As a lover of all things carbohydrate, it is safe to say my favourite kind of food is Italian. Pasta, pizza, cured meat, cheese. Italians know how to eat. They understand that food is for pleasure!
One of the best things about Italian food is the simplicity. It allows the natural flavours of the food to speak for themselves. A simple ball of bocconcini, wrapped in basil and drizzled in olive oil, becomes an explosion of flavour and texture.
Enter focaccia bread. Simple, but divine. Crunchy outside, chewy inside, spiked with rosemary and garlic and coarse salt. Dip it into a plate of olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette and you have an instant appetizer. The perfect way to carbo load before the pasta even hits your plate.
I used to think focaccia would be one of those picky artisan breads, but this recipe is so simple! I choose to bake it on a stoneware 9×12 baking sheet, but any solid baking sheet will do. Don’t be too cheap with the olive oil on the base of your pan. That is what will give your bread the kind of crust that will have you singing that “Bella Notte” song from Lady and the Tramp. Shameless Disney reference, and the only Italian song I know…
Rosemary Garlic Focaccia Bread:
1 Tbsp sugar
2 packets yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup epicure focaccia spices
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 cup hot water
2 tsp salt
4 cups flour
Extra flour and olive oil
2 tbsp semolina flour or cornmeal
Sea salt (as desired)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (fresh not powdered)
Dissolve sugar in warm water. Stir in yeast and let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix spices, hot water and olive oil. Let spices soften while yeast sits.
Allow spice mixture to cool to lukewarm. Combine with yeast mixture and salt. Add flour, one cup at a time.
Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
Brush baking sheet with olive oil, and sprinkle with semolina flour or cornmeal. Spread dough out onto pan with fingers, indenting surface. Drizzle and brush on olive oil. Allow to rise in a warm spot, covered, for 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden.
Serve while still warm. Excellent with oil and vinegar.
Variations: add sliced olives, sundries tomatoes, and different types of cheese for a variety of flavours.
Recipe from epicure.com