Make This Garden Art Focaccia Bread That Simply Inspires

Make This Garden Art Focaccia Bread That Simply Inspires

Easy Garden Art Focaccia Bread Recipe – Farmer’s Market Edition!

This garden bread art recipe was inspired by traditional Azerbaijani outdoor cooking and my love for all things fresh from the Farmer’s Market! Join me as I revisit my focaccia bread that first appeared in “Canvas and Cuisine: The Art of the Fresh Market” 

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Sometimes inspiration just hits! For me it started with the Azerbaijan cooking vlogs that constantly show up in my Facebook feed. 

I used to look forward to seeing friends and kids of friends and grandkids of friends. 

Now, I peer into the screen waiting to see my adorable Azerbaijan friends as they emerge through the green door of their tiny house to forage through the woods, harvesting as they go. 

The only sounds you hear are the rustling of leaves and chirping birds. He throws down a metal pan, slices some logs and before you know it there is a working oven in the middle of a field or by the side of a stream or at the top of a ridge!

She uses a clever wooden board to chop everything from onions to a whole leg of lamb. He makes tea out of the flowers he picks as he passes the field. 

I’m inspired by everything that they cook – always outdoors and always on an open fire. But what gets me the most is how she (Lord, I wish I knew her name) bakes bread at almost every meal using nothing but her hands and a covered skillet. 

It’s amazing! 

And even more, it makes me crave fresh baked bread almost daily. 

Let’s face it…I have every modern tool known to man starting with electricity and ending with a machine fitted with a dough hook and still, I find bread making to be daunting.

I’m over it! If my Azerbaijan friend can bake gloriously delicious-looking bread over an open fire, then I can certainly take my bread baking to a new level using my state of the art kitchen. Right?

I have a really good recipe for focaccia bread in my book “Canvas and Cuisine: Art of the Fresh Market”.

The dough comes together quickly and rises when requested. It bakes in about 15 minutes and has just enough crumb to distinguish itself from flatbread. It’s my go-to bread recipe, so I decided that my focaccia dough would be my canvas.

My morning trip to the Farmer’s market yielded all sorts of treasurers. I purchased peppers and multi-colored carrots. I gathered my favorite purple-green tomatoes and all sorts of herbs. When I laid out all of these, I saw my plan come together. I would create a flower garden using veggies and herbs to decorate my bread. I would make my Azerbaijan friend proud! 

It’s all in the planning, so I laid out my design on parchment paper while the bread was rising. This was the smartest thing that I did, because I could change things around on paper that I would have been stuck with when placed on the bread dough.

I used red onions for flower petals and chives for stems. I sliced the carrots using my mandoline and cut olives, red cherry bomb peppers and grape tomatoes into thin slices. Sage and parsley leaves pulled everything together and my flower garden was born.

In the end, it worked like a charm and my pals oohed and awed at the results. I must admit I was pretty impressed with myself!

My Azerbaijan friend started me on this journey. (I feel I have more to come!!) The Farmer’s market furthered my vision.

And here’s my take from this experience. Inspiration can be found anywhere; you just have to open your eyes. 

What’s going to inspire you this week??

Garden Art Focaccia Bread Recipe

 

Servings

6 – 8

Ready In:

20 Minutes plus a few hours for bread to rise

Good For:

Appetizer, Brunch

INGREDIENTS FOR GARDEN ART FOCACCIA BREAD

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 ¾ cups warm water

5 cups unbleached all-purpose

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 cup olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon dried thyme 

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Tried it? Tag it!

I would love to see what you did with this recipe.  Share your creation by tagging #inthekitchenwithjorj and with Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj, my free private home cooking group.

DIRECTIONS FOR GARDEN ART FOCACCIA BREAD

Place the yeast and sugar into a small bowl. Stir in the warm water. Place the bowl in a warm place until the yeast is bubbling and fragrant, about 15 minutes. I use the proof setting on my warming drawer for this.

Use an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook to combine the flour, salt, ½ cup of olive oil and the yeast to form a dough. Once the dough comes together, continue to knead the dough in the machine until smooth. Stop the machine and check the dough every couple of minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic, hold its shape around the dough hook and spring back when you indent it with your finger. This takes anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes using the mixer. If you are kneading by hand, knead until you can’t knead anymore!

