Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Foccacia Therapy

Firstly, the big news...the Nanoose Edibles Produce Box Program begins next week! Yippee! I can't wait. The start date is bit later than usual due to the horrid weather this last winter and spring. The Nanoose Edibles organic farmers have been working hard to get the crops going and finally, the wait it over. This weekly box program is a blessing for local food lovers like me. It's like a culinary Christmas every week. For those that weren't able to sign-up for the box program, the Nanoose Edibles farm is open daily for produce sales. They're at 1960A Stewart Road in Nanoose Bay. Just follow along the 19 to Nanoose Bay, turn right at on Northwest Bay road at the Petro Canada. Turn right again at Steward Road.

I'm planning to visit other local farms and share want I find in the coming months.

Yesterday was a Leftover Monday. Not leftover food but leftover errands, chores, deadlines and bits and pieces of life from last week that didn't get dealt with. So I rolled up my sleeves and got to it. I realized why some of these duties didn't get dealt with last week ;P

By 5pm, I was tired of running from one menial task to another and needed some stress release. Not spinning and knitting stress release but good old dough kneading stress release. I have a BBQ dinner party tonight, so I threw on my baker's cap and made some focaccia to go with all the grilled meat. Why focaccia? Because it not involves therapeutic dough kneading but also the stress erasing pounding to make the herb infused topping.

Here' my Fast & Dirty Focaccia recipe:
3 cups of lukewarm water
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon active dry yeast

7 cups of flour - I used True Grain's Red Fife whole wheat
1 tablespoon salt

In your mixing bowl, stir honey into the water, sprinkle the yeast into the water. Stir until it dissolves and set aside for it to foam and bubble up.

Add 3-4 cups of flour. Mix until smooth. Set aside for 15 minutes.
Add the salt and the rest of the flour. You should have a soft, sticky dough at this point. Pour the dough onto a lightly floured counter and began kneading.
Kneading doesn't mean pounding the life out of the dough. What you're doing is working the gluten in the flour. Well developed gluten will provide the strength in the dough to allow it to rise to its fullest.

With the heel of your palms push out the dough without tearing into the dough. The dough will be soft initially but it will begin resisting the more your work it.

Once it's pushed out, fold it the top half over and turn it around 90 degrees and continue back to kneading it out with the heel of your palm. Usually 20 minutes is enough to work the dough well enough and to start releasing the stress of the day from your body ;) Don't use too much flour on your kneading surface, just enough to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter. If it's not sticking, don't add anymore flour. It's done when it springs back when you poke it.
Dough rises best when it has a smooth, unbroken 'skin' on the top so make sure that the smooth size of the dough ball is facing upwards.

Throw the dough, seam side down, into a bowl that's at least 2-3 times the size of the dough ball. I don't bother oiling up the bowl. I find that the dough comes out relatively easy without it. Cover with a damp cloth and put it aside somewhere draft-free and warm. A sunny corner or inside the oven with the light turned on is fine. Let it rise until it's doubled in size. An hour and a half is the usual time but go by the size of the dough, not by the clock.

Once it's doubled, punch it down and take it out for a few more minutes of kneading. The return for another rising. This rising should take only half of the amount of time of the first rising.
I just dump the dough onto a silpat or parchment paper line cookie sheet and gently press down the dough to form the focaccia. I press it down to a scant inch thick. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for another 30 minutes.

While it's rising, get your focaccia topping ready.

I used herbs from my garden.

In my Thai mortar they go with a couple glugs of olive oil, a spoonful of Gabriola Island minced garlic, a healthy pinch of sea salt and a pinch of black peppercorns.
Then begins the stress erasing pounding. Yippee!! Aim to make a thick chunky paste.
Dimple the dough with your fingers and slather on the herb and oil paste .

Bake in a preheated 450F oven for 20-30 minutes. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing into it. While it was cooling, I sauteed up a half a link of smoked local chorizo sausage from Quist farms and some greens from my garden. I also whipped up a tub of hummus. I'm saving most of that for the BBQ tonight but DH and I shared a small bowl with our dinner.
The focaccia had a nice crust and just enough chew. The topping provided a hit of extra flavour. Topped with the mellow hummous and the smoky chorizo, this was definitely a tasty and soothing end to a Leftover Monday.

Now I have to go and take care of all the things I didn't do yesterday because I was taking care of all the stuff I had to do last week before all my dinner guests show up. Good thing I worked all that stress out of me ;)

Have a great week!


Nanaimo's 100 Mile Diet Challenge

1 comment:

smithr@shaw.ca said...

Hi Jen,
I really enjoyed your blog and recipes. I am a personal Chef in Nanaimo and try to use local products in all my cooking. Our association has joined the program . You can find our website at www.100milemeals.net. I look forward to hearing from you. Bon Appetit
Rick Smith