CHIPOTLE GARLIC FOCACCIA & ROMESCO DIP

“We may not be able to get certainty, but we can get probability, and half a loaf is better than no bread.”
C.S. Lewis
Made some scrumptious Chipotle Garlic Focaccia some days ago, & it’s begging me to get posted. The pressure of posts lining up is threatening to burst my drafts folder, as I struggle with this silly writer’s block. No time on hand is another matter altogether, & as I recently said to Judy (on Twitter obviously) – It’s a wonder we get anything done…half my recent life has been twittered away!! And then of course there’s always the Greek foodie, Peter, who twitters about wondering which post to post. Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh…how come he has so much time?
Now for the focaccia. The recipe is the one I use often, the ‘Roasted Garlic & Bell Pepper Focaccia’ posted here. This time, I gave it a twist with some smoked chipotle paste from a bottle that Nic @ Cherrapeno mailed from the UK. That stuff is seriously addictive & I love it. Have tried it in many avatars including spiking up a basic tomato ketchup, & also giving a delicious kick to a yogurt dip! It’s a zingy thing to have on hand, & lent a lovely, subtle yet smokey flavour to the focaccia. Not spicy, not chili…just GREAT!!
We finished 1 and 3/4’s of the focaccia loaves, & I had a 1/4 on hand. Currently trying very hard not to waste food as far as possible. Word food wastage figures are going through the roof, & world hunger figures continue to explode. My attempts to stop food wastage are in line with an ongoing initiative – BloggerAid Changing the Face of Famine, being led by 2 Canadian food bloggers, Val of More Than Burnt Toast & Giz of Equal Opportunity Kitchen, aimed at fundraising, and creating a community to alleviate world food hunger. This initiative is supported by the World Food Programme. To learn more about this initiative, do visit us @ BloggerAid Changing the Face of Famine.

Got lucky one morning. The day I was sitting with a 1/4 focaccia, wondering what to do with it, I tripped on this really GOOD looking Romesco dip on Tastespotting (or was it FoodGawker), I followed the dip to Dinner With Julie’s. Imagine my delight, I had all the ingredients on hand, even found 2 roasted red bell peppers sitting in the fridge. All items checked, I hit the counter pronto to make the dip. It was delicious. I roasted some garlic too while toasting the bread, & the almonds as well in between. This is a seriously good dip. The almonds work some magic in there to give it a nutty flavour, the bread adds some texture, the paprika a kick of colour…& the olive oil just brings it all alive. I used some extra olive oil, made a few minor changes,& the found a keeper of a recipe. The kids loved it too, & I licked the bowl clean (a rare moment, but unavoidable!). Michelle @ Big Black Dogs made it while I twittered about it, & she loved the dip too. Thank you for posting this YUM Romesco Julie!ROMESCO DIP
as adapted from Dinner With Julie
In her words, “All the amounts here are approximate – it’s a dip, so feel free to wing it.”
Ingredients:
1/4 cup roasted almonds (roasted in the oven at 180C for 10-15minutes till fragrant)
3 garlic cloves ( I toasted the garlic with the bread)
4 thick slices focaccia bread, toasted (or 3 if you’re using a baguette)
2 red peppers, roasted
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. paprika
Salt to taste
2-6 Tbsp. olive oil (or canola)Method:

  • Toast almonds in a medium oven till they are pale golden and fragrant.
  • Toast the bread & unpeeled garlic cloves for 10-15 minutes in a medium hot oven. Peel the garlic, & tear the bread into chunks.
  • Transfer to a food processor & pulse until the bread and nuts turn to crumbs.
  • Add the red peppers, vinegar, paprika and salt and whiz until well blended. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and process until the mixture has the consistency of thick mayonnaise, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  • Serve with pitas, slices of crusty baguette, cooked tail-on shrimp, naan or veggies.
  • Makes about 1 cup. (Will keep in the fridge for a day or two. Make sure the top is covered with a thin film of oil.)
  • I served it the next time with slices of French bread…mmmmmmmmm!

    Foodblogger-2008

On another note, Andrea @ FoodBlogger 2008 included me in her post for the Best of Foodblogs 2008…& I proudly display the badge she gave me. Thanks for the mention Andrea, & for being so patient with me. Please feel free to mail Andrea @ andrea.mahlers@gmx.de if you wish to send her your favourite 2008 recipe from your blog.

RUSTIC ITALIAN FOCACCIA…IN A RING & MORE!

“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”
Robert Browning

as rustic as it gets…

Italian artisan bread…

Thicker than a pizza, this dimpled bread, focaccia, gets it’s name from the Latin word focus, meaning ‘hearth’ , because it was originally baked on an open hearth. Italian bakers use focaccia dough to make many different speciality breads, such as this ring, stuffed with fragrant pesto, or for that matter, with any other flavouring you might like ( quoted from Le Cordon Blue; The Cook’s Bible).

I made one with home made pesto, & the other with a mushroom, garlic, cheese filling (we liked the second one better). Other interesting alternatives include:

  • Chopped fresh sage, crushed garlic, coarse sea salt & olive oil
  • Finely chopped black or green olives
  • Chopped sun dried tomatoes marinated in olive oil, shredded mozzarella & fresh basil
  • Sauteed onions & chopped fresh herbs

Artisan bread is exactly what its name suggests: bread that is crafted, rather than mass produced. Baked in small batches rather than on a vast assembly line, artisan bread differs from prepackaged supermarket loaves in a number of ways. Special attention to ingredients, process, and a return to the fundamentals of the age-old bread-making tradition set artisan bread apart from soft, preservative-laden commercial breads. For a more complex, flavored artisan bread, the ingredients list might expand to include various other items, all of them recognizable: sliced onions, cheddar cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil. Bread has been around for centuries. No chemicals were added to the breads baked by ancient Egyptians or those mentioned throughout the Bible, and none are added to artisan breads now.

