Some of you know of my longstanding relationship with Ree Drummond, aka “Pioneer Woman”, aka “PW”, aka “P-Dub”. I loved her long before she had a cookbook to her name, and before she ever appeared on The Today Show, much less in her very own show on Food Network. Back in the day she was just a blogger who took great photos of her ranch in Oklahoma and of whatever she might have been cooking for dinner.
When I read in 2009 that she would be doing a book tour for her first cookbook, I suggested to my boss at the little independent bookstore where I worked that we might want to ask her to come by for a signing. My boss agreed, with the caveat that I had better drum up an audience if we were going to host an event for her. That proved to be not a problem, as her signing turned out to be one of the biggest events our little store had ever thrown. We sold more than a few of her books that evening, which stretched until close to midnight. I was kind of a rock star at the store for a few days after that.
The rest, of course, is history. Ree has published children’s books, a memoir, and several more cookbooks since that day she first visited us in Houston. She has done several more signings at the store, and always asks to have her picture taken with me when she stops by.
I am sorry to report that Ree and I have kind of gone our separate ways since last we met. Her style of cooking (for hungry cowboys and ranch hands) no longer meets my needs, and being a cattle rancher and all, she just doesn’t support my journey away from red meat. I guess we have grown apart. Sigh.
Despite our differences, there are still a few of Ree’s recipes that make frequent appearances at my table. One of those is a crusty herb bread that she calls “Pastor Ryan’s Herb Bread”. Everyone loves this bread. One year my daughter’s best friend asked for it for her birthday. Of course I made it for her, because who could deny such a sweet request?
This bread is super easy to make if you have a mixer with a dough hook. The parts come together in a jif, producing a ball of dough like this.
Left alone for an hour or two, it looks like this.
Finally, I rub the dough with olive oil (it loves that part), give it a liberal sprinkle of sea salt, score it with my chef’s knife, and pop it in a hot oven. It bakes in a heavy covered pot (enameled cast iron like Le Creuset is recommended), 30 minutes with the lid on and then 20 minutes uncovered.
And voila! This vision of deliciousness emerges from the oven.
The hardest thing about this bread is not eating the entire round while it is still hot, with sweet butter dripping off the crust. So good. The reward for not eating the whole thing is toasted herb bread for breakfast the next day. Hooray for self-restraint! Hooray for toast!
Monday night we ate it with this spicy pumpkin soup and called it a winner.
I do love making soup in the winter and pretending it’s cold outside. (Ha! Auto proofreader just wanted to place a hyphen between love and making. What a slut.)
Thanks, P-Dub. I still love ya.