Focaccia

Yoo-hoo? Anyone out there?

Soooo… I totally disappeared. I’m sorry :(

I don’t really have an explanation for what happened. I returned from California, have tried to get back into my old routine, and for some reason I just wasn’t feeling it. I’ve been feeling mentally and physically groggy.

Not to worry though :) I’ve been feeling a bit better and I plan on getting back on track very soon.

 

Focaccia has been on my Baking Wishlist for quite some time now, and I’ve finally stumbled upon a recipe that is, in my opinion, perfect. You see, I have a history with Focaccia. When my husband and I were newly married, we used to frequent this restaurant in Detroit, and they would always serve a slice focaccia with a side of house-made marinara dipping sauce before the main course or appetizers.

I’ve used an Anne Burrell recipe and the only thing I’ve tweaked is that I’ve added minced garlic and rosemary inside and on top of the bread, you know, so it’s just like our favorite little restaurant :) (oh, and I also like to serve it with my favorite marinara sauce!)

 

FocacciaPic

Focaccia

Yield: 8 – 10 Servings

Ingredients:

For Bread:

  • 1 ¾ cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

For Topping:

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary

Directions:

Combine water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and set aside until frothy, about 15 minutes.

To the yeast mixture, add all-purpose flour, oil, salt, rosemary, and minced garlic. Knead on low speed until the dough comes together, then increase speed to medium and knead until soft and smooth, about 5 minutes. If dough seems sticky, add a sprinkling of flour.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand a few times. Lightly oil the bowl used for kneading, and transfer the dough back to it. Turn the dough to coat with oil, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside until the dough has doubled in volume, at least one hour.

Coat a jelly roll pan with the olive oil reserved for topping. Punch down the dough and transfer it to the prepared pan. Using fingers, stretch dough out to fit the pan. Turn the dough over to coat the other side. Top with remaining minced garlic and rosemary. Continue to stretch the dough out so that it fills the pan. Set pan aside and allow the dough to rise until doubled, about one hour.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Bake the focaccia until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool before slicing and serving.

Marinara Sauce

I’ve been on the lookout for a homemade Marinara recipe for a really long time.  I’ve been slowly trying to incorporate more homemade pantry staples (although this recipe uses canned crushed tomatoes… you win some, you lose some, right?) and I’ve finally found a red sauce that I can call the sauce.  This recipe is very easy to whip up, and it is wonderful used as a dip (a recipe for focaccia, where I use this sauce as a dip, is coming very soon), as a pasta sauce, and even as a base for pizza. Another great thing about this marinara sauce is that it freezes wonderfully! I made a large batch and froze individual jars of sauce for later use.  Whenever I needed some, I simply left it out of the counter for a few hours, and voilà!  Marinara at your service :)   MarinaraPic

Marinara Sauce

Yield: 3 Cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • ¾ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar

Directions: Heat oil in a large vessel over medium heat until hot and rippling. Add onions and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add carrots, salt, and pepper, and cook until the vegetables are slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, and bay leaf, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally, until thickened and the vegetables are completely tender. Stir in butter and brown sugar. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Remove and discard bay leaf. Using an immersion blender or food processor, blend the sauce until smooth.

Churros

 

A few weeks ago my friends and I got together for a fun filled Latin inspired luncheon. I prepared Chicken Enchiladas, one of my friend’s made delicious Spanish Rice and Spiced Black Beans.

After we ate, we set out to make our very own Churros!

Oh.Em.Gee Peopleeee! These are SO EASY AND SO FREAKING DELICIOUS!

You basically whip up a choux pastry batter, fry it to golden deliciousness, and then toss it in the stuff dreams are made of cinnamon sugar.

See? Easy as 1, 2, 3 :)

 

ChurrosPic

 

Churros

Yield: 4 – 6 Servings

Ingredients:

For Cinnamon Sugar Coating:

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar

For Churro Batter:

  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • Oil, for deep frying

Directions:

Make Coating:

Combine cinnamon and sugar in a large tray and set aside.

Make Batter:

In a medium saucepan, combine salt, sugar, butter, and milk and cook over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the all-purpose flour and whisk to combine. Switch over to a wooden spoon or spatula, and cook until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and the dough becomes shiny, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and cool for a few minutes. Using a mixer, add eggs one at time, making sure to beat each one in completely before adding the next.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a closed star tip and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat oil for deep-frying over medium heat. Once thoroughly heated, pipe batter into oil in desired shapes. Fry for several minutes, turning often to ensure even browning. Once golden brown, remove the churros from the oil and blot them on a paper-towel lined tray for a few seconds, then toss in the prepared coating.

Serve warm.

Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container.

 

(Recipe adapted from Anne Burrell)

Cookies ‘n Cream Rice Krispie Treats

Asiya posted this Cookies and Cream Rice Krispies recipe a while back, and I had filed it away in my mental “must-make” file. I first made the recipe, adapting it to use regular marshmallows, several months ago to mind-blowing results. Since then, I’ve made it a number of times, each time better than the last. This is a wonderful recipe to whip up in a jiffy, and it’s also one that kids enjoy helping out with :)

 

CookiesAndCreamRiceKrispieTreatsPic

 

Cookies ‘n Cream Rice Krispie Treats

Yield: 1 Large Tray

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 20 chocolate sandwich cookies (12 coarsely chopped for filling, 8 coarsely chopped or ground for topping)
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1 (200-250 gram) package marshmallows
  • ½ to 1 cup (according to preference) white chocolate chips

Directions:

Depending on how thick or thin you prefer your rice krispie treats, set aside a greased 9”x13” or 8”x11” baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine cookies for filling and cereal.

In a large nonstick vessel, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add marshmallows and melt completely. Slowly add the melted marshmallows to the cereal and mix completely. Transfer to greased baking dish and spread out the mixture evenly. Lightly press down.

In a double broiler, melt the white chocolate chips. Spread melted chocolate over the rice krispies evenly. Lightly press the remaining chocolate sandwich cookies over the melted chocolate. Refrigerate for a few minutes, to harden the chocolate.

Cut into squares and serve.

Can be kept at room temperature.

Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce

Do you remember how I mentioned that I made an ice cream bar for Zuni’s birthday party back in May?  Well, this Vanilla Bean Caramel was one of the components of said bar.  I used the basic recipe from my trusted ice cream source, The Perfect Scoop, and added a vanilla bean to take it over the top (much thanks to Annie’s Eats for the idea!).  The result is a luscious sauce that is amazing poured over ice cream, stirred into coffee, used sandwiched between cookies, and even eaten directly from the jar (hey, don’t look this way, it was just a suggestion) ;)

 

VanillaBeanCaramelPic

 

Vanilla Bean Caramel

Yield: 1 ½ Cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Directions:

Spread sugar evenly at the bottom of a large saucepan. Place over medium-low heat. When the sugar begins to liquefy around the edges, use a heatproof spatula to gently stir it towards the center. Continue stirring very gently until all of the sugar has melted, making sure not to over-stir.

Measure out the heavy whipping cream into a small bowl, and scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into it. Add the bean itself to the cream as well. Set aside.

Once the caramel reaches a deep amber color, immediately remove from heat. Whisk in half of the cream mixture, making sure to work carefully as the caramel will bubbly and steam violently. Once the cream has been incorporated, stir in the remaining cream and mix well. Stir in vanilla and salt. If any sugar has hardened, place the saucepan over low heat and stir until smooth.

When cooled, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The vanilla bean can stay in the caramel or be thrown away, according to preference.