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead it by hand for an additional 30 seconds. If the dough is too sticky, you can sprinkle with additional flour. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil. Cover and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. I use my warming drawer for this step, too.

Pour the remaining cup of olive oil onto a 12 ½ x 17 ½ x 1-inch jelly roll pan. Transfer the dough to the pan, stretching it out to fill the pan. Turn and coat with oil on both sides. Use your finger to poke indentations into the dough. These will be the “nooks and crannies” to hold the seasoning in the next step. Place the dough in a warm place to rise again, for 1 hour. Yep, the warming drawer is still the best place!

Preheat the oven to 400°. Transfer the pan from its warm place. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, sea salt, thyme, and rosemary. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Bake until the top of the bread is golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan before cutting into squares.

Get on BOARD With This Charcuterie: Tuna Steak Nachos

Get on BOARD With This Charcuterie: Tuna Steak Nachos

Mix and match your guests’ favorite meats, treats, and cheeses and never be bored with your charcuterie board! Start with these Tuna Nachos, perfect for tailgating at home. Click to skip to the recipe

 

There are lots of reasons to entertain family and friends these days, as long as your family and friends have maintained their social distance while trying to live their lives amid craziness!

We’re all living in our reduced social circles these days, but that still leaves us room to gather safely. And gather, we do!

One of my favorite ways to entertain is to set out individual bites onto a lovely charcuterie board.

Now, by its very definition, a charcuterie board is made up of prepared, cured meats (usually pork) and varieties of cheeses.

The very word charcuterie comes from the French words chair (flesh) and cuit (cooked).

But meat and cheese can be boring, so I veer towards combining charcuterie with an antipasti platter. Olives and pickled veggies are so yum.

But then I have a couple of crudité tray ideas and well, before you no it, I create a board full of appetizers that is unlike any other.

Just like I like it!

My recent board was created for my fellow book club pals. It was packed full of individual appys that by themselves would be perfect for a first-course nibble, but when combined could serve a crowd for a cocktail party or game day (stay-at-home) tailgate party.

The appys assembled on my board included roasted shrimp on a stick, chunks of Parmesan cheese, whole roasted garlic, salami and cream cheese “flowers”, margarita sausage on baguettes with lime mustard, gouda and sun-dried tomato “pimento” cheese with candied bacon, hummus and Parmesan stuffed tomatoes and the fan-favorite, seared tuna nachos with roasted garlic cream.

Whew! Sounds like a lot and it was…..but it was also FUN to prepare and wonderful to watch as they were devoured in no time.

Whether you prepare your own fan-favorite appys or arrange store-bought (and there are tons of them) items on your board, the secret is to be surprising. Mix and match your favorites and be creative with your choices. After all, you never want to be bored with your board!!

Seared Tuna Nachos with Roasted Garlic Cream

These nachos are a big hit. You can easily make them in advance, and they look divine on your appy board.

Ingredients

For tuna:

1 (8-ounce) tuna steak:

½ cup rice wine vinegar

4 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

4 green onions, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)

1 (1-inch piece) ginger, grated

1 tablespoon olive oil

For roasted garlic cream:

Cloves from 2 whole heads roasted garlic, about ¼ cup, mashed

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup heavy cream

Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

For nachos:

Large, sturdy tortilla chips

2 cups tender green leave, washed, dried and thinly julienned (I used frisee, baby kale and butter lettuce leaves)

Serves:   A Crowd

Time:   60-Minute Cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Place the tuna steaks into a shallow dish. Whisk together the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, onion, and ginger.  Reserve 2 tablespoons of the marinade.  Pour the rest over the tuna steak.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours in the fridge.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Remove the tuna from the marinade.  Shake off the excess.  Sear the tuna in the skillet turning once, about 2 to 3 minutes per side for very rare.  Remove the tuna to the freezer and chill for 5 to 10 minutes.

Place the roasted garlic cloves, sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine into a smooth thick cream. Season with salt and pepper. The cream should be thin enough to drizzle.  Pour into a squeeze bottle and set aside.

Place the tortilla chips on a platter. Toss the greens with the reserved marinade.  Place several shreds of lettuce over the tortilla chips.