We had company for dinner. I wanted to make bread. I had to make bread. DH suggested savoury Danish coz he fell in love with it after the last DB challenge, in June. I was tempted but that much butter was just not on…not twice a month & not in summer at least! So that morning I sat with my faithful pile of cookbooks around me, almost getting carried away to try something very challenging. Almost thought I would just go bake the Danish, & then saw this focaccia in the Le Cordon Blue Cook’s Bible. Made up my mind really QUICK!! It had to be this…I love rustic, artisan breads! It didn’t disappoint at all. I am posting this urgently on a request (3rd reminder today) from my SIL who was over for dinner & loved this bread. Without further ado…here we go. (I got 2 flavoured rings & 2 smaller shaped loaves out of this dough)
Focaccia dough as adapted from ‘The Cook’s Bible’, pg 239
Ingredients:
Active Instant Yeast – 1 2/3 tbsp
Sugar – 1/2 tsp
Warm water – 300ml
Flour – 700 gms
Whole wheat flour – 200gms
Salt – 2 tsp
Olive oil – 4tsp
Dried Italian Herbs- 2-3 tbsps
Filling of your choice ( I did one with mushrooms + garlic, recipe here; & the other with basil-almond pesto, recipe here)

Method:

  • Proof the yeast by sprinkling it over 2 tbsps of warm water from the recipe & 1/2 tsp sugar. Cover & leave until frothy.
  • Stir the flours + salt + dried Italian herbs into a big bowl & make a well in the centre.
  • Add yeast + remaining water + olive oil. Mix to a dough.Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes.
  • Shape into a ball, & place in a oiled bowl. Cover with a damp cloth, & let rise until doubles (1-2 hours).
  • Punch down the dough, knead for 2-3 minutes, then let rest for 5 minutes.
  • Roll about 1/3 of the dough into a 40 X 30 cm rectangle & spread the filling of your choice evenly over it, leaving a 1 cm border.
  • Starting from one long side, roll into a cylinder. Pinch the seams to seal, but not the ends. Transfer seam side down, to a floured baking sheet, shape into a ring, & pinch ends to seal.
  • Slice the ring at 5 cm intervals to within 2 cm of the centre. Gently pull out each slice & twist it over to one side to show the cut edge. Cover & let rise until doubled, 30-45 minutes.
  • Brush lightly with olive oil, sprinkle over with coarse sea salt & bake at 190 degrees C until golden, 30-40 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
  • Note: I made sandwiches from the other loaves the next day…filling them with shredded grilled chicken, tomatoes, onions, mozzarella & mustard.

SANDWICCIA ANYONE?…Focaccia sandwiches by another name!

“It has been well said that a hungry man is more interested in four sandwiches than four freedoms.”
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., (American diplomat)
Sandwiccia…a focaccia sandwich!
Made some Roasted Garlic & Bell Pepper Focaccia again the other day. This very versatile Italian bread has become quite a staple at home since the kids LOVE it. It’s a gratifying feeling that they enjoy garlic & basil as much as we do…which just means that meal times are simpler & fun to plan too. They enjoy home baked breads of all sorts. For me, it’s therapeutic. The mixing, the kneading, the rising & finally the aromas that waft through the whole house makes life just seem more worthwhile. I made a double batch of focaccia, & served up the second batch the next day as grilled SANDWICCIAS…my coined phrase for focaccia sandwiches, which quite takes sandwiches to another level altogether. They were obviously quite because they were polished off in next to no time. The kids said they tasted just like pizzas, but better!! So here you go…presenting some cheesy grilled SANDWICCIAS!

Roasted Garlic & Bell Pepper Focaccia – recipe HERE
For the Sandwiccias

  • Cool the focaccia completely, & then slice horizontally to get 2 flat slices.
  • Spread a layer of cheese spread, followed by slices of cheese, then sliced tomatoes, salt & freshly ground pepper, fresh chopped basil leaves & some grated cheese. (Add any filling of your choice).
  • Grill the focaccia sandwiches on a lightly greased pan for about 3-4 minutes on each side, weighed down with a panini press if possible. (I use a metal plate with a weight on top).
  • The cheese melts & acts as the glue, holding everything together well…& the flavours of the focaccia come through really nicely.
  • Quarter & serve warm, with potato wedges & a salad / pasta.
  • I served ours with ‘roasted garlic & pesto’ oven-baked potato wedges, & fusili in a light cream coriander sauce with red & yellow bell peppers.

This yummy sandwiccia is off to the Sandwich Festival 2008, an event hosted by Anupama @ Food n More. In her words…”I love bread and am constantly looking for ideas to make different kinds of sandwich creations. They are great in lunch boxes and perfect food when you are on the go. They are also a healthy option when you are too tired to cook and whatsmore a sandwich is something that even husbands can make on their own without grumbling too much. “

I agree with her… I’m always game for creative sandwich ideas too. Am now beginning to go a step further; I sometimes try & make the bread too! This sandwicciawas the result of one such culinary adventure…one that was very satisfying!

Full of flavour…ENJOY!!

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