Breads and Muffins, Sandwiches, Vegetarian

Nothin’ Says Lovin’ like Focaccia in the Oven

The last two weekends, I have catered weddings. They were both beautiful outdoor extravaganzas, with lovely weather (sunny and breezy), and both took place in gorgeous rural settings. These were hands-on weddings, planned by creative people that really put their heart and soul into putting on a wonderful celebration for their friends and families. Both were breathtaking.
Sometimes in the scramble to get the food ready and to the wedding, I forget that someone is really getting married. Then poof!, the stunning bride appears in her gown. It always takes me by surprise, the power of the idea of a true love promised to last forever. The families, the cake, the kids, the food, the dresses, just the amazing effort of creating a memory. I am always overcome.
Congratulations Candice and Jeremy and Shasta and Patrick!
So I thought I’d provide a couple fun party recipes from these celebrations. Both use a wonderful no-knead focaccia dough. It is amazing and flexible, easy-peasy and impressive. In the first recipe, the dough is baked thick so it can be split and stuffed. In the second, it makes a great thin pizza crust.

Roasted Vegetable Focaccia Bites (We make these all the time, but made up miniature for Candice and Jeremy’s wedding, these were a big hit!)

Makes 32 mini sandwiches, or 12 lunch size sandwiches

Focaccia Bread (adapted from Suzanne Dunaway’s No Need to Knead Bread Book)

2 cups Warm Water
2 teaspoons Yeast
4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (or use part Whole Wheat Flour)
1 tablespoon Salt (I use Sifto Kosher Salt at home)
3 tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
2 teaspoons dried Rosemary or 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

Sprinkle the yeast over the water in a large bowl. After five minutes, add the salt, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 2 cups of the flour. Stir until smooth, then add the rest of the flour. Stir with a large spoon for two minutes until the dough is smooth and flour is incorporated. The dough will be very sticky. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until doubled in volume, 45 minutes to an hour. Preheat the oven to 500. Oil a 13×18 baking sheet and ease the dough with a scraper onto the middle of it. With oiled fingers, gently spread the dough into a large oval. Let rest for five minutes, then evenly push the dough to fill the pan. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with the rosemary. Place the pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 450. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool in the pan, then cut in half.

Sundried Tomato Mayonnaise:

¼ cup Sun-dried Tomatoes, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
1 clove Garlic
¼ teaspoon Salt
2 tablespoons chopped Parsley
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until fairly smooth.

Roasted Vegetables:

1 bulb Garlic, top ¼ inch cut off and wrapped whole in foil
4 large Carrots, peeled and cut into thick strips
1 Red Onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 Yellow Onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 bulb Fennel, tops removed and cut into thin slices
1 Red Pepper, seeded and cut into ¼ inch slices
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon Salt
Preheat oven to 400. Combine carrots and onions in 13×18 pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt, then toss the vegetables until coated. Nestle the garlic packet in the vegetables, and place in oven. Roast until vegetables begin to soften and brown, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Add the fennel and red pepper and stir to coat with the oil. Continue to roast another 25 minutes, stirring occasionally so the vegetables around the sides of the pan don’t burn. Vegetables should be tender and browned. Remove the vegetables to a large bowl, and let the garlic cool. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin into a small bowl. Mash and add the balsamic vinegar, then stir this into the vegetables.

Assemble the Sandwiches:
Split each Focaccia piece horizontally. Spread the bottom and top generously with the sun-dried tomato mayonnaise and layer with roasted vegetables, then the top of the Focaccia. Cut each sandwich into 16 pieces.
You can try adding grilled pork tenderloin or chicken breast for a more substantial sandwich. These are perfect as is, but you can grill them in a panini press with or without mozzarella, too. The vegetables will keep about a week in the fridge and make a great side dish or addition to any pasta recipe.

Spinach and Tomato Pizza
These can be cut into mini wedges after cooling a bit, then arranged on a tray and served at room temperature.

1 recipe Focaccia Dough
2 C. Tomato Sauce (your favourite homemade or bottled)
1 lb. Spinach, trimmed and chopped
3 large Tomatoes, diced
4 C. Shredded Mozzarella
4 fat cloves Garlic, minced

Make the focaccia as described above, but divide between two pans. This will take a little more patience and coaxing, but it will work! Preheat the oven to 425. Spread the dough with the tomato sauce. Layer on the spinach, then the tomatoes, then the cheese. Sprinkle with the garlic. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and browned.