Remove the tuna from the freezer.  Use a very sharp knife to cut very thin slices (across the grain) of seared tuna.  Place 1 to 2 slices (depending on how thin you can cut) onto each chip.  Drizzle with garlic cream. 

 

Party Ready Croquettes!

Party Ready Croquettes!

One of my favorite appys on the menu at my local Cuban restaurant is the lightly breaded, fried béchamel fritter platter; it’s studded with salty, smoked ham called Croquetas de jamón. Unlike their Southern cousin the hush puppy, these little delicacies are way too delicious to give to the dog. These croquettes are terrific with a glass of dry white wine or with a beer during the big game!

They are easier to make than you think and, better yet, you can prepare them all the way to the frying stage, then freeze them for later use. In my catering days, we used to have whole days dedicated to making ahead and freezable appys, so that we could “grab and go” on the way to client parties.

Start by making a rich white custardy béchamel sauce. Add some smoked ham, and then chill the mixture in the fridge. Mold the chilled mixture into small cylinders and then bread them. Before serving, heat up the oil and fry them to a golden brown. It only takes a minute or two. The crunchy outside leads to a melty inside. Add a spicy sauce, and you have an appy everyone will enjoy.

 

Shhh! I snuck a few veggies in these fab meatballs...

Traditional fried croquette with glass of beer on a wooden table.

Croquetas de Jamón

Serves a crowd

45 Minute Cuisine plus chilling

If you are looking for a make-ahead appy that freezes well, you have come to the right place! These creamy croquettes are simple to make and delicious to eat.

8 ounces smoked ham

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground oregano

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 tablespoons butter

½ small yellow onion, peeled and chopped

1 cup milk, room temperature

1 tablespoon dry sherry

4 ounces manchego cheese

Spicy aioli sauce

Place the ham in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to finely dice.

Whisk together the flour, parsley, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and nutmeg.

Cook the onion in the butter, in a deep saucepot over medium-high heat until soft, about 2 minutes. Whisk the flour into the butter and onions and cook until bubbly, about 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the milk and sherry. Continue to whisk until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cheese until thoroughly melted. Stir in the diced ham. Pour this béchamel into a baking dish and chill for at least four hours.

To form the croquettes, use a 1-inch ice cream scoop to form a ball of béchamel. Form this ball into a small cylinder and place it onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue until all the béchamel is used. Transfer the cylinders to the refrigerator. Make a dipping station by whisking together two large eggs in a shallow bowl. Pour bread crumbs into a second bowl. Use a spoon to gently roll 1 cylinder in the beaten egg. Then roll in bread crumbs and place them back onto the baking sheet. Chill (or freeze) until you are ready to fry the croquettes.

Heat vegetable oil in a fryer, or deep pot to 375°degrees. Make sure that you use only enough oil to come ⅓ up the side of the pot, as the oil will bubble up when you fry the croquettes. Place several croquettes into the hot oil. Use a slotted spoon to gently turn the croquettes in the oil. Cook until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the croquettes to a paper towel-lined baking dish. Serve with a spicy aioli sauce.

Cook’s Tip

You can make a spicy aioli sauce by combining mayonnaise with a drizzle of hot adobo sauce. Simpler still, try some of the new Marzetti Simply Dressed salad dressings in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Their Siracha Ranch is perfect for these croquettes.

Tapas Crawl Dinner Party!

Tapas Crawl Dinner Party!

Shhh! I snuck a few veggies in these fab meatballs...

close-up view of wide variety of Tapas in restaurant at spain

One of the coolest outings we arranged was on a family trip to Madrid; it was a tapas crawl! Our guide met us at our hotel and then took us on a walking tour of the local bars and pubs. We sampled small plates of paella, shellfish, specialty croquettes, and rich tomato soups, both hot and cold. We ended the evening at a coffee shop that served warmed churros directly from the fryer to the middle of your table, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and accompanied by a rich, deep chocolate sauce for dipping. To say the evening was yummy would be one of the biggest underestimates of the century!

For a recent dinner party, I decided to incorporate the tapas theme into the evening. My BIG plan is to think SMALL! Small plates that is. Rather than a soup to the nuts four-course menu, think small plates all the way through the meal.

