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Monday, February 20, 2012

Focaccia alla Genovese





We get inspiration for our meals in in a variety of ways.


1) There is the inpsiration you get from the leftovers in your fridge or your cupboard. Often the results are satisfying (if only because you are not wasting food), sometimes they are amazing, other times less-than-stellar.

2) Then there are the special recipes you bookmarked from a blog, in a cook book or a magazine. Those are the kind of recipes you go out shopping for, the kind that usually leaves behind an array of ingredients to be used up in recipe number 1).

3) Then there are those spur-of-the moment ideas and when you check you are just lucky enough to have the basic ingredients you need in the house.

A lot of my cooking falls into category 3) these days, just because I haven’t been focused enough or had the time to sit down, plan a meal and look for a fitting recipe.

 

My weekend cooking scenario looks somewhat like this:

Me sitting at my kitchen table. The kids are playing, the husband is in the shower or out buying the paper.

It is a Saturday morning and I waver between the luxurious feeling of the whole week end stretching ahead of me and knowing I have no time. An idea is forming in my mind and I pick up my iPhone and start searching. I google, I check out some blogs, I log onto Foodgawker. I get impatient while the phone loads, I mumble under my breath as I misspell that word for the third time. I hear the clock ticking in the back of my head and I know I am wasting precious time but there are a million recipes and I can’t seem to find exactly what I was looking for. I finally find a recipe I like and I read through it to make sure I have all the ingredients and the technique is clear, that there will be no surprises half way through. All clear and well, only one problem, this recipe makes much more than I want, so I decide to halve the ingredients.

As I start calculating, the phone rings. I dust off my flour-coated fingers and go answer.

When I get back to the kitchen counter 15 minutes have passed and I need to start over, weighing the ingredients again. I am cutting a piece of butter when...

"Moooooommmyyyyyyyy, I’m doooooone" from the bathroom. I go, I wipe, I come back, I wash my hands and start over.

Just as I am measuring the flour again, in walks my son.

"Acqua" he says looking up at me. As he comes closer I realized water isn’t all he needs. I pour him some water and off we go for a diaper change and teeth brushing and dressing while we are at it.

 


Back in the kitchen, after another handwash, I put in the ingredients in the stand mixer. As I start washing up, the fighting starts.

"Stoooooop! That is mine".

"No! Mio."

Thump.

Silence.

"Whaaaaaaaaaaah!"

"Moooooooooommmmmmmyyyyyyyy!!! Whaaaaaaaahhhhhh".

So long for not overmixing.

Finally eyes dried, snotty noses cleaned and peace restored, the kids are in the kitchen with me. They are drawing and I am content, forget their crap strewn all over the floor between the sink, the Kitchen Aid and the oven, which are strategically placed in different corners of the kitchen. I trip and slide over the stuff and hum along to my Ipod, because I’m in a good mood. It is Saturday after all.

Even when little fingers start poking the dough or try to grab an ingredient just as I am chopping it, I keep on humming (ok, maybe with a teeny bit of hollering in between).

Taking my time and spending a relaxing afternoon in the quiet of my kitchen just doesn’t happen, so it is no surprise to me when I forget to beat the egg whites or add in an extra yolk. I post these recipes anyway if they turn out good. Because that is my life as a mom and food blogger and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


I made one of my usual mistakes in this oh-so-simple recipe because I decided to halve the ingredients and then didn’t halve them all. Ooops. So there is more yeast in this focaccia than called for. If it turned out this good with the wrong amounts, I am sure it will be fabulous if you make it right. Of course, the consequence is that it was a little on the bread-y side (and I am usually somebody who likes focaccia to be quite thin and chewy), but it turned out to be just what we needed to sop up the oil from the gambas, so I’m not complaining.

As I already insisted in my last post, when you are making something with so few ingredients, they have to be good quality, down to the salt and water.

I got the recipe from La cucina italiana.

