Friday, June 21, 2013

Garlic and Herb Focaccia

One time I made focaccia bread at home. When it was done it smelled like garlic and herbs. I let it cool and then I made sandwiches loaded full of delicious things. I even cut off the edges intending to make croutons. 
I snacked on them instead. It seemed like the right thing to do.  Fresh focaccia is like a tiny piece of heaven. Right in your mouth. One thing to be aware of when making this particular focaccia bread is that the taste of your olive oil will be very prevalent. It's important to use good quality olive oil, some oils found at grocery stores today are less than focaccia worthy. So be sure to break out the good stuff for this recipe. 

Garlic and Herb Focaccia Bread

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup warm water
In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), mix the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Mix in the garlic and herbs. Pour in the water and olive oil and mix until the dough comes together, by hand or with a dough hook attachment, if using a stand mixer. Knead the dough until it has pulled away from the sides of the bowl (adding additional flour only if necessary – the dough will get less sticky as it kneads), about 4-6 minutes. The dough should be soft and pliable but not overly stiff. Likewise, it shouldn’t leave a lot of sticky dough residue on your fingers. The goal is a soft, supple dough.
Cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 30 minutes, until it is puffy. Deflate dough and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease a large, rimmed baking sheet and with your hands, spread the dough out roughly an 8x10 rectangle. Use your knuckles or fingertips to make indentations over the dough, about every 1/2 inch. Lightly brush dough’s surface with olive oil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.
Immediately after removing from the oven, stir together 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt and brush over the surface of the hot bread. Tear or slice into pieces and serve.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Life has been a bit busy lately. Summer is upon us in full force, a fact that we were madevery aware of about 2 weeks ago on a “record heat” day in May when temperaturessoared into the high 90’s. The routine went something like wake up sweaty, goto work sweaty, drive home sweaty, remove all sweaty clothing and lay miserablyin the 85 degree house. This lasted for a few days until our swamp cooler wasfixed. My quality of life has gone up, significantly.

My little vegetable garden is growing, growing, growing. Afew Saturdays ago we planted the sweetest garden. I was so surprised when I sawthe seeds starting to sprout over the weekend. I continue to hold fast to mycommitment to NOT KILL ANYTHING. I will have vegetables thisfall, dangit.

I got a sort ofpromotion. I am filling in for one of the executive assistants at work whileshe’s out on maternity leave. It’s pretty cool. I get a pin board at my desk toput pictures on. 

Adam and I have started a let’s-eat-healthy-because-we-can’t-afford-to-buy-bigger-clothesstreak. Ha. I have been killing it in the kitchen coming up with healthier breakfast/lunch/dinneroptions and truly we are feeling much better. We’re only a couple weeks in andare hanging in. #nomorecookies 

We don't have much on the schedule for the summer a few little trips here and there but mostly we'll just be at home, hanging out at the pool, cruising around on the motorbike and tending to our garden and enjoying time with each other before fall gets here and schedules are less accommodating to our relationship.

Proof that healthy eating is really not that bad, coconut and lime chicken with jasmine brown rice
Proof that the garden grows: SEE, I even made plant signs

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Kite Flying Picnic

A couple Sundays ago my cute family went on a kite flying picnic. We packed lunches (sandwiches on homemade focaccia...recipe to come!) and busted out two new kites. We found the perfect shady spot in the park and spent the afternoon enjoying each other. 

Even though the wind was less than impressive we got our kites up for a minute, mostly by running laps around the open field. 

It was an awesome afternoon spent with the people I love most. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I attempted to make strawberry rhubarb pie 3 times, I was successful just once. Each time I failed because I was missing one of the key ingredients.  Rhubarb. The first time I attempted to make my husbands favorite treat was in early April, granted a little premature for rhubarb, but I was hopeful. I called every grocery store within 20 miles of me crossing my fingers that I would find some rhubarb. Unfortunately there was none. None! It was too early in the season. I tried a couple more times and it was still a tad too early. Then there were vacations, and life just got in the way. So finally one weekday night last week I did it! I made strawberry rhubarb pie, and Adam was in heaven. I had one ball of pie dough in my freezer and didn't want to make more for a top crust, so I decided to make a crumble topping. And boy am I glad I did. It's like crisp meets pie and everything is right in the world. Bitter rhubarb becomes surprisingly sweet when mixed with fresh strawberries, and sugar. Everything gets freshened up with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of cinnamon. You're going to love this. Don't fear the rhubarb. Embrace it. Top this tasty pie with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and you'll wonder why you didn't make this months ago.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie 

1 recipe double-crust pie dough of your choice (you can half it, or freeze half and do a crumble top or do a double crust pie, whichever you prefer)
3 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
3 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca

Crumble topping:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a well-floured counter, roll half of pie dough into a 12-inch circle and carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie plate.
Stir together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon, cinnamon salt and tapioca in a large bowl. For the crumble mix in a separate bowl the flour and sugar cut in butter with pastry blender or fingers, until mixture is course and generally pea sized, being careful not to overwork. Mound strawberry filling inside bottom pie crust. Sprinkle with crumble topping.  
Place pie on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.
Transfer pie to wire rack to cool. Serve when full cool (several hours later) and the juices are gelled.
Top with ice cream or fresh whipped cream.