Spice Rack Challenge January: Rosemary Focaccia

20 Jan

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.

This is our now disorganized larder. That's a lot of my 2010 canning on the shelves. The middle section is part of the spice pile, which I hope this challenge helps me organize.

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.

Yes, I am drinking a Bloody Mary in a spice market as I pay for my wares. That's how we roll in St. Louis. Oh, and see that wicked scar on my left arm? Canning accident. True story. Seriously.

What to buy? Lots!

Lucky for me, this month’s challenge was rosemary and I have that growing (albeit limply) outside.

I need some tips on making my rosemary grow!

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

Ingredients

  • 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!

My garden owl approves of the amount of rosemary I was able to glean from my piddly-ass rosemary bush...

  • 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.

Stickiness be gone! As you can see, rosemary and olives were integrated into the dough from the beginning.

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.

First go around in the oiled bowl. Oh, they double in size so fast these days, don't they?

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!

Toppings ready! And so was I, to sit down and eat this bad boy and watch Community and Parks and Rec!

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.

Ready to bake!

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!

Done!

Let's eat!

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!

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18 Responses to “Spice Rack Challenge January: Rosemary Focaccia”

  1. growandresist January 21, 2011 at 5:47 PM #

    That looks so fantastic! And certainly a helluva lot better then my decidedly untasty cookies I made! =)
    Yum, with tomato soup!

    • ohbriggsy January 22, 2011 at 10:27 AM #

      thanks friend! yeah, it turned out good AND i made bread! very exciting. would be good too with some of your sun dried tomatoes instead of olives, for the olive haters! sorry your cookies didnt turn out!

  2. Nicole January 21, 2011 at 5:56 PM #

    I love Foccacia, but it always sounds so challenging and time consuming to make myself. This recipe looks fairly straightforward. I might have to give it a try.

    • ohbriggsy January 22, 2011 at 10:30 AM #

      hey! thanks for stopping by! yeah, i thought it would be hard too, but it’s mainly just a lot of waiting, esp of you have a stand mixer. we had the bread again last night dipped in balsamic vinegar and olive oil. delicious! there are a lot of focaccia recipes out there, and i picked this one because it looked easiest. give it a shot!

  3. Kate January 25, 2011 at 9:07 PM #

    I absolutely have to try this. Its on the docket for tomorrow – I might add some garlic that needs to be used up before it all sprouts!

    • ohbriggsy January 26, 2011 at 8:18 AM #

      hey kate! thanks for stopping by! yeah, do try. garlic is a great idea. let me know how it turns out! i’m gonna use the rest of the loaf tonight, to make croutons for a chicken caesar salad. i’ll be adding a lot of garlic, and a little olive oil, red pepper and a squeeze of lemon.

  4. Dean January 27, 2011 at 9:05 PM #

    This sounds delicious and looks fairly easy to make compared to some focaccia recipes I’ve tried that involve hours and hours of rising and dealing with very sticky dough. I’ll have to try this soon.

    • ohbriggsy January 28, 2011 at 2:43 PM #

      Hey Dean! Thanks for reading. Yep, this was an easy one. Especially if you have a stand up mixer. It did get a little dry after almost a week, but then it made perfect croutons for my chicken caesar salad. Good luck!

  5. Steph January 29, 2011 at 4:45 PM #

    Looks amazing. Will have to give that recipe a try; I gave up on foccacia ages ago since I was continually disappointed in it. You’ve inspired me to try again. As for sucessfully growing rosemary? Sunshine and lots of it, water when young, and regular prunings when established has worked for me. I’ve one bush that seems to have a rust of some description, but is coming away with healthy new growth, and a couple of straggly ones that don’t have enough light; they look a little like yours. So I’d suggest a sunnier position if you’ve got it?

