Monday, September 30, 2013

Reposting a Keeper: Grape Focaccia

I first discovered the recipe for Grape Focaccia in March 2012. I've made it at least a dozen times since, sometimes as is, and other times, I swap out the grapes, pine nuts, and rosemary, and use whatever I think sounds good: like tarragon, cardamom with blood orange-infused olive oil, or citrusy, marinated olives and Herbes de Provence and zero sugar.
No matter what goes into it, the focaccia always comes out amazing. It's one of those dishes that never fails to impress. It can work as an appetizer or savory dessert, and makes a great companion to a cheese plate or bread basket. So, as you start thinking about your upcoming holiday party menus, put this recipe on your "To Try" list.

It's a keeper.

Grape Focaccia
adapted from The New York Times
Ingredients:
6 TBS extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 TBS fresh rosemary leaves
2 tsps active dry yeast
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup fine cornmeal
5 TBS granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 heaping cups seedless grapes (black or red are my favs for this)
1/2 cup pine nuts
Sea salt (for sprinkling)

Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 3

To Do:
  • Warm the olive oil and half of the rosemary in a small skillet over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool.
  • Place 3/4 cup lukewarm water in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over it, and let stand until it foams, about 5-10 minutes.
  • When yeast is ready, add to it the cooled olive oil/rosemary mixture, the flour, cornmeal, 3 TBS sugar, and 1 1/2 tsp salt. Mix with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.
  • Flour a clean surface, then remove the dough from the bowl and knead about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic -- adding more flour as needed (up to 1/4 cup more), but without drying out the dough. (The NYT recipe gives alternative instructions if you prefer to use a hand mixer, but hand-kneading is pretty easy, so why let the machine have all the fun?)
  • Oil a large bowl, add the now-kneaded dough. Cover the bowl with towel and set in a warm place. Let it rise until the dough has doubled, a little over an hour or so. (It usually doubles anywhere between 60 and 90 minutes for me, depending on how warm the spot is.)
  • About 20-30  minutes before your dough is ready, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a large cookie sheet with olive oil.
  • Punch down the dough, then pat it into the pan, stretching it to a little less than 1/2-inch thick. Don't crowd the pan (dough edges shouldn't touch the pan edges). 
  • Slice the grapes in half if they are large. Then, toss in a medium-sized bowl with the pine nuts, the remaining 2 TBS of sugar, and the rest of the rosemary. 
  • Lightly imprint the dough's surface with your fingertips, then sprinkle the grape, pine nut, sugar and rosemary mixture over the dough, pressing down gently. Sprinkle the sea salt over the dough and drizzle all over with olive oil. (You can be pretty generous with the olive oil.) 
  • Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. (Browning happens quickly -- keep an eye on it!)
  • Let cool slightly, then slice into any size piece you wish, and serve. It's also great right from the pan -- especially for picnics.
Cheers!
xoxo

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