Sunday, April 14, 2013

Grape Focaccia, Gorgonzola Popped-Over Popovers and Snow

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.


Ciao Chow Linda said...

Oh my - you really had me laughing with Luce. I love your writing style Claudia. The grape focaccia is something I've always wanted to make. I know I'd love it and yours looks particularly enticing. Don't worry about the popovers deflating - they're supposed to do that. As long as they taste good, that's all that counts. Now let's hope February 74, 2013 doesn't happen. You've had too long a winter already.

Claudia said...

Thanks, Linda. You just made me smile!

Beth said...

February 73 - perfect! It's still cold here, but at least the snow is gone. Thanks to Luce for making my day.

Barbara F. said...

Ah Claudia, I see you found some Tuscan foccacia in the middle of snow and sleet. It has to warm up there soon, it's mid April!! I love popovers, I have never tried them with blue cheese. There is something so comforting about baking bread, isn't there? xo

Whats Cookin Italian Style Cuisine said...

how funny, when I lived in New York I baked breads and comfort foods like these. how I miss that motivation. I would love some of popovers rigjt now. nice photos my friend

Catherine said...

Dear Claudia, Well, if the weather outside is snowing and snowing. I say that the best thing to do is bake something delicious like these wonderful treats. Blessings dear. Catherine xo

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Ah, that Luce has good taste! He must have been Italian in a past life, don't you think?

I love the sound and looks of Grape Focaccia Bread! That would definitely bring heat to a cold spring evening. The blue cheese opo overs also look ooey gooey good! I have a big block of blue cheese in my refrigerator ..I will ave to make these.

We had warm weather all week -- the 12 inches of snow we had last tuesday was all gone by thursday, but we may get some snow showers tomorrow. This is a winter that doesn't want to quit! Colorado needs all the mositure it can get so they love late spring snow here. As long as it melts away ina day or two I can't complain. Hope youe spring warms up soon!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I would be having a melt down too if I were you. Will spring ever get there.

We've made the little popovers from WS several times and they are always delicious and disappear very quickly. Mine don't always pop perfectly, but I think it depends on how big the holes are in the small popover pans. Some seem to be larger (or smaller) than others in certain brands.

Stay warm and enjoy Luce. He sounds like a breath of springtime to me.

Kathy said...

Your grape focaccia looks so yummy…I love the double crust…intriguing!
I really feel for all you Minnesotans and your never-ending winter! It’s just so wrong…it’s April for gosh sakes!
Love your naughty cat..Luce! Think Spring, Claudia!!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Glad to know Luce is upholding his reputation as a kitchen terror! But how can you get mad at a cute little fellow like that? ;-) Both recipes look quite nice, but unlike Luce, I'm a bit more drawn to the grape Focaccia - this looks so good (the popovers do, too, but the focaccia really speaks to me). Really nice - thanks. And I hope the warm weather arrives soon!

Gloria Baker said...

I love focaccia and this look amazing!!
and Luce is a really special cat with good taste:)
the popovers look amazing too!

ChgoJohn said...

I've seen other recipes for grape focaccia-like breads and wondered about them. None used 2 layers of dough like yours does and I bet yours is better. It certainly gives a better distribution of the grapes. And I hope some of the grape juice seeps! :)
Those gorgonzola popovers sound delicious and if your Luce were to join forces with my Max, we'd never get a bite to eat.

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Luce is a little dickens! I'm sorry for your stinky weather...I know we'll be back near freezing on Saturday, but at least no snow in the forecast. All your cooking looks fantastic...but I really want one of your Gorgonzola popovers...swooning....

That Girl said...

Chocolate and cheese for dinner sounds so decadent!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Delicious! Grape focaccia is something I really have to try making. Lovely popovers too. A delightful speciality.



Frank said...

Hmmm... I'm intrigued by the use of thyme in this sweet dish. How did you like it?

Sorry to hear about the weather. I'm sure that spring will arrive soon.

Claudia said...

I'm actually partial to a little thyme in sweet things - especially ice cream and muffins! Didn't
t use a heavy-hand and it mainly gave the bread a lovely aroma.

Juliana said...

Claudia, your grape focaccia looks fabulous...I love how add thyme...and cold? I do not well in cold weather...I would have a eternal meltdown.
I hope the weather gets warm...and soon.
Enjoy your week and yes, chocolate for dinner :)

Reeni said...

He reminds me so much of my Moon! Dragging stuff off the table when your back is turned like a little starving piglet. Those popovers are calling my name loud and clear! I've heard only great things about grape focaccia - I don't know what the heck I'm waiting for. I hope spring shows its face for you soon!

Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina said...

I think that everyone deserves a 'little wine with their snow' as you mentioned Claudia, especially in a Midwestern winter that doesn't want to end! Love the focaccia and man, those gorgonzola popovers are awesome, who cares if there deflated! Hope it warms up soon for you!

QembarDelites said...

What a sneaky cat you have lol! well, if you leave caviar around, I would be cat too! That's a lovely focaccia and I like the fact that it is filled!

Gina said...

I don't blame Luce for getting in the caviar, obviously he has good taste. Still snow, yikes. Wish I could wish Spring there for you. If I lived in a snowing climate, I'd bake bread everyday too. Although that would be a love-hate thing (for the waist). Love the grapes thrown in the bread.


I hope the warm weather will arrive soon. ALthough it hasn't been that "springy" here in STL, I would like to send some sunshine :) to cheer you up. But the scent from your baking focaccia and popovers will definitely bring smiles and comfort even with the sleet and snow around you... take care!

Angie's Recipes said...

Meow..Luce, you are so clever.
Both focaccia and popover are great, either with a warming soup or a salad. Yum!

Joanne said...

I'm definitely tired of the cold weather but with comfort food like this, it's not SO bad. Love the sound of this focaccia!

Anonymous said...

I had grape focaccia at a vineyard in Tuscany. It was terrific but the grapes were fun of seeds so it took some of the pleasure out of eating it.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Have a lovely weekend!