Harvest Focaccia

February 8th, 2015

Harvest Focaccia 1

Known as Schiacciata con l’uva in Tuscany, this grape harvest focaccia is showcased in the windows of bakeries all over the region during the Fall harvest season.  According to Angelo Ciardella, a retired restauranteur and cooking teacher, “In Italy we don’t have Thanksgiving.  It’s the time of the grapes.”  The bread appears only during September when the uva fragola or concord grapes are ripe.  The focaccia is studded with the grapes, raisins, and walnuts and sprinkled with rosemary.  In the version I made, the grapes were layered in the bread dough so that they were more evenly distributed.  The top was also sprinkled with coriander seeds and turbinado sugar to bring out the sweetness of the grapes.

You may be wondering why I would be posting about this recipe in February instead of September.  The reason is that we will be in Tuscany during September this year during the harvest season . I found this recipe while doing research.  Planning a trip is satisfying on so many levels.  Researching the food of the regions where you will be staying is one of the sensory delights.  Another is finding interesting places to stay.

Tuscany Kitchen

This is the kitchen of one of the villas we are considering in a small village near Lucca and Florence.

Tuscany Fireplace

The villa also has a beautiful open fireplace.  We are still working out the details of our trip.  What fun it would be to stay here for a few days.

Harvest Focaccia 2V

Because I didn’t have access to concord grapes I used seedless red grapes.  The flavor is not as intense as it would be with the wine grapes, but we had no complaints about this delicious bread.  This Schiacciata (skee-ah-chah-tah) con l’uva was the closest I could come to the authentic bread experience.  It will be interesting to taste the real thing.  What I loved about this recipe is that it had a stick of butter in it.  It gave the focaccia an almost cake-like consistency.

Harvest Focaccia 3

Buon Appetito!

HARVEST FOCACCIA (Food Network Magazine)

2 1/4-ounce packets active dry yeast (1 1/2 tablespoons)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 cups (about 1 pound) seedless red grapes
2/3 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, cracked with a heavy pan
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Put 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water, the yeast, 1/2 cup olive oil and 1 tablespoon each turbinado sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.  Mix on medium speed until the yeast and sugar dissolve, then let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.  Add both flours and mix on medium speed to make a smooth but stick dough, about 4 minutes.

Poke the butter pieces into the dough, spacing them evenly apart. (Do not mix.)  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside in a wam place until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Mix the dough with the dough hook on low speed just until there are streaks of butter throughout, about 1 minute.  Put the grapes and raisins in a microwave-safe bowl, cover loosely and microwave until juicy, about 10 minutes.  Let cool, the strain through a sieve, discarding the liquid.

Brush a 10 x 15-inch rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Divide the dough in half and transfer one piece to the baking sheet, leaving the other in the bowl.  Cover both pieces of dough loosely with parchment paper; set aside until plump and airy, about 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Spread the dough on the baking sheet so it fills the pan, dimpling it with your fingertips.  Scatter half of the grape-raisin mixture evenly on top.  Put the remaining piece of dough on top and stretch and pat it to cover the bottom piece of dough. (Don’t worry if the dough tears.)  Scatter the walnuts and the remaining grape-raisin mixture on top. dimple the dough all over with your fingertips, poking the topping into the dough.  Cover loosely with parchment and set aside until the dough rises above the sides of the baking sheet by about 1/2-inch, 35 to 40 minutes.

Mix the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the coriander, rosemary, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper; sprinkle over the dough.  Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake 10 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. and bake until the focaccia is golden and springs back when pressed 20 to 30 minutes.  Brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil; let cool in the pan 15 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.  Can be served warm or at room temperature.  Warning:  Be careful not to eat the bread piping hot or you can burn your lips or mouth on a grape.  This came from personal experience. 

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Fraudulent Sourdough Bread

January 26th, 2015

Sourdough Bread 2

I am always inspired by fellow bloggers.  I sometimes wonder why we even bother with cookbooks when we have such talented people who blog about food on a regular basis.  Monique from La Table de Nana is one of those bloggers.  Among several recipes in one of her recent post, I was attracted to this round of crusty bread full of seeds.  She adapted the recipe from another blogger, Lady and the Pups.  The premise behind the sourdough bread is that you don’t need a sourdough starter.  The sour taste comes from the yogurt that is a part of the mixture.  It is so easy, especially if you kneed it in a stand mixer.  The only difficulty is time.  Time to let it ferment for 6 to 18 hours.  But you might as well just go about your business while the dough does its thing.  There is very little hands on work.