I started the meal with an antipasti plate that included plums wrapped with prosciutto. The specialty drink was Sangria, which blended a bottle of dry red wine with brandy, triple sec, lemon and orange juices, and ginger ale.

 

The secret to a successful small plate dinner party, is to have the plates stacked for each item, and the food prepped and ready to go. The rest of the meal went like this: Croquets de Jamon, which is a fried ham and béchamel croquette, served with a dipping sauce of spicy aioli. Chilled gazpacho shooters served in juice glasses came next. A small dish of garlicky shrimp and shishito peppers followed the soup. In place of traditional paella, my Americanized version was made with shredded chili roasted short ribs, peas, and Portobello mushrooms. The final small plate presented warm churros with individual small bowls of chocolate sauce for dipping. Hungry yet?! If any of these tapas ring your bell, let me know. I have the recipes!

 

I canvassed my guests, and by far the favorite dish of the evening was the shrimp. It’s not only terrific as a small plate, but it’s also an easy, one-pan meal that is perfect for a busy weeknight dinner. Shishito peppers are only in season for a short time, so feel free to substitute with slices of poblano peppers, snow pea pods, green beans or asparagus. They all work well, with the garlicky olive oil and shrimp.

Garlicky Shrimp and Shishito Peppers

Serves 4 as main 6 to 8 as appy

30 Minute Cuisine

Slow cooking garlic in olive oil does double duty. The oil becomes fragrant, while the garlic becomes soft and sweet. Add the bite of whole shishito peppers and delicate shrimp, and you have a simple one-pan meal that come together in minutes!

1 whole head garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced, about ½ cup

½ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon paprika

10 to 12 shishito peppers

1 bunch green onions, tops removed, halved, and cut into 3-inch pieces

1 pound fresh extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined, about 26 to 30

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and paprika and cook until soft, and just beginning to turn golden on the edges. Be careful not to burn the garlic! Add peppers, green onions, and shrimp to the pan. Turn up the heat to medium-high. Toss the veggies and shrimp in the garlicky oil, until the shrimp turn pink and are cooked for about 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Game Day Dip!

Game Day Dip!

I’m not sure if I love football because of the game or the food. After being a Miami Dolphin fan for over 40 years, it’s safe to say a majority of these past seasons, the football food has been the highpoint!

You know I love Buffalo wings, mostly because I’m addicted to hot sauce! You’ve seen my recipes for wings and recently for Sweet Potato Fries with Buffalo Chicken. But, sometimes, you need a hot dip, and you need it now! This recipe fills the bill. There are tons of versions of Hot Buffalo Wing Dip, so use this as a guideline to make the one you like best. The ingredients that make this dip so perfect for me is Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. There’s just something about this that is super spicy but not hurtful! I use deli chicken as a shortcut, but you can use leftover chicken if you have it. Boar’s Head has a Blazing Buffalo chicken that just adds a little bit of somethin’ somethin’ to the dip, and Fritos corn chips bring the whole experience to critical addiction levels!

Look at all these fixins going into the dip. YUM! Now you’re ready to make this awesome recipe. GOOOOOOOOO Dolphins!

Hot Buffalo Wing Dip

Serves a Crowd

15 Minute Cuisine

Ok. There are about a hundred versions of this dip, but the one thing they all have in common is that the end result is gooey, Buffalo spiced and incredibly addicting!

2 tablespoons butter

4 ounces spicy deli chicken (I like Publix Blazing Buffalo Chicken breast), diced

1 small white onion, peeled and diced

4 celery ribs, sliced thin

2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese

4 ounces, grated sharp cheddar cheese, 1 cup

4 ounces hot pepper sauce (Frank’s Red Hot is my choice!!), more if you are crazy

Corn chips for dipping (Fritos or Scoops are the best)

Heat the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the chicken, onion and celery ribs to the pan. Cook until the veggies are soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cream cheese to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and stir to soften. Add the cheddar cheese and hot pepper sauce. Keep stirring until everything is melted together.

Cook’s Tip

At this point you are ready to dig in. However, you can pour the dip into a baking dish and keep warm in the oven until kick off.