Friday, January 2, 2009

Snow Day Focaccia

On New Year's Eve Erin and I had plans to rendevuex at the library and have a "business meeting" about the details of the night (specifically, what we were cooking for dinner, and what we were drinking afterward). Immediately upon walking into the library the librarian told me they were closing in 5 minutes, due to the snow storm. I made a mad dash downstairs to the cooking section and grabbed 5 books and ran home with them. Erin and I met at my house instead, complete with fire and tea. (*Token Finn shot, snuggled up, braving the elements in his down igloo...)

Anyway, I've now been snowed in with these books for a few days so I tried out some of the recipes. This one is from Jamie Oliver's The Naked Chef, well the bread recipe is, and I just made the vegetable topping with what we had in the house. He calls this Focaccia in the book but ours turned out much puffier and larger (almost swelled to the size of the kitchen) then traditional focaccia (and the pictures in his book). The recipe calls for half semolina flour (the store here didn't have) so maybe my substitute of all-purpose made the puffy difference?? In any case, it was really good (really in past tense because it is already gone...that's what happens when you're snowed in). This is a long and involved process but fun if you, say, have 72 hours snowed in on an island on your hands....

1 oz fresh yeast or 3/4 oz active dried yeast
2 tablespoons honey
just over 2 cups tepid water
just over 1 lb bread flour (31/2 to 4 cups)
just over 1 lb semolina flour
2 tablespoons salt
some extra flour and semolina for dusting

Stage 1: Dissolve the yeast and honey in half the tepid water.
Stage 2: On your largest available clean surface, make a pile of the flour, semolina flour and salt. With one hand, make a well in the center.
Stage 3: Pour all the dissolved yeast mixture into the well and with four fingers of one hand make circular movements, from the center working outward, slowly bringing in more and more of the dry ingredients until all the yeast mixture is soaked up. Then pour the other half of the tepid water into the center and gradually incorporate all the flour to make a moist dough. (Add more water if needed)
Stage 4: Kneading! This is the best bit (Jamie Oliver talk), just rolling, pushing and folding the dough over and over for 5 minutes.
Stage 5: Make dough into a roundish shape and place on a baking tray. Score the dough with a knife - this allows it to relax and proof (rise) more quickly. Place the dough somewhere warm to rise.
Stage 6: Leave the bread to rise - double in size - you can cover with plastic wrap if you want to speed it up. This should take 40 minutes to an hour and a half.
Stage 7: After it has risen, punch it down, knocking all the air out of it, for about a minute.
Stage 8: Split the dough in half. Roll half into an oval shape about 1/2 inch thick.

(Do something else with the other I write this Nick is making twisty rolls with roasted garlic out of the second half.) Place on a baking tray dusted with semolina. Smear with topping (below). Once the topping in on, make the special "focaccia holes" by pushing your finger through the dough many times. Leave sitting for 45 mintues, as the dough rises to about 1 1/2 inches high.

Stage 9: Bake for 15 minutes in a 475 degree oven. When it comes out, drizzle with olive oil and sea salt.

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups baby bella mushrooms, washed and thiny sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
red pepper flakes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

Coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and saute the onions until soft and brown, about 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute together for 5 more. Add the garlic and cook for a couple minutes (so garlic doesn't burn). Salt.

Spread topping onto dough and push the tomato sliced into the dough. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

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