Staub Cookware

 

One of the reasons that I wanted to try this bread is because it is supposed to be baked in a heavy covered casserole.  I have been waiting to share this news with you.  I was fortunate to win a set of Staub Cookware from one of my favorite sites, the folks at Food52.  Food52 was founded by former New York Times food editor Amanda Hesser and food writer Merrill Stubbs.  The site offers home cooks everything from recipes to food related articles.  It has an active community of over 300,000 members.  They offer recipe contests in which I have participated.  So far 2 of my recipes have been selected as “Community Picks”.

With the publication of Mimi Thorisson’s cookbook My Kitchen in France, they held a contest offering a set of the beautiful French cookware from Staub.  All that was necessary to win was to leave a comment on their website each day of one week.  They gave away 4 sets.  I won one of them.  I was expecting, perhaps, some small individual cocottes, . . . maybe a small oval baker.  Much to my amazement, right before Christmas three large boxes were delivered.  I received a 5 quart round cocotte with lid, a 9.5 inch oval baker, and a 12 inch skillet (not shown here).  I told David I needed nothing more for Christmas.  Staub is amazing cookware, much like Le Creuset.  The matte black pieces are all featured in Mimi’s cookbook.  By the way, I also won one of her cookbooks.  Since I had already purchased mine, I gave this one to my talented daughter-in-law for Christmas.

Sourdough Bread 1

The bread baked in the casserole couldn’t have been better.  I’m sure any heavy duty casserole would do, but there is something satisfying about cooking in beautiful vessels.  I highly recommend this bread.  I love the cracked appearance of the loaf.  It is hard on the outside and soft inside, just as a good sourdough loaf should be.  You can make it without the sunflower and flax seeds as the original recipe suggests.  Monique even suggested that I try it that way first, but I loved this version.  Thank you for a great recipe Monique.

FRAUDULENT SOURDOUGH BREAD

  • 3 cups (405 grams) bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp (8 grams) salt
  • 1/4 tsp instant dry yeast (if fermenting for 18 hours), or 3/4 tsp instant dry yeast (if fermenting for 6 hours)
  • 1 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (385 grams) plain unsweetened yogurt containing active cultures
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, optional
  • 1/3 cup flax seeds, optional

Instructions

  1. In a stand-mixer with dough-hook, or in a large bowl by hands, mix bread flour, instant dry yeast, salt and plain yogurt, plus seeds if using, on medium-low speed for 2 min until a dough forms. If the dough is too dry and has difficulty coming together, add 1 tbsp more plain yogurt. If you’d like, continue to knead the dough on medium-low speed, or with your hands, for a few more minutes until springy. The dough should be very sticky, but able to retain shapes.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let ferment at room-temperature for 18 hours (NO MORE than 20 hours or the yogurt may spoil and become bitter!), or 6 hours depending on your schedule (note that the amount of yeast varies). The dough should almost doubled when finished.
  3. After fermentation, dust the counter with flour then transfer the dough on top. Use just enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking, fold the dough gently (without crushing all the air bubbles inside) over itself like folding a letter. Turn 90 degrees and fold again. Then shape the dough into a ball-shape. Transfer to a piece of floured parchment paper, then cover a large bowl on top and let proof again for 1 ~ 2 hours. The dough is ready when it almost double in size again, and should not spring back when you press it with a finger.
  4. 45 minutes before the dough’s ready, preheat the oven on 450F/225C with a large dutch oven, or a heavy-bottom pot (both should come with lid) inside. To bake the bread, lift the parchment paper to transfer the dough into the preheated pot, cover the lid and bake for 30 min. Then remove the lid, and bake until the crust is golden browned.
  5. Let cool on a rack for 20 min.

 

Printable Recipe

Parmesan Bread

October 20th, 2014

Parmesan Bread 1

Pain au Parmesan or Parmesan Bread is a recipe from Patricia Well’s The Paris Cookbook.  I picked up a copy of this book recently at an antique mall.  Even though it was written over a decade ago, the recipes are current and inviting.  I am a committed bread lover, so this recipe for Parmesan bread appealed to me immediately.  Patricia was inspired to adapt this bread recipe from the Boulangerie Onfroy in the Marais.  The bread is fine textured with a pungent Parmesan flavor.  It makes a great BLT.  I have also been enjoying it as toast with a tomato topping.

Parmesan Bread 2

But what is so wonderful about this Parmesan bread is that it easy.  It can be kneaded in a stand mixer and takes little hands on time.   Each slice of this fragrant bread brought me back to the beautiful boulangeries of Paris.

Boulangerie Onfroy

We have been in Florida celebrating our joint birthdays for the last week.  Here are a few pictures of the event.

Birthday Mimi and kids
I was so happy to have the grandkids with us.

Birthday Kristen and MichaelOur thanks to all of our friends and our wonderful family, including our Son Michael and DIL Kristen above, for a stellar celebration.  Aging can be a beautiful time of life.  Thank you Mark for the pictures that captured the event.

