Ahhh, Spring. Spring is the eternal optimist. Spring is the hopeless romantic. Spring is the lofty dreamer.
Spring is….not quite here yet.
It’s that time of year again. Just when you think you’re in the clear. The flirtatious teasing of warm and sunny days – rudely interrupted by the sudden and more-scary-than-you-would-think, afternoon hailstorm. When did hail become SO large?? The refuge of seeing spring produce slowly trickling into the market makes up for the postponement of consistent sunshine. More than makes up for it, in fact. My heart went pitter-patter this morning when I saw bright green sugar peas in their cute pods, strawberries so bright and cheery, there was nothing left to do but smile. And to take a big whiff. WOW. It still gets met every time. Every single time. One whiff and you almost FEEL healthier. That sweetly distinctive smell of fresh strawberries should be bottled up and archived in the Smithsonian as a national treasure. The zucchini, watercress, asparagus, shittake mushrooms, all seemed to be doing back flips and somersaults..showing off their newly discovered youth, vibrancy and brightness.
T. is out of town, so I will save all the spring goodies for us to enjoy when he returns. In the meantime, since there was still a bit of chill in the air this morning, I decided to make use of the lovely rosemary in our herb garden to bake up a batch of Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia. Rosemary and Garlic. The dynamic duo.
This focaccia is perfect on its own (ideally warm and straight out of the oven) to dip in small pools of olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a side of mixed olives to boot; and the remaining can be used to give turkey or vegetable weekend paninis that extra kick.
Instead of shaping the focaccia into a circle as in the original recipe, I chose instead to use a 17X11 inch baking pan since I love the look of the large rectangular shape when presented in its entirety at the table. Also, the rectangle allows you to cut out perfect sandwiches for your paninis. Just slice in half horizontally and watch those fingers. In addition to the delicious results of this simple focaccia, I must admit, the thing I enjoy most is creating those adorable dimples (you’ll see what I mean…it is so much fun)!
Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia
Tweaked from Saveur, Serves 8
Music Pairing: My Eyes, Travis, The Boy with No Name
- 1/4 ounce active dry yeast (1 envelope)
- 4 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 8 sprigs rosemary (less if you happen to not have 8 sprigs)
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped (more if you love things garlicky)
- coarse sea salt
Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl and let stand 10 minutes, then add 2 tbsp. of the oil. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Strip and chop leaves from 5 of the rosemary branches and stir into flour with chopped garlic. Add yeast mixture and 1 1/4 cups water and stir until dough becomes too stiff to stir. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Shape dough into a ball, transfer to a large oiled bowl, and cover with a damp cloth. Allow dough to rise in a warm spot for 2 hours.
Transfer dough to lightly oiled baking sheet . Knead dough down and press with oiled hands into baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk together remaining 3 tbsp. oil and 1 tbsp. water in small bowl. Remove cloth from dough and dimple dough with your fingertips, then brush with oil-and-water emulsion. Arrange small springs of rosemary from remaining 3 branches over dough and sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden, about 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.