Monday, December 5, 2011

Rosemary Focaccia with Caramelized Onions and Olives


Focaccia to me, is the best alternative to pizza.  It's practically the same as its pizza counterpart except for the fact that its base is more bread like (similar to Pizza Hut's deep crust) than the average more "compact" pizza crust. The best thing about this bread is it takes a lot less time to prepare than pizza and the chances of screwing it up is slim to none.  Did I mention that it's dirt to cheap to make (once you've invested in a Costco sized Extra Virgin Olive Oil Bottle)? The topping possibilities are endless so it will be easy to tweak this recipe to your liking.  I hope you go nuts with this recipe. I sure did!

*the majority of flavor is derived from Olive Oil
*try splashing or dipping your cooked Focaccia in extra oil or tomato sauce. Or dunk them in ranch dressing or honey mustard.
*alternative topping ideas:  meat bits- cooked sausage, bacon, ham, beef, chicken. Veggies- bell pepper, mushrooms, pineapple, tomato, olives, onions, spinach. Herbs- basil, thyme, rosemary, cilantro. Sauce- Ranch, tomato, BBQ. Cheese- cream cheese, feta, goat, cheddar, fresh mozzarella (cook veggies that take a longer time to cook before placing in oven and add veggies that cook fast halfway through the cooking process to prevent them from burning.  Meat should be cooked before placing in oven as time to cook Focaccia is not long enough to cook meats through.)
*for those living in Grenada, my oven only reaches 300 degrees. This bread is not too sensitive to low uneven heat.
Your know your dough is ready when it holds your finger indentations. If it's not holding, wait a little longer, then try again.
2 1/2 hrs; ~9 servings
Ingredients:

Dough
1 cup warm water (100 degrees)
2 tsp yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 1/2 cup pre-sifted flour (I used Purity)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
cornmeal for dusting

Sauce
8 oz tomato sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tbsp olive oil
dash ground black pepper

Topping
tomato sauce (above)
chopped pitted olives
caramelized onions- 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, 2 garlic cloves, 2 medium onions sliced, salt to taste

Directions
1. In a bowl, mix water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit for 10-15min. This process of "proofing" is done to make sure your yeast is "active, alive," and ready for baking. When the mixture is creamy and foamy, you're ready for step 2.   
2. mix in salt and olive oil
3. add flour and mix to make a uniformed ball of dough (knead for ~5min). be careful not to overwork dough as it will toughen. coat with olive oil.  Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm area (such as a preheated oven turned on for 5 min and then turned off) and let rise for 45min. Dough should double in size.
4.  In a pot, toss in all ingredients for tomato sauce. Stir frequently on medium high heat until sauce thickens (thicker sauce prevents dough from becoming soggy) ~7 min.
5. In a heated fry pan medium high heat, add oil and rosemary.  Swish around for 2 min to infuse oil with flavor.  Add in garlic, onions, and salt.  toss to coat.  add a splash of water and cover with lid. occasionally toss around onions to prevent them from burning. Cook until caramelized. Discard rosemary halfway through.
6.  Lightly grease baking pan.  Dust bottom of pan with a thin layer of corn meal (for a crispy crust).  Take dough ball and flatten in an even layer (note: if you want a thin crust, half dough into 2 and place in two separate pans).  Make many indents in dough with finger. Let sit and rise for another 15min.
7. add toppings and bake for ~45-55min. or until sides have browned a bit. (tip: spread caramelized onions on sides to make crust on sides crispy and golden).

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