Focaccia with Roasted Squash

Thanksgiving is always a conflict for me on the food front. I want to keep things traditional but yet I want to try new recipes and start new traditions. Last year I was dead set on lamb roast instead of turkey which was a good call. This year my bro-in-law suggested capon to replace the turkey. Capon is just a glorified chicken so yeah, it tasted like a great roast chicken. Appetizers is kind of an area that’s free range on Thanksgiving so I decided to make Foccacia with Roasted Squash inspired by the feature in Food and Wine magazine last month. However when it comes to baking bread I often visit America’s Test Kitchen for a bit more education therefore the recipe below is a hodgepodge of the two.

The process of making focaccia is a bit more arduous then I remember but oh boy does it deliver. Light and airy with tons of flavor and moisture. You could put just about anything on top of focaccia and it would be great.

Stay tuned for my dessert masterpiece.

Focaccia with Roasted Squash

Focaccia with Roasted Squash

Sliced up ready to eat!

Sliced up ready to eat!

Biga

  • 1/2cup (2 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3cup (2 2/3 ounces) warm water (100-110 degrees F)
  • 1/4teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

Dough

Topping

  • Butternut squash
  • Olive oil
  • Thyme
  • Salt

1. FOR THE BIGA: Combine flour, water, and yeast in large bowl and stir with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature (about 70 degrees) overnight (at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.) Use immediately or store in refrigerator for up to 3 days (allow to stand at room temperature 30 minutes before proceeding with recipe.)

2. FOR THE DOUGH: Stir flour, water, and yeast into biga with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 15 minutes.

3. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt over dough; stir into dough until thoroughly incorporated, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 30 minutes. Spray rubber spatula or bowl scraper with nonstick cooking spray; fold partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees; fold again. Turn bowl and fold dough 6 more times (total of 8 turns). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, turning, and rising 2 more times, for total of three 30-minute rises. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking.

4. Gently transfer dough to lightly floