Thursday, June 23, 2011

Two Ways to get down with Focaccia

I've always been sort of enamored with Focaccia bread. The kind of infatuation I feel when I look at a picture of Chris O'Donnell. Yeah, he's got that cute boy next door thing that I find irresistible. I fantasize that one day he'll call me up and want to take me out.

It's always been this just out of reach kind of love. Like my high school crush who never knew I was alive. Probably still doesn't.
But that's beside the point. The real point is that I was tired of this useless longing. Even though it's finally like 90 degrees here, I wanted to get my hands dirty, turn on the oven, and french kiss this thing. Full mouth to bread crumbs

I found a few great recipes and 'hot messed' them a bit and started mixing, kneading, and laughing.
Next thing I know the bread is rising. I'm smiling while I press olives and pepperoni in the skin of the bread and within a few short hours this longing turns to satisfaction.

With the bread fresh out of the oven I can't help but take one big bite. Just to make sure it's real and as yummy as I remember.
Unlike high school reunions where the crush may have put on a few pounds and be less than you fantasized, this focaccia is just what I dreamed about.
I can't tell you if I like the Green Olive and Rosemary better or the Pepperoni and Sun-dried Tomato Focaccia. It would be like choosing your favorite child... I just can't do it.

Then I sliced it and the sky was the limit!
I started by making  a Ham and Cheese Panini. My honey would call it a grilled cheese, but I prefer the chef-y sounding word. It was delicious! 

All you do is spray a skillet heated to medium. Add the focaccia yummy side in and them place a few slices of ham and cheese. Then top with another slice of focaccia (yummy side in again). Here's where the panini comes in. Take a cookie sheet and place it on top of the sandwich then take something really heavy, a brick, cast iron skillet, heavy cook book, whatevs and smash the whole sandwich down. I mean really really smoosh it.

Cook on both sides for about 5 minutes or until cheese gets ooey gooey! Then eat it!
Or you can just make a regular old Mozzarella and Turkey Sandwich... oh so yummy. The bread was hearty and the cheese and turkey were the perfect middle!

Whatever you decide to do with the Focaccia bread you won't be disappointed.

Let's get started with the basics...

Basic Focaccia Dough
**Note: This makes two focaccia loaves.

1/2 tsp. Powdered Sugar
2 tsp. Dried Yeast (1 package)
4 cups All Purpose Flour
4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 tsp. Salt
3 tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Cups Lukewarm Water

1. Combine the powdered sugar and yeast. Add 1/4 cup warm water. Stir together with a fork to combine and allow to sit until it bubbles and foams.
2. In a large bowl, mix the flours and salt. Stir together to combine. Then add the olive oil, yeast mixture, and 2 cups of the warm water. Stir with a wooden spatula to combine. Then slowly add the remaining cup until the stiff dough forms. It will be drier, but that is perfect.
3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-8 minutes. The dough will be smooth and well combined and when you make an impression with your finger the dough should spring back immediately.
4. Place a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of a large metal bowl and place the dough into the bowl turning it to coat the outside with olive oil. Gently cut an "X" in the top of the dough so it can stretch without breaking. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel and place in a warm place to rise for one hour.
5. After one hour, punch the dough down to it's original size and cut the dough in half making two even balls of dough. Gently stretch the dough into a 11 X 8 rectangle using the palms of your hands and lifting and stretching the dough where needed. 
6. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Then lay each dough rectangle on it's own cookie sheet. Place plastic wrap and a towel over and place back in the warm spot to rise for another 2 hours. Check the dough after an hour and half to see if it's doubled in size. We don't want to over-rise the dough!

7. Preheat the oven to 425... now we are ready to choose which kind of focaccia would make your heart sing today!

Green Olive and Rosemary Focaccia
1 Foccacia dough (recipe above)
1/2 cup Green Olives
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 tbsp. Rosemary
1 tsp. Salt
1. With oven preheated to 425, place the olives whole evenly on the top of the focaccia pressing down lightly to sink the olives within the dough. Brush the olive oil gently over the surface of the dough.  Then sprinkle the dough with the rosemary and salt. 

2. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes!
3. Slice and serve alongside your favorite salad or slice it thin for a delicious sandwich!
Servings: 18

Nutritional Skinny:

118.6 calories / 2 g fat / 21.4 g carbohydrates / 2 g fiber / 3.6 g protein

Pepperoni and Sun-dried Tomato Basil Focaccia
1 Foccacia Dough (recipe above)
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
1/8 cup Pepperoni; sliced thin
1/8 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes
1 tbsp. Basil Leaves (fresh or dried)
1 tsp. Salt
1. With oven preheated to 425, mince the pepperoni and sundried tomatoes.
2. Lightly brush the olive oil over the top of the focaccia dough and sprinkle over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the basil and salt over the top. 

3. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
4. Slice and serve! Delicious as a sandwich with mozzarella cheese and fresh tomatoes inside!

Servings: 18

Nutritional Skinny:

122 calories / 2.2 g fat / 21.4 g carbohydrates / 2 g fiber / 4 g protein

Mental Health Tid Bit: Okay, this is not about how healthy it is. This is about the right to brag that you made HOMEMADE FOCACCIA! Yeah, you can bring this to your best friends house and brag that you did this all by yourself from SCRATCH! Now I think that's worth something.. don't you? Bon Apetit!

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