Easy Focaccia

You will love this authentic focaccia. You don’t even need a mixer to make it. Just a bowl and a fork. It is reminiscent of Riviera-style focaccia. Not very thick, with the moistness of olive oil, and a crunchy-tender bite.

You can top it with almost anything. I usually sprinkle thinly sliced onion, or sliced pitted olives, and/or rosemary. And then a touch of finishing salt.

Here’s the recipe. Let me know how you do!

Riviera Focaccia with Rosemary and Olives

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons plus scant 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed, stems discarded
1/2 cup of pitted kalamata olives, or favorite pitted olives, sliced
1/4 teaspoon finishing salt, or regular salt

Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the yeast and sugar to a small mixing bowl, add 1 cup warm water. Stir once. When yeast puffs up (blooms), add 2 tablespoons olive.

Make a well/hole in the center of the flour mixture. Pour in the wet ingredients. Whisk together gently with a fork until flour is all absorbed and the mixture looks smooth, about 1 minute. Cover dough in bowl with plastic wrap to seal, then cover with a clean kitchen towel. Place in a draft-free spot and let dough to rise until about doubled, about 1-1 ½ hours.

Pour a scant 1/4 cup of olive oil in a quarter-sheet pan, or rimmed jelly roll pan (approximately 9 x 13-inches). Pour out the dough into the pan without folding it, using a spatula to help (dip spatula in the oil — dough will be sticky). Poke your fingers into some of the oil, so the dough won’t stick as you poke down the dough to fill pan. Push it into the corners and try to even out the thickness all around. Poking the dough gives it the characteristic pocked surface of focaccia. Cover the dough with plastic, without sealing it— just on top to cover, and then kitchen towel. Let rise about 30 minutes more. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

When the dough has risen a second time, discard plastic. Poke your (oiled) fingers to make impressions again, scatter rosemary, olives, and finishing salt on top. Bake focaccia in the hot oven for about 20-30 minutes until deep golden. Allow to cool a few minutes before loosening from pan with a spatula. Cut into squares or strips.


Classic Bolognese Sauce – A Recipe

Classic Bolognese Sauce   photo by Jen McCarter

When a classic is a classic, let’s keep it a classic. I’m all for experimentation. But after the new-fangled dust settles, let’s go back to homey goodness of what definitely works.

Bolognese Sauce. It’s classic version varies slightly but the usual suspects are still hanging around making sure the taste remains superb.

We recently made Bolognese sauce with fresh-made spinach fettuccine in a class of mine. Oh happy day.

Start off with that trio of bottom-flavor goodness: diced onion, carrot, celery…

Amie and I talking soffritto

Amie and I talking soffritto  photo by Jen McCarter

…AND some minced pancetta.

first ingredients

first ingredients  photo by Jen McCarter

Heat a little olive oil in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and pancetta…sauté until softened…

soffrito cooking

soffritto cooking

Lindsay sauteing

Now it’s time to add the meat. Ground veal is the traditional ingredient. We added 1 lb. ground veal and 1/2 lb. ground beef.

ground veal and beef

ground veal and beef

Add it to the cooking soffrito and break up the meat into small pieces as you stir…

Lindsay breaking up meat

Cook meat until it loses its raw color…

browned meat

browned meat

Next comes the dry white wine or dry vermouth — about a cup…

pouring in the vermouth

pouring in the vermouth   photo by Jen McCarter

Cook until wine or vermouth evaporates. Now add the other liquid ingredients. We added a 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes and about 2 cups chicken broth…

add tomatoes & broth

add tomatoes & broth

Season with salt & pepper and bring to simmer. Cook uncovered for about an hour or more until the liquids mostly evaporate and the sauce thickens.

cooked Bolognese sauce

cooked Bolognese sauce

We made some fresh made spinach fettuccine (looking for that recipe? let me know!) to go with our Bolognese sauce…

making fresh fettuccine

making fresh fettuccine   photo by Jen McCarter

Spinach Fettuccine w Classic Bolognese Sauce

Spinach Fettuccine w Classic Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 celery stalk, minced

2 carrots, minced

1 small onion, minced

2 slices pancetta, coarsely chopped

1  1/2 lbs. ground beef or a mixture of beef and veal

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1-2 cups chicken broth

¼ cup heavy cream or milk (optional)

salt & pepper to taste

In a medium heavy saucepan heat the olive oil. When hot add the celery, carrot, and onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the pancetta, cook another 3 minutes. Add the beef/veal and cook, breaking up the clumps until no longer raw. Add the wine. Cook until almost evaporated. Add the tomatoes and broth. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a slow simmer and set heat to low. Let simmer for an hour or two until the liquid has reduced. Add cream and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

Bonnie serving up the pasta

Thanks to Jen McCarter for some of the photos!