Four Star Focaccia

I would give it 5 stars, but I am well known for being humble ….

hot focaccia with fresh rosemary, carmelized red onions, garlic slices - topped with maldon sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

hot focaccia with fresh rosemary, carmelized red onions, garlic slices – topped with maldon sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

2 tsp rapid rising dry yeast

1 cup warm water

2 tbsp sugar

3 1/2 cups flour

1 tbsp coarse salt

1/4 cup olive oil

This recipe is designed for a standing mixer – but you can easily adapt it to do by hand.

Warm the bowl of your standing mixer by letting it sit filled with warm water for a few minutes.  Drain, put in the 1 cup warm water, add 2 tbsp sugar, stir well and add in the yeast.  Give a light stir and let sit for at least 3 minutes, until you see the yeast starting to foam.  Turn on the stand mixer – low setting, and dissolve the salt in a cup with 2 tbsp hot water – when dissolved add to yeast mixture with the olive oil.  Gradually – in a steady but slow stream – add the flour.  Start with 3 1/2 cups of flour, and add a wee bit more if it is too sticky.  Once the dough is holding together, turn the mixer up to medium and allow it to knead for 10 minutes.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and hand knead it a few times, until you have a smooth, soft, pliable dough.  Grease a bowl lightly, turn the dough to coat and allow to rise in a warm place – covered with a damp tea towel or saran.  When it has doubled in size (aprox 45 minutes) turn onto a clean surface and stretch it lightly to be about 1/2 in thick and an oblong shape.  Allow to rest for a few minutes, and then put that on to an oiled baking sheet (I like clay).  Cover with saran and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Give the dough a gentle massage with good quality olive oil, and with your fingertips gently press indentations in the surface, then cover with seasonings to complement the rest of your meal:

fresh rosemary

sliced garlicP1100268

carmelized red onions

fresh herbs

parmesan cheese

Then sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and large flake salt.

 

For this batch I doubled the recipe, and stretched it to be about 3/4-1 inch high before allowing it to rest. 

Bake at 400 for around 15-20 minutes.

This makes the best focaccia I have ever had – the dough is a fantastic texture, and gets so nice and crispy on the outside with the olive oil coating.  Use your imagination with toppings, and it will soon be a hit in your house too.  So easy to make!

Mac N Cheese

I have been making lasagne without pre boiling my pasta noodles for years now, so why did it take so long to try it with elbow macaroni?  Not sure, but I will always do it that way now!  Give this a try and let me know what you think.  

Mac n Cheese

1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided

1/4 cup flour

3 cups milk

1 tbsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 lb (450 gms) elbow macaroni

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup panko or home made bread crumbs

2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400.  Melt 1/4 cup butter in large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add flour, and mustard,  cook, whisking constantly for 1 minute to allow the flour and butter to brown slightly.  Slowly whisk in milk until you have a smooth consistency.  Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, whisking often until you have a thin but glossy sauce. (around 10 min)  Stir in 1 tbsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper.

Toss dry, uncooked pasta with 1 1/2 cups grated cheese and put in 13 x 9 x 2″ baking dish.  Pour sauce over – do not stir – and cover with foil.  Bake for at least 20 minutes – check to see if the pasta is almost cooked through.

Melt 1/4 cup butter in fry pan, stir in garlic – saute lightly and toss with bread crumbs and panko until lightly browned.

Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over pasta, then top with bread crumb/garlic mixture.  Return to the oven for another 10 minutes or so until top is bubbling and golden brown.

This is the basic recipe – I’m pretty sure you won’t be pre-cooking your pasta before baking your own mac and cheese again!

Tonight’s version of this included:

aged white cheddar cheese and smoked gouda cheese

cubed cooked chicken

diced roasted red pepper

capers

whole grape tomatoes

The whole family loved it, and you can adapt this very easily to any leftovers or cravings in your household.