At the homestead, we pride ourselves on our larder. It’s filled with summer’s bounty, and just seeing it everyday inspires me to plot more canning and salting and curing and pickling and fermenting projects.
I don’t feel the same way about our spice area, friends. Seeing our spice area makes we wanna go lay on the couch and watch teevee. Granted, I usually wanna do just that, but I especially can’t fight the urge when I look at this mess.
See, I call it a spice area for a reason. It’s not a rack. It’s more like a pile.
Don’t get me wrong, we have some great spices, if you can find them. Dried limes for Persian food? Check! Fenugreek? Yep! Asofetida? You know it! Greek oregano AND Italian oregano: of course! Allspice, juniper berries, caraway, 7 different meat rubs, Chinese 5 spice, pink peppercorns. Heck yes! You name it, we got it. Part of the reason I joined the Spice Rack Challenge that’s being put on by Mother’s Kitchen blog was to get my pretty awesome collection of spices in order. I buy them in pretty much any city I’m in. Here’s me this past summer in St. Louis, at the awesome spice shop in Soulard Market.
Lucky for me, this month’s challenge was rosemary and I have that growing (albeit limply) outside.
Anyway, I can put off the Great Spice Rack Organization Endeavor until next month. Stay tuned for new and improved spice rack/spice shelf/slightly more organized spice pile pics next month, I hope!
Anyway, this month’s challenge is rosemary. I was drawn to this challenge as a blogger because it seemed easier than other challenges I’ve been a part of thus far. I didn’t need to can anything and stand around in stream burning my hands on lids. I didn’t need to pickle anything and thus wait for weeks to see if it was a success or failure. I could make anything I wanted with rosemary! I was batting around orange rosemary syrup for french toast, rosemary infused vodka, oven baked rosemary potato chips, and the like. Thanks, rosemary!
Speaking of, my love does grow where my rosemary goes, and indeed, nobody knows but me. Or maybe vice versa.
But it’s time to actually get to my recipe. To get you in the mood, here’s George Clooney’s aunt, the awesome Rosemary Clooney, to get us in an Italian state of mind.
That makes me want some Italian food! I grew up in St. Louis, so nothing says classy/graduationbaptismfirstcommunionwedding like italian food. So I made some focaccia! Dudes, there are a lot of focaccia recipes out there. I had to pick one.
Rosemary Olive Focaccia
Adapted from Epicurious
- 2 cups warm water.
- 2 Tbsp yeast.
- 4 1/4 cups AP or bread flour, plus a few more Tbsp as needed.
- 2 1/2 t. kosher salt, plus more crunchy flaky salt for the top.
- 2 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary. Use more if you have it!
- Olives. I used about 8 kalamata olives for the dough (it was all we had!) and then about 20 green olives (chopped) for the top.
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
1. Pour two cups of warm water into a bowl. Add dry yeast and stir with fork to combine. Let sit until yeast dissolves, which will take about 10 minutes.
2. Add 4 1/4 cups flour and salt to your bowl of yeast and water. Stir first to blend well. Add olives and half of fresh chopped rosemary to dough.
3. Then, you gotta make a choice: hand kneading or using your dough hook in your stand mixer. I chose my Kitchenaid. Knead or mix in mixer for about 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour if dough stays sticky. I had to end up adding about another 5 Tbsp of flour to get rid of the stickiness.
4. Form the dough into a ball and put into a large bowl which you have oiled with some extra virgin olive oil. Put the dough ball into the bowl and turn it around to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise. I created a warm environment by putting our little space heater into a small room with the bowl and closing the door. Let rise about 1 1/2 hours.
5. After 1 1/2 hours, punch down the dough several times, then re-form it into a ball and put it back into the bowl and cover with plastic. Let rise back in a warm place for another 45 minutes. It should double in size again.
6. Punch down the dough again. I saw a lot of good bubbles when I did this. Then, coat a 15 x 10 inch pan (mine was bigger than this but didn’t say the size) with 1 Tbsp of the oil. I also used my slipat. Transfer dough to the oiled pan and press out the dough to cover the pan. Then, let dough rest another 10 minutes.
7. Then, drizzle 2 more Tbsp of olive oil over the dough. Then top it with your choice of toppings. I used another 1 Tbsp of fresh chopped rosemary,about 20 green olives, crunchy flaky salt, and fresh grated parmesan cheese. Go crazy!
I was also thinking of using roasted garlic, carmelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and/or other spices, but I wanted the rosemary to shine, so I stopped myself. I actually think you could use even more rosemary in this recipe. I used 1 Tbsp in the dough and 1 Tbsp on top, and the rosemary was pretty subtle. Add more! After topping your dough, let rise in warm area until puffy, which will take about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 475 F.
8. Finally, press your fingertips all over the dough so that you form indentations. Bake the bread about 20 minutes. I set my timer for 15 minutes just in case, and I’m glad I did because I stopped it at about 19 minutes and it could have maybe used 1-2 minutes less. Serve warm if you can!
We enjoyed the rosemary focaccia with tomato soup that I canned last summer from here, kale salad, and red wine, and the NBC Thursday night comedy block. It was delicious!
Final comments: Use more rosemary than you think. The original recipe called for only 1 Tbsp of fresh rosemary. I used 2 Tbsp and I think maybe 3-4 Tbsp would make it even better. Don’t skimp on the olive oil! Oh, and use the best olive oil you have! Really watch this as it bakes. The recipe called for 20 minutes, but I think it’s more like 15-16 minutes. Be creative in your toppings!
That’s it! I finished the first Spice Rack Challenge, and satisfied my new year’s resolution to bake bread! Yes!