PARMESAN BREAD

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
3 3/4 cups ( 1 pound ) bread flour, or more if needed
3 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (3/4 cup)
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water, for egg wash

In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar, and lukewarm water, and stir to blend.  Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.  Then stir in the oil and the sea salt.

Add the 3 3/4 cups flour and the cheese all at once, and mix at medium speed until most of the flour has been absorbed and the dough forms a ball.  Continue to knead until the dough is soft and satiny but still firm, 4 to 5 minutes.  If necessary, add a little more flour to keep the dough from sticking.  Transfer the dough to a clean, floured work surface and knead by had for 1 minute.  The dough should be smooth and should spring back when indented with your fingertip.

Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.  Punch the dough down and shape it into a tight rectangle.  Place the dough in a nonstick 1-quart rectangular bread pan that has been buttered.  Cover it with a clean cloth and let it rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash.  With the tips of a pair of scissors, snip the top of the dough all over, about 15 times, to allow it to expand evenly during baking.  Place the bread pan on the bottom shelf of the oven.  Bake until firm and golden brown, and the bread sounds hollow when tapped, about 35 to 40 minutes.  Transfer the bread to a rack to cool.

Printable Recipe

 

Prosciutto Breakfast Rolls

August 21st, 2014

Prosciutto Breakfast Rolls 1

 

Do you occasionally buy convenience items like refrigerated crescent roll dough?  There are many things you can do with it besides rolling the triangles into crescent rolls.  I do like this take on a different way to handle crescent roll dough.  Instead of separating the dough into triangles stop at the rectangles, pat the seams closed and you have the perfect size for a slice of prepackaged prosciutto.  It fits like a glove.  Then all you have to do is roll it up and slice the log into two pieces.

Prosciutto Breakfast Rolls 2V

 

Viola!  An easy roll up for breakfast.  To guild the lily,  brush a mixture of grainy mustard and honey on the rolls before you bake them.  This made a great change from our usual Canadian bacon and English muffin breakfast.  Although homemade is best, an occasional easy option is nice to have on hand.

PROSCIUTTO BREAKFAST ROLLS ( Katie Brown )

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 (8-ounce) packages refrigerated crescent-roll dough
8 thin slices prosciutto

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons country-style or grainy Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray heavy large baking sheet with nonstick spray.  Open 1 package of rolls.  Unroll crescent dough and separate into 4 rectangles ( do not separate dough into triangles; press perforations together).  Top each dough rectangle with 1 slice prosciutto.  Starting at 1 long side, roll up dough rectangles jellyroll style.  Cut each crosswise in half.  Transfer to prepared baking sheet, seam side down.  Repeat with second package of crescent rolls. (Can be made 1 day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.)

Whisk honey and mustard in small bowl to blend.  Brush tops of rolls with honey mixture.  Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes.  Cool slightly.

Printable recipe

 

Souffleed Omelet with Canadian Bacon and Gruyere Cheese

May 28th, 2014

Souffleed Omelet 1

This is an easy breakfast dish and very impressive when it comes out of the oven.  Photographing it is another story as it deflates rather quickly.  But, when cut into and served, it is creamy and luscious.  I love the texture of the eggs and the bits of ham and herbs.

Souffleed Omelet 2V

I have so much basil this year that I am putting it in everything.  It holds its own with eggs.  But you could use other herbs.  This souffle is one of those dishes that is easily adaptable.  Substitute sausage or cooked vegetables for the Canadian bacon, parsley or tarragon for the basil, or cheddar cheese for the Gruyere topping.  It doesn’t matter.  The magic still happens and it comes out of the oven puffy and golden.  I liked this so much that I made it two Sundays in a row.

Souffleed Omelet 4

This time I used a combination of fresh tarragon and basil.  David wants to try it with sausage and cheddar next time.  But I am also thinking about that leftover zucchini and corn.  I am sure all of you could come up with some wonderful combinations.  This is a keeper.

SOUFFLEED OMELET WITH CANADIAN BACON AND GRUYERE CHEESE  (Adapted from Gourmet)

6 ounces sliced Canadian bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream or 1/2 and 1/2
3 tablespoons flour
8 large eggs, beaten lightly
1/3 cup minced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ounces freshly grated Gruyere cheese

In a flameproof 1 1/2 quart baking dish cook the bacon in the butter over moderately low heat for 5 minutes, or until it is golden, stir the mixture to coat the sides of the dish with the butter, and remove it from the heat.  In a bowl whisk together the cream the flour, the eggs, the basil and the salt and pour the mixture into the dish.  Sprinkle the mixture with the Gruyere cheese and bake it in a preheated 450 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the omelet is puffed and golden.  Serves 4 to 6.

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.