Ingredients

1 tsp active-dry yeast
11/8 lbs all-purpose flour
1 tbsp plus ½ tsp salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little extra
1 cups warm water

Combine the yeast, flour, and 1 tbsp salt in a food processor. I used my kitchen aid with the flat paddel and then a dough hook, but you could also just as easily knead it by hand, the old-fashioned way. Add 1 cups of warm (the recipe suggested 110°, but I didn’t use a thermometer) water with the motor on; the dough should form a ball around the paddle. Add water in drops until it does, if it hasn’t yet. This is when I started using the dough hook Pour in 1/8 cup of olive oil with the motor still running and mix for about a minute. While you are waiting, oil a bowl and then place the dough in it and cover. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Generously oil a baking tray. Extend it to the sides by pushing with your fingers. If the dough is too elastic wait a few minutes.
Mix the remaining olive oil and salt with 1/8 cup water. Pour over the focaccia, make dimples with your fingers and let rise another 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 475°F/250°C. Bake for 18 minutes or until golden but still a little soft. You can eat immediately or at room temperature but it has to be eaten the same day.



 


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20 comments:

  1. Ah the joys of parenthood… ;=) Remarkable that you manage to blog at all!

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    Replies
    1. The blog is what keeps me sane sometimes. Other times, more often actually, it is my kids that keep me sane, if I must be honest.

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  2. I always forget to double or halve some ingredient when I change amounts for a recipe, and I don't even have the distraction provided by children. Your focaccia looks perfect anyway, it must be a forgiving recipe (always the best ones, if you ask me).

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    Replies
    1. There are so many interpretations of foccaccia out there, even in Italy, that it is quite forgiving.

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  3. Well the result look delicious anyway! And if it makes you feel better, I'm the same way with my cooking and I don't even have kids!

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  4. This looks totally delicious..

    Aarthi
    http://www.yummytummyaarthi.com/

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  5. oooh la focaccia!!! saran mesi che non ne mangio una! e chissà che profumino!!! yum!!!

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  6. Looks great! glad I stopped by to say hi! x

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    Replies
    1. Hi Megs, glad you stopped by too. Thanks!

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  7. Haha that happens to me and I don't have any children. I'd say you are much more organised than I! :D I did something similar with pancakes and added more baking powder than I needed and now I don't make pancakes without that extra teaspoon of it!

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    Replies
    1. Yeah I remember you mentioning something along those lines when you made those pretty Valentine's pancakes.

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  8. If it makes you feel any better, I've halved recipes and forgotten to halve some of the ingredients and I don't even have kids yet! I'm sure your focaccia was delicious, and I can't think of anything better to mop up those incredible garlicky prawns. Just my kind of food :-)

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  9. I am not sure I would have been able to blog when my kids were small; I was so stressed those days! Glad it is over! Your focaccia turned out really well considering all the interruptions!

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    Replies
    1. That is pretty much an example of any recipe I make, not just the focaccia! I wish ;o)

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  10. That looks amazing!!! I love bread of all forms, so bready is good! Just more heft to soak up some good olive oil. And haha, I would never be able to make that in the spur of the moment...esp with kids running around! But I guess your darling kids actually provide you with a lot of content for your blog. :-)

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  11. I am also very much no. 1 these days ><
    I also always forget to halve or double ingredients, and it's often times maddening because just that little tiny bit more baking soda makes everythign just odd, your bread still looks pretty fabulous I must say!

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  12. Whenever I try #1, that's when disaster strikes. My improvisation when cooking is atrocious, and it all ends in tears.

    I cannot imagine cooking with kids around. Parents are saints.

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    Replies
    1. In Italy they say: you wanted a bicycle? Now you must pedal. So you cook with kids, sometimes the results are better, sometimes worse.

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  13. The controlled (sort of) chaos of your Saturdays sounds like true life: That's what mommyhood and cookinghood is all about. A pinch of this, a dab of that, whoops dropped an egg shell in there, HEY QUIET DOWN OUT THERE, leaving something on too long, running out of the thing you need... but in the end, it's worth it. Right?

    (Easy for me to say -- all I've got is a dog!)

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