Foccacia is essentially a large slab of bread baked with lots of savoury Mediterranean flavours both in and out of the dough. Herbs, cheese, olives. Tasty.
Yield: Makes 4-6 servings
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
3 cups all purpose or bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
24 calamata style black olives, pitted
Pour the water into the bowl of a stand up mixer fitted with a dough hook and sprinkle in the yeast. Add 1 cup of the flour and the sugar then stir to combine. Let rest for ten minutes or so, until the yeast activates and bubbles appear on surface.
Add the rest of the flour, salt, olive oil, pepper, thyme and olives and mix well until dough begins to form a ball. Continue kneading for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a large, oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and rest in a warm place until the dough doubles, about 1 hour.
Lightly oil your hands then knock down the dough, pressing the air out of it. Knead a few times and then place dough onto an oiled baking sheet. Pull and press dough across pan until if forms a large, flattened circle and vigorously poke dimples into it with your fingertips. Drizzle with olive oil, coarse salt and pepper and let rise a second time until it doubles again, about 30 minutes.
While you wait preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place in oven and bake until it has formed a golden crust, but is still soft in the centre, about 10-15 minutes.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wuh) is one of the healthiest foods on the planet, and packed with vitamins, minerals and protein. It’s actually a seed not a grain, but it’s cooked like a grain. The rich nutty taste is perfect in a pilaf, but it’s just as good stirred into any salad. Because of its flavour, ease of cooking and high nutritional value, quinoa is one of the most common foods on my table.
A bowl full of freshly made corn polenta is one of the world’s great grain dishes. Polenta is a traditional Italian pudding thickened with cornmeal. Freshly made, it has a soft, creamy, addictively delicious texture. It can also be served by cooling and hardening it, then slicing it and grilling or pan-searing it until it forms a beautiful crispy crust with a creamy interior.