I don’t recall where the immediate idea came from to make this foccacia again, but I’m glad I did. It’s not something most of us would think of when we hear the word “foccacia.” When working the unyeasted dough, I thought it was more like a pasta dough than anything. The foccacia recipe is from Recipes From Paradise by Fred Plotkin. It’s got some oddities (for example, equating 1/3 inch with 1 to 1.5 mm) so not entirely to be trusted, but a lot of it is very good.
-100 mins: Make a dough by combining 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (using Central Milling Company) and 2 Tbsp olive oil, then add in somewhat less than 1/2 cup tepid water (I microwaved it 10 seconds), increasing the amount as needed for parts of the dough that are too dry. The recipe then simply says “cover the dough with a cloth and let sit for an hour in a warm, draft-free environment. No mention of making the dough into a ball, much less of kneading it. I worked it right in the mixing bowl, pressing and kneading a bit till I found out there was too little water – added some, worked a bit, added more, etc – till it felt like a pretty good dough. At this point I realized this felt like a pasta dough.
I warmed the small oven and let the dough sit, balled up, in the mixing bowl, with a towel over it, for an hour. I think using a (many times reused!) piece of plastic warp would be better, b/c the top of the dough did dry out a bit.
After the hour was up, I broke the dough into two unequal pieces (not 1/3:2/3 – much more equal than that – maybe 2/5:3/5 though) and worked them around for a few minutes, then let them rest for a few minutes. The larger ball makes up the lower crust of the foccacia. I rolled it into perhaps a 14” diameter circle, a couple mm thick, and removed it to my big pizza pan, which I had dusted well with flour.
I had cut the crust of the taleggio away and cut the soft interior into pieces perhaps 3/4″ on a side. The whole piece was 6 1/2 oz, of which 1 1/2 oz was crust. I ended up using only 4 oz total of the creamy part of the cheese, and putting the rest away. I probably could have squeezed a bit ore cheese into the space, but the amount I used was pretty good. I dotted these pieces onto the bottom crust on the pizza pan.
The smaller piece of dough I rolled, per the recipe, till it was “almost transparent.” Indeed, to my astonishment, it was not hard to roll to the point where I could see the dark and light patches of my bread board through the dough! I rubbed water onto the edges of the bottom dough, then carefully laid the top dough over the bottom with the cheese mounds, starting at one side and moving over the rest. I pressed the dough down between the cheese mounds, and carefully around the edge so no cheese would leak out. The internal pressings didn’t particularly work (the dough bloomed up) but the edges remained sealed.
At this point I was supposed to drizzle olive oil over the top of the foccacia and sprinkle salt over it, but I forgot. I rubbed a bunch of flour on my pizza peel and moved the foccacia onto it; after assuring myself that the foccacia was not so heavy (it WAS heavy) that it would fail to slide well off the peel, I moved it onto my baking stone in the oven. I remembered in a couple of minutes that I had forgotten the oil and salt (bad idea! note there is no salt in the dough) and removed the foccacia. I drizzled about 2 tsp olive oil over the top (after bunging it down a bit – it had ballooned in some places by then) and then scattered more than 1/4 tsp but less than 1/2 tsp Kosher salt over the top. I returned the foccacia to the oven, and it was golden and beautiful about when the original, 8 min timer went off, despite its sojourn back onto the bread board.
It was lovely! the crust was light and crispy, and the taleggio was a fine taste for the foccacia. No doubt this is not the “correct” taste, which requires a particular Crescenza known as Invernizzina, but nevertheless, it was a terrific dish.
We have this 3lb bag of Brussels sprouts to use up (99cent version from the Bowl on the 30th) so I looked up a bunch of sprout recipes. I settled on a very simple roasted sprout recipe from The Food Network, from a show called “The Barefoot Contessa.” I made 1/4 recipe: peel and trim Brussels sprouts, ending with 6 oz; toss in 2 1/4 tsp olive oil (perfect amount!), then 3/16 tsp (3 smidgens) salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. We thought the salt was a bit much; I didn’t actually measure the pepper, but was pretty generous in grating it over the sprouts. These go into a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, with sporadic shaking so they don’t burn. They were done a bit early, perhaps b/c they were on a low shelf under the pizza stone, perhaps b/c they were little ones (which would not affect their outer leaves, so that’s likely not it).
Rather than heat up both ovens, we decided to heat the sprouts in the large oven, then turn up to 500 when they were close to done. They got done earlier than expected, so D pulled them out, and I put them back into the oven a minute or two before the foccacia was done, and left then in while I negotiated that.
It’s Friday, ergo Friday wine: Cantina Zacagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2010. No doubt Fred Plotkin would disapprove (“accompanied by a white wine”) but it really was a fine wine for this meal. I was impressed how much the Brussels sprouts liked the wine and vice versa. It also went just fine with the foccacia.