  6. fluffybuttfarms January 29, 2011 at 4:53 PM #

    Man, now I want to make focaccia! And I am already plotting what to can this year–I’ve eaten several jars of dilly beans and dill pickles and am not looking forward to the day I run out. So I’ll head it off at the pass by making MORE MORE MORE! 🙂

    • ohbriggsy January 31, 2011 at 1:58 PM #

      hey you should make some! i’m plotting my can plan for 2011 too. what’s on your agenda? i wanna do dilly beans this year–didn’t get around to it last year. and most def more pickles. did you ferment any? i’ve got fermented pickles, refrigerator pickles, and canned pickles, and yes, im having to ration them so i don’t run out before august! and dude, i was just checking out blog. two things: i hate amelie too! i mention it because i think it might be mandatory for people our age to like that movie. what gives!? and two, i’m jealous that you make hard cider! it was my real drink discovery of 2010, and i really cant get enough of the stuff.

      • Ondine March 13, 2011 at 2:39 PM #

        Super late reply! Wow.

        Anyway, I am now down to one jar of dilly beans … sadness! It’s like I don’t want to eat them because it’s the last one, yet I know how good they are so I probably will. (I have little pickle willpower anyway.) I’m thinking this year I’m going to do some strawberry-rhubarb compote, more dilly beans and pickles (sweet and dill this time), and I’m going to try pickled beets, which I love but didn’t try last time around. I also want to graduate to a pressure canner for canning chicken stock.

        I tried fermented pickles using a recipe from (I hate the title) “Nourishing Traditions” but two problems: 1) I don’t even know what they’re supposed to taste like to begin with, so I had little to compare to and 2) mine didn’t ferment well. I think it was too warm and they got all hollowed out and mushy.

        If you were nearer I’d give you some hard cider as I have like 10 gallons of it in the garage and can only drink so much of it 😉 It’s good stuff though. If you want the recipe let me know; it’s super easy.

      • ohbriggsy April 10, 2011 at 8:32 AM #

        really late reply to your late reply! i would love the recipe for the hard cider you make. last week double s and i went to a few cideries here in WA. and in conclusion, I LOVE HARD CIDER! so i’d like to try my hand at it.

        i like your canning plan! i’m gonna up my tomato production, make a lot of pickle (canned, fermented and refrigerated). i’m making pickled beets 3 ways…3 ways!…today, as i recently scored a lot of beets for a good price.

        re fermented pickles, i also used a recipe once from sandor katz, who follows a lot of sally fallon’s/nourishing traditions simple methods. i didnt like the results as much as others ive tried. as summer gets closer, i’ll send you my fermented pickle recipe.

  7. Daisy Driver February 1, 2011 at 7:00 PM #

    Not only was your post a great read, your suggestions in the comments gave me ideas. I think I’m going to try this with my sun dried tomatoes with garlic I canned this summer (refrigerator not shelf stable) and fresh basil. My rosemary never does well, I think I will take Steph’s suggestion and move to a sunnier spot. I haven’t started planning my canning in detail yet but my garden is all plotted out! Now if it would only get warm enough! Patience.

    • ohbriggsy February 2, 2011 at 9:39 PM #

      hey daisy! i’m glad you’re gonna try this with garlic and tomatoes! i almost did, but wanted the rosemary to shine. let me know how it goes! how did you can your garlic? did you pickle it? i love eating the garlic left in my pickle jars! anyway, yep i still have to move my rosemary and focus on just the productive parts. and my garden is planned out too! had to consider all that crop rotation stuff…
      anyway, thanks for stopping by!

      • Daisy Driver February 3, 2011 at 6:22 PM #

        I packed the dried tomatoes in oil with hunks of garlic in it – again, NOT shelf stable, refrigerate or freezes pretty well though. I call them sun dried but I actually dried them in the oven. Oven dried tomatoes don’t sound quite as appetizing!

      • ohbriggsy February 5, 2011 at 1:05 PM #

        that sounds really good, and perfect for the fridge or freezer. i also oven dried mine but call them sun-dried. gotta keep it classy!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Spice Rack Challenge: Black Cardamom Chicken Curry « oh, briggsy… - March 18, 2011

    […] is coordinated by the fine blogga over at Mother’s Kitchen.  So far, I’ve made rosemary focaccia in January, and Persian style rice pilaf with dried limes in […]

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