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Cooking Concoctions

For your reading convenients below you will find all the Cooking Concoctions published in 2018

January 2018

I want to wish all the readers a very Happy New Year. What better way to begin the New Year than with two delicious bread recipes. I will be focusing on different bread recipes from around the world for the next few months. So, if you have a great traditional bread recipe to share, just send your recipes to my email address above.

Focaccia: Is an Italian flat oven baked bread. It can be seasoned with olive oil, salt, and herbs. It can be topped with cheese, meat, and vegetables.

Rosemary Olive Focaccia
2 1/2 teaspoons active dried yeast
1 3/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons quality extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Greek Pitted Kalamata Olives, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup quality extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
Fresh coarsely chopped rosemary leaves for topping

Yeast dough.:
Combine the yeast, water and sugar in a bowl and let it sit in a warm place for about 15 minutes until frothy.

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add and combine the flour, salt, olive oil and yeast mixture. Fit the stand mixer with a dough hook and knead the dough on low speed until the dough comes together, then increase to medium speed and continue to knead for another 5-7 minutes until the texture becomes smooth and soft. If the dough is too sticky add a little more flour.
2. Remove the dough, spray the mixer bowl with olive oil, return the dough, cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and put it in a warm, draft-free place to rise for at least 1 hour or until doubled in size.
3. Coat a standard sheet pan with the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Do not skimp on the oil. That is not only going to enable some olive oil to absorb up into the focaccia from the bottom, it is going to produce a lightly crispy bottom crust.
4. Place the dough on the oiled sheet pan, pulling and pressing it with your hands to spread it across to fit the size of the pan.
5. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for another 60 minutes or until doubled in size. After about 45 minutes, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
6. Use your fingertips to press lots of deep dimples into the dough without breaking through the bottom surface of the dough. These deep depressions will enable the olive oil to absorb into the bread while baking. In addition, the dimples will also provide a convenient divot in which to place the olives.
7. Drizzle with olive oil. Be generous. Remember, focaccia is also known as “olive oil bread” and that is key to achieving the right texture and consistency.
8. Place the olives in some of the dimples. There is no right or wrong as to how many olives you use. I space them about an inch or so apart across the whole sheet pan.
9. Sprinkle generously with fresh rosemary and coarse salt.
10. Bake on the middle shelf for 15 - 20 minutes or until the top is light golden brown.
11. Let it cool for a couple of minutes before slicing into squares. It is best served immediately while the crust is still warm and crispy.
Note: Using fresh rosemary is an absolute must, do not substitute.
If you want a milder taste, use black olives instead.

Baguette: Is a rustic oblong French bread, this bread is distinguishable by its length and crisp crust.
1 (1/4 ounce) packet active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 ˝ cups warm water
2 teaspoons natural sea salt
4 – 4 ˝ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1. Place the yeast, honey and warm water in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the salt and the flour. Use a wooden spoon to stir 2 cups of the flour mixture into the yeast mixture; stir in the remaining flour mixture (dough will be stiff).
3. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead with floured hands until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5-7 minutes. Add a little flour, 1 tablespoon at a time as necessary, to prevent dough from sticking.
4. Place in an oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap (or a clean kitchen towel) and leave to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
5. Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
6. Gently punch dough down to deflate it and shape into two oblong baguettes. Dust tops lightly with flour and place on a lightly greased baking sheet; let rise uncovered for 30 minutes.
7. Use a serrated knife to cut 3-5 small diagonal slits across the tops of the baguettes, and lightly sprinkle with cool water.
8. Bake in the middle of oven for 25 - 30 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Note: Best eaten the same day.

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