Italian

Breads

Meyer Lemon, Pine Nut + Rosemary Focaccia

Meyer Lemon, Pine Nut + Rosemary Focaccia | www.hungryinlove.com
Meyer Lemon, Pine Nut + Rosemary Focaccia | www.hungryinlove.com

Focaccia! Who doesn't love it? It's like a pillow top mattress you can eat. I'm a lover of all bread but there's something about focaccia that makes it especially irresistible. Oh wait I know what it is - all those pools and puddles of luscious olive oil it's baked in. Before you get too jealous that I have an entire pan sitting before me, know that I'll be compensating this week by forcing myself to take the monster stairs at the Porter Square T stop.

Focaccia is of course Italian but funny enough my most memorable experience with it was in Oaxaca, Mexico. After a week of feasting on tortillas, I stumbled across a European bakery with rows and rows of focaccia studded with all manner of enticing toppings - green olives, black olives, cherry tomatoes, charred onions, fresh cheeses and herbs. I handed the baker my pesos, stepped outside, and ate an entire slab standing right there on the street corner. I don't even remember what kind I chose but I do recall it was crispy and chewy and soft all at once and left my hands glossy with oil. In a word, perfection. So perfect in fact that I doubted I could recreate that magic at home. However I'm here to attest that homemade focaccia is really easy and really, really good. Even if you plan to give it all away to friends it's worth baking for the aroma alone.

Now a word about the Meyer lemons. If you're skeptical about them, don't be! They're delicious rind and all. Meyers are sweeter than regular old lemons and not nearly as sour. They add an unexpected juicy tang that's - warning - highly addictive. My one regret is not scattering them more liberally.

Meyer Lemon, Pine Nut + Rosemary Focaccia | www.hungryinlove.com
Meyer Lemon, Pine Nut + Rosemary Focaccia | www.hungryinlove.com
Mayer Lemon, Pine Nut + Rosemary Focaccia | www.hungryinlove.com

Meyer Lemon, Pine Nut + Rosemary Focaccia

Adapted from this Food Network recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs kosher salt
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 springs rosemary, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 (or 2!) Meyer lemons sliced very thinly
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Prep

  • Combine yeast, water, and honey in a small bowl and let sit in a warm place for at least 15 minutes until it's nice and frothy.
  • In a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook combine flour, yeast mixture, salt, and 1/2 cup of the olive oil on low speed.
  • Continue to knead on low speed (I used the '2' setting on my KitchenAid) for 4-5 minutes; dough will be smooth and sticky.
  • Sprinkle with flour and turn onto smooth surface.
  • Knead a couple times until dough comes together and shape into a ball.
  • Coat the inside of a bowl with olive oil, place dough in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for at least one hour, until dough has doubled in size.
  • After dough has risen you're ready to press into your baking sheet. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil onto baking sheet and then use your hands to stretch dough to fit the pan. Flip dough over once so it's well coated with olive oil on both sides. While you're stretching out the dough use your fingers to poke holes all the way through. This will ensure those classic focaccia dimples.
  • Once your dough has stretched, let sit for one more hour to rise again. Use this time to preheat your oven to 425 degrees and prep your toppings if you haven't already.
  • After an hour your focaccia is ready to bake. Scatter toppings and finish with sea salt.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, until focaccia is golden brown.
  • Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

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Salads

Winter Panzanella + Walnut Vinaigrette

Radicchio + Endive | www.hungryinlove.com
Winter Panzanella | www.hungryinlove.com

If you're looking for more ways to incorporate bread into your diet, panzanella is a great place to start.

Ha! If only I had that problem. In my household it's more like, 'Do you find yourself bringing home every gorgeous loaf of french bread that makes eyes at you? Are you ashamed when you discover you've eaten 3/4 of your baguette in one sitting, slicing little bread coins one after the other and slathering each with butter and sea salt? You had to, right, because tomorrow it will be dry and craggy?' If you're silently nodding your head, then panzanella is your new best friend. It turns your bread habit into a virtuous one. It turns that bread into salad. I understand that in order to be in possession of day-old bread for panzanella you're still going to have to stop yourself from eating fresh bread. No easy feat. But the promise of panzanella (added bonus: really fun to say) is better motivation than scolding yourself for downing too many refined carbs.

My favorite panzanellas are the classic kind full of tomatoes, cukes, and other summery goodness. But seeing as we're six months away from July in every direction,  and my devotion to bread intensifies in due proportion to dropping temperatures,  a winter edition was in order.

Crushed Walnuts | www.hungryinlove.com
Walnut Vinaigrette | www.hungryinlove.com
Radiccho + Endive | www.hungryinlove.com
Panzanella Bread | www.hungryinlove.com

After the bread and a nice, sharp vinaigrette for said bread to sop up, there are no rules. I chose bitter greens, lemony artichokes, and buttery walnuts partly because they look pretty together but mostly because it's what I had on hand. And next time I'll do the same.

Winter Panzanella | www.hungryinlove.com

Winter Panzanella + Walnut Vinaigrette

Serves 2-3

Walnut Vinaigrette

Makes ~1 cup
  • 1/4 unsalted walnuts, toasted
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 
  • Salt + Pepper

Prep

  • Toast walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until aromatic, about 4 minutes
  • In a food processor, pulse walnuts and garlic until finely ground but not a paste
  • Whisk together walnut-garlic mixture, lemon juice, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper
  • Add olive oil in a steady stream while whisking to incorporate
  • For best results, make 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to develop; will keep in fridge up 5 days

Panzanella

  • 1/2 loaf day old crusty bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 3-4 cups)
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 heads radicchio (also called treviso or chicory)
  • 2 heads Belgian endive
  • 1 eight oz. jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped in quarters
  • Handful parsley leaves

Prep

  • Heat oil In a large skillet toast over medium heat for about one minute
  • Add bread cubes and salt
  • Toast bread cubes turning frequently until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes; if things begin to get smoky, reduce heat to low
  • Remove from heat and let bread cool
  • Tear (or chop) radicchio and Belgian endive leaves into small pieces
  • Combine all panzanella ingredients and dress with walnut viniagrette; serve immediately or allow to sit for 15 minutes to allow bread to sop up dressing