine with garlic also promotes weight loss.

Good thing, after all those rolls.




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