Thursday, January 17, 2008

Susan: Cozy Breads For Cold Winter Days Recipe Roundup On FoodieView & Focaccia, My New Favorite Flatbread

My First Foray Into Focaccia

Up until the other day, I'd never made focaccia. When I decided to test my friend Stephen's
Quick Rosemary Focaccia recipe for an article I was working on, I realized that not only had I never made focaccia, but I'd never even eaten it. I know, I know, where have I been? I have no idea. Probably too busy eating pizza. You know I love homemade pizza. What I know is that after devouring large hunks of this rosemary focaccia for three meals in a row (yes, I ate it for breakfast, and no, I didn't have it with my meals, it was my meals), I am ready to embark on a focaccia making rampage.

Stephen warned me that focaccia purists may scoff at his crowd-pleasing, quick and easy version which is mixed in the food processor* and shaves hours off the traditional resting times, but I couldn't stop eating it. Warm from the oven, at room temperature the next day, or reheated in my
beloved little toaster/convection oven - this stuff is good.** It also freezes beautifully. And the smell of the rosemary-infused dough that permeated every nook and cranny of The Shack while it was rising was wonderful. I'm pretty sure I followed Stephen's recipe exactly, except I scattered a few handfuls of pecorino romano over the focaccias along with the rest of the rosemary just before baking. I also skipped the egg wash. Next time I'll try using only half the amount of yeast.

Apparently there are all sorts of ways to enjoy focaccia - not to mention all sorts of toppings you can put on it before baking. But so far I have yet to get past splitting a warm hunk in half and tucking in a couple of slices of Irish Shannon, my new favorite cheese.

As soon as I find some nice organic grapes I plan to try the focaccia recipe in Local Breads, my new favorite bread book by my favorite bread baker, Daniel Leader. Kevin made it last year when we each chose a different straight dough Italian bread from Local Breads and said it was the best focaccia he's ever tasted. I already have my eye on a couple of other interesting focaccia recipes in some of my other cookbooks as well, and one of these days I'll have to take the time to make a truly traditional version, such as this one by Dan Lepard, as demonstrated by Fanny on Foodbeam.

quick rosemary focaccia is just one of the recipes included in my Cozy Breads For Cold Winter Days article for the Recipe Roundup, a new weekly feature written by various food bloggers on FoodieView. I tried to offer something for everyone, from tasty quick breads that are ready in under an hour to impressive yeast breads that are perfect for beginners. Many of you will recognize some of my own favorite bread recipes. You'll find all of the FoodieView Recipe Roundups here, and you can subscribe to them via e-mail here.

FoodieView is a neat site run by some really nice foodies that makes "good food easy to find, whether you're dining in or dining out." Check out the restaurant guides for nine major cities (more will be added) or search through over 1 million recipes from places like Cooking Light, Eating Well, Gourmet/Bon Appetit, Fine Cooking, Food Network, Sunset, and Saveur. The neatest part about the FoodieView search engine is that you can narrow down your search criteria by ingredient, dish, cuisine, special considerations (gluten free, low carb, vegetarian, etc.), sources, and more, including famous chefs.

As for me, I'm off to check out
Michael Chiarello's Country Focaccia With Blue Cheese & Lavender Honey recipe, see if I can locate a source for organic semolina flour so I can try making Jamie Oliver's favorite focaccia, and work my way through some of the other 4,793 hits my FoodieView search for 'focaccia recipe' came up with.

Are you a focaccia fan? I'd love to hear about your favorite recipes and ways you like to eat it. I'm already drooling over the thought of focaccia sandwiches piled high with slices of juicy heirloom tomatoes from
next summer's garden. (It's gonna be a long six months waiting for them.) Beth tormented me the other night with a description of the dinner she'd just made: lamb burgers with blue cheese and shallots on homemade focaccia. Yum.

Stephen's Quick Rosemary Focaccia Ready For The Oven

Move over
pizza. There's a new flatbread on the farm.

* A word of warning: This is a soft and sticky dough, especially if you haven't added quite enough flour to it. Do NOT reach into the food processor bowl and try to grab the finished blob of dough with your bare hands while the blade is still buried in it. Yeah, ouch. Not that I think you would ever do anything that stupid.

** A technical note about Stephen's recipe: It makes two 8" - 10" round focaccias. I didn't realize until they were ready to go into the oven that there was no way they were both going to fit on my baking stone at once. Fortunately it's winter, so I just popped one into the oven and set the other out on one of the chest freezers on the covered porch next to the kitchen, protected by a large upside down bowl since
Smudge the cat (who lives on the porch) was very interested in it. If it had been summer things would have been a little tricker, as I don't usually have enough space for an entire unbaked focaccia in my fridge. If both won't fit in your oven at once and you don't have a cool spot to put the second one while the first one bakes, you might want to halve the recipe.

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