Monday, June 21, 2010

fresh rosemary focaccia

For those of you who are reading this post from Seattle, you're well aware of the fabulous October weather we've been experiencing. You would never know that it's actually June considering the onslaught of grey rainy days we've been having. Even as I sit here typing this post I am watching a downpour out my front window. It looks as though today's intended hike will have to wait....possibly until July.

There is an upside to this rainy weekend though - and that upside is focaccia. I've only played with making yeasted bread a few times. It's one of those things that seems like it should be easy, but can in fact prove to be challenging. Focaccia, I am happy to report, is not one of those breads. This recipe is quick - only 2 hours including rise time - and the results are delicious. I can attest to that. Once you have a loaf made the possibilities are endless. Saturday night I made sammies with oven roasted zucchini, mushrooms, red peppers and sweet vidalia onion sauce. (By the way, this onion sauce was so good that I gave it it's own post. Check it out!) Sunday morning, a breakfast sammie with tomato, sauteed mushrooms, sharp cheese and yummy sausage on toasted focaccia. I've started running again so I'm justifying this as carb loading for the upcoming week....or month maybe? Enjoy! -jz

fresh rosemary focaccia
makes 1 large loaf

1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, plus extra whole leaves for garnish
3 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 1/2 cups each all-purpose and whole wheat)
1 teaspoon salt
Olive oil for brushing
Coarse salt for garnish

Combine the yeast and warm water in a large bowl. Stir in the olive oil, chopped rosemary, salt and flour. Knead to form a soft dough. If the dough is sticky, work in a little extra flour, 1 teaspoon at a time. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 to 6 minutes, until smooth. Pour a little olive oil in the original bowl, add the kneaded dough and turn it a few times to coat the dough with oil. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise 1 hour or until a hole poked into the side of the risen dough fills up slowly.

Punch down the dough, return it to floured surface, and knead it a few times. Then, using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a large circle about 1 1/2 inches thick. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased cookie sheet. Poke several holes into the dough with a fork, sprinkle with coarse salt and rosemary leaves, and brush with a little olive oil. Cover again with dish towel and let rise for 20 more minutes.

While the dough is rising for the second time, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the bread is lightly browned and firm. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

Recipe taken from: Veganomicon

sweet vidalia onion sauce

I'm not really sure why this is deemed a sauce considering it never is really reduced to a typical "sauce" texture. Regardless of classification this stuff is pretty amazing. The recipe is taken from Veganomicon and is suggested to be eaten over portobello mushrooms or on veggie burgers. I would eat this sauce with pretty much anything or even on it's own, spread over a piece of fresh focaccia. It's sweet, it's oniony in just the right way - it's simply delicious.

If you've never caramelized onions before, be advised that you cannot rush the process. 20 minutes is no joke. Keep the heat low and keep an eye on them. While the onions should turn a lovely caramel color, they shouldn't crisp. I promise they will be worth the wait! Enjoy! -jz

sweet vidalia onion sauce
makes a little less than 2 cups

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large vidalia onions, quartered and sliced thinly (about 2 cups once sliced)
1/4 cup mirin or white wine*
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon white balsamic or red wine vinegar*
1 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
pinch of salt

* I used white wine and red wine vinegar 

Preheat a large, nonstick pan over medium - low heat. Saute the onions in the oil for about 20 minutes, turning often so they don't burn. If it looks like they are getting crisp, reduce the heat. They should be very soft and honey brown. Add the remaining ingredients and stir for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm until you're ready to serve.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

orzo soup

I literally just made a promise this week that I wouldn't post about soup again until September. Apparently I shouldn't make promises I know I can't keep.

This soup is just to good to keep quiet. I'm justifying the post by the fact that it's hardly "soup" in the traditional sense. Since it does have a broth base though, I suppose it has to keep it's name. It's a breeze to make and I've made no alterations to the original recipe as it appears on 101 Cookbooks. I typically cut the chard into "ribbons" to add some interesting texture. If you can get your hands on these fire roasted tomatoes, I whole heartedly recommend them. They have chilies which pack a little extra heat with the red pepper flakes. Also, for those of you who may want to default to chicken broth, this is a case where you need to stick to veggie broth. The flavor is well worth it. Have fun with the egg whites, they're my favorite part of the process! Enjoy! - jz

orzo soup
serves 4 to 6 (taken from 101 Cookbooks

7 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups whole wheat orzo (or other small pasta i.e. pastina)
2 cups chard or spinach, chopped
1 14-ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, well drained
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
good quality extra virgin olive oil
3 egg whites
fine grain sea salt
some grated Parmesan cheese (to finish)

Bring the broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the orzo and cook until just tender - about ten minutes. Stir in the chopped spinach;In the meantime, heat the tomatoes, red pepper flakes and a splash of extra virgin olive oil in a separate saucepan. Taste, and salt a bit if needed. Just before serving, slowly pour the egg whites into the soup, stirring quickly with a whisk. The whites should take on a raggy appearance. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve the soup in individual bowls, with each serving topped with a generous spoonful of tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, and dusting of cheese.

Monday, June 7, 2010

best ever pb&j sandwich

Being the "best ever" peanut butter and jelly sandwich sounds like a lot to live up to. I can remember many fabulous pb&j sandwiches at this very moment. This one however takes the cake, or maybe the bacon as it turns out. The inspiration for this sandwich came from a local downtown bakery here in Seattle. A bakery that uses at least a pound of butter in every cookie they make. The smell of these cookies alone has almost deterred from me going to work in the morning. This same bakery also makes a wide array of sandwiches, one of which led to the best ever pb&j. Peanut butter, cranberry blueberry spread, bananas, granny smith couldn't get much better. Enter bacon. Peanut butter and bacon are an obvious match, but with the apples and bananas, this combination borders on heavenly. It's the perfect blend of savory sweetness. Grab a napkin and a tall glass of milk - this sandwich needs both. Enjoy! - jz

best ever pb&j sandwich
makes 2 sandwiches (could serve 4)

4 slices thick cut bacon
4 slices fresh whole grain bread
8 tablespoons natural chunky peanut butter
4 teaspoons Crofter's Super Fruit Spread
1 small granny smith apple, thinly sliced
1 banana, cut lengthwise into strips

Cook bacon according to package directions. Set aside on paper napkins to cool and drain. Spread each slice of bread with two tablespoons of peanut butter then 1 teaspoon of fruit spread. Layer two pieces of bread with approximately half the sliced apples on each. Layer the remaining two pieces of bread with half the banana on each and then half the bacon. Carefully join together an apple side with a banana side. Give the whole sandwich a good "smash," cut into halves and serve.