Friday, June 29, 2012

Rosemary Focaccia

This month's What's Baking theme was "Baking with Fresh Herbs".  I considered making a dessert, something with mint, perhaps?  But then I went out to dinner with my husband a few weeks back and in the bread basket was delicious focaccia.  Immediately the wheels started turning in my head and I realized I had found my June dish.  I looked through my many cookbooks and found a recipe for Rosemary Focaccia in How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.  Sounded perfect to me!

I made this on a Sunday evening.  I came home from a day out and about, made the dough, then let it rest while I went grocery shopping.  Came back, continued to make it.  When stretching to dough it does have to rest several times for a couple minutes at a time, so I would have to go back into the kitchen every few minutes, so you can't get too caught up in doing something else during that time (I was catching up on So You think You Can Dance, so I just paused the DVR, therefore going back and forth was fine by me).  In all, I think it ended up taking about 4 1/2 hour from start to finish.

What's great about focaccia is that you can really top it with anything you want.  Because this was my first time making it, I was unsure of what we'd like on it.  I put a little bit of onion on, then I wanted to do thin slices of tomato, but the only one we had in our fridge had just gone bad, so I used some slices of grape tomato instead.  I also threw on a few sliced kalamata olives.  I definitely held back in my toppings, so next time I'll be a little more generous.  I also had bought some fresh oregano to put on it, but forgot to include it before I started baking, so I threw a little on when it first came out of the oven.  It didn't bake into the dough, obviously, but still gave off a nice flavor.

Dough (excerpt from Pizza Dough recipe by Mark Bittman)

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt or sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

- Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a food processor.  Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water and the oil through the feed tube.
- Process for about 30 seconds, adding more water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch.  If it is still dry, add another tablespoon or two of water and process for another 10 seconds (in the unlikely event that the mixture is too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time)
- Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for a few seconds to form a smooth, round dough ball.  Put the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let rise until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours.

Rosemary Focaccia (by Mark Bittman)

1 recipe Pizza Dough, mixed and risen (steps 1-3, listed above)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus more to taste
Coarse kosher or sea salt
Other toppings of your liking

- Lightly knead the dough, form it into a ball, and put it on a lightly floured surface.  Sprinkle with a little more flour, cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let it rest for 20 minutes.
- Use 1 tablespoon of the oil to grease an 11x17in jelly roll pan.  Press the dough into a small rectangle and put it in the pan; let it relax there for a few minutes.  Press and stretch the dough to the edges of the pan.  If it resists, let it rest for a few minutes, then stretch it some more.  Sometimes this takes a while, because the dough is so elastic.  Don't fight it; just stretch, rest, then stretch again.  Try not to tear the dough.  Cover the dough and let it rise for at least 30 min or until somewhat puffy.
- Heat the oven to 425.  Uncover the dough and dimple the surface all over with your fingertips.  Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with the rosemary and plenty of salt (and other toppings, if so desired)
- Put the focaccia in the oven, lower the temperature to 375 and bake for about 30 min, or until the focaccia is golden.  Remove and cool on a rack before serving.  Cut the focaccia into squares and serve with meals or as a snack.  Or cut squares in half horizontally and use to make sandwiches.  Focaccia, well wrapped (first in plastic, then in foil) freezes fairly well for 2 weeks or so.  Reheat, straight from the freezer (unwrap, remove the plastic, and then rewrap in foil), in a 350f oven for 10 to 15 min.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Panera's Spinach Artichoke Souffle

During the week, breakfast at our home consists of a bowl of cereal or maybe a yogurt, so when the weekend rolls around we try to get a little fancier, making omelets, pancakes, etc.  A few weeks back, we were running errands and stopped in for brunch at Panera Bread.  Not wanting a breakfast sandwich or bagel, the spinach artichoke souffle caught my eye.  It was so delicious that I almost didn't want to give my husband a taste (but, alas, I did, as I could not deny him the yumminess of it).  Last week, on a whim I decided to turn to trusty old Google to see what I could find that was similar, and I came across this article where, back in 2008 Good Morning America did a segment on Top Secret Recipes Revealed!

Now, this isn't the usual fluffy OMG-is-it-going-to-collapse type of souffle, this is a totally cheating method using Pillsbury crescent roll dough to encase the whole thing.  I have to tell you, this was so simple to make and came out tasting absolutely delicious!  Although there's only two of us, I made the full recipe for 4, we stuck the other two in the fridge and ate them for breakfast two days later.  Still tasted just as good as right out of the oven!  The one thing I adjusted was that we had a bag of shredded Mexican blend cheese, so instead of 1/4 cup of cheddar and 1/4 cup Monterey Jack, I just did 1/2 cup of Mexican blend.

I would definitely make this again.  Especially if we were having overnight guests or just friends/family over for breakfast.  Serve with a side of fruit, and you got yourself a whole meal right there!

Panera Bread's Spinach Artichoke Baked Egg Souffle (as published by Good Morning America in 2008)

3 tablespoons frozen spinach, thawed
3 tablespoons minced artichoke hearts
2 teaspoons minced onion
1 teaspoon minced red bell pepper
5 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 tablespoon shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
1 8-ounce tube Pillsbury Crescent butter flake dough
melted butter
¼ cup shredded Asiago cheese

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Combine spinach, artichoke hearts, onion, and red bell pepper in a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of water, cover bowl with plastic wrap and poke a few holes in the plastic. Microwave on high for 3 minutes.
- Beat 4 eggs. Mix in milk, cream, cheddar cheese, Jack cheese, Parmesan, and salt. Stir in spinach, artichoke, onion, and bell pepper.
- Microwave egg mixture for 30 seconds on high, and then stir it. Do this 4 to 5 more times or until you have a very runny scrambled egg mixture. This process will tighten up the eggs enough so that the dough won't sink into the eggs when it's folded over.
- Unroll and separate the crescent dough into four rectangles. In other words, don't tear the dough along the perforations that make triangles. Instead, pinch the dough together along those diagonal perforations so that you have four rectangles. Use some flour on the dough and roll across the width of the rectangle with a rolling pin so that each piece of dough stretches out into a square that is approximately 6 inches by 6 inches.
- Brush melted butter inside four 4-inch baking dishes or ramekins. Line each ramekin with the dough, then spoon equal amounts of egg mixture into each ramekin. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of asiago cheese on top of the egg mixture in each ramekin, and then gently fold the dough over the mixture.
- Beat the last egg in a small bowl, then brush beaten egg over the top of the dough in each ramekin.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until dough is brown. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the souffl├ęs from each ramekin and serve hot.