I've been cooking. A lot. But Saturday when I woke up to a fresh coat of snow and sleet for the 8th day in a row and realized the date in Minnesota was February 73, 2013, I went on strike. Well, I had a meltdown - because Minnesota isn't melting down any time soon.
"I'm having chocolate for dinner," I announced. And did. Of course I had something else with it. I also had Camembert.
This Grape Focaccia Bread is billed as a flatbread. It's more a combination of cracker bread on the outside and a flatbread texture in the middle. It's meant to be eaten as a snack as opposed to a side for a dinner. It's actually said to be a taste-treat made up for those who harvested the grapes for wine. I will attest - it's a fine snack for the spring-less soul. And for those who crave a little wine with their snow.
What I did love - was the hint of sweetness without it being sweet (I'll save my sweet tooth for chocolate dinners, thank-you.) I also liked that it was easy. I have a short fuse these days and am not above throwing dough against walls if it frustrates me.
Focaccia with Grapes (Schiacciata con L'uva) - 1 large flatbread; about 24 servings
(The recipe is from Epicurious
- I changed a little and will let you know along the way)
1 package active dry yeast (or 2-1/2 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons Chianti or another dry red wine
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
2-1/2 -3 cups Italian "oo" flour or a half-and-half mixture of all purpose flour with cake flour
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3-1/2 cups Concord or champagne grapes (I used a little less of regular globe red grapes because I had them and it was snowing and I wasn't going out and the stores don't have the other grapes now anyway - yes the juice in the grapes will seep. So what? If using grapes with pits, don't pit. Warn your guests. (I'd still pit - yes, the juice would seep, etc.)
1/2 cup sugar (I used 1/4 cup)
I also sprinkled with dried thyme and if it wasn't snowing, I would have gotten fresh thyme
Stir together yeast, wine, honey and water until yeast is dissolved.*
*I stirred together the wine, honey and water and sprinkled the yeast on top - not having the yeast touch the honey until later. Let sit for ten minutes while the yeast becomes bubbly (about ten minutes). Then, stir in 1 cup of the flour and mix. Mixture will be lumpy. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel and let sit in a warm corner until doubled in size (about 50 minutes) and - in retrospect - I should have oiled the bowl a bit.)
Add oil, flour and salt and stir until a sticky dough forms. Put it out on a lightly-floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes until shiny and elastic. You can add up to an extra 1/2 cup of flour if dough is too wet. Put in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and dish towel and let sit until doubled in size - about an hour
Oil a baking pan (about 10x15x1 inch).
Turn out dough on work surface and and knead gently to reduce the air in the dough. Divide dough in half and roll out first half into a rectangle (about 10x15 inches to fit the pan - don't go nuts measuring - just stretch it as best you can. This is rustic.). Put in prepared pan.
Scatter half the grapes over the dough (gently press grapes into the dough) and then half the sugar over the grapes. (Again, I did not use 1/2 cup sugar and what I did do was mix the sugar in with grapes and then scattered them.) I then scattered some dried thyme.
Repeat. Lay the second dough over the first dough - stretching as much as possible to make the rectangles even. Scatter your grapes and sugar. Press grapes gently. Add a little thyme. Cover and let rise in a warm area until doubled in bulk - about an hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Bake 40-50 minutes - until the bread is well-browned and the middle is firm. Cool a bit. Slide off pan and cut into squares. Can be eaten warm or at room temperature.
The edges were more like a cracker bread and the inside was a lovely soft dough. I love the oozing of the grape juice. A little wine-spill on your bread! My two doughs did meld together for 3/4 of the bread - but in the last 1/4 - it seemed to be 2 separately cooked doughs on top of each other. But the dough had a mellow sweetness and the grapes gave bursts of wine-sugar that was most satisfying. Especially when it is sleeting.
And from Williams-Sonoma - a tiny taste treat. My sister made this during today's daily sleet. After this week, don't be surprised if you see us on street corners trying to give away baked goods.
Tiny Gorgonzola Popovers
- makes 24
(they popped and went over - but everyone ate them - including Luce - don't write me letters - he's a fast, dexterous little fellow Think of a squirrel with a nut - that's Luce with a popover.)
Vegetable oil, for brushing
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon Italian parsley - minced (go for broke and use more - other herbs such as chives and thyme would also work)
1-1/4 cups milk at room temperature
2 eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
3 ounces Gorgonzola or other crumbly strong blue cheese - crumbled (use more).
Preheat oven to 450 Degrees F. Generously brush (really generously) 2 12-cup, non-stick mini muffin tins or popover tins.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, salt, white pepper and parsley. In a large measuring pitcher, whisk together, milk, eggs and melted butter. Pour wet ingredients into dry and whisk together till just combined (may be a bit lumpy). Pour batter (or spoon it) into popover/muffin tin - leaving a 1/4 inch rim (so about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the batter in each). Put a scant teaspoon of the crumbled Gorgonzola into the middle of each of the filled tins (go for broke and use more). Bake for ten minutes (do not open door!). Lower oven temp to 350 degrees F and bake until browned, a wee bit crusty and puffed - about 8-10 minutes longer. Remove from oven, transfer popovers to a napkin lined-bowl. Serve at once or let cool on wire racks and serve at room temperature. Or - let sit on cooling racks for up to 2 hours and reheat in a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes.
They did deflate immediately - which we are trying to rectify - did we take them out too soon? No matter - they are a savory, creamy addition to a Sleety-Snowy-Sunday. We ate six each before anyone came home. No regrets. And no one knew exactly how many we made...
While Luce has proven himself to be an adept food thief - he does try to help with the dishes.
And then when your back is turned -
He's in the caviar.
But that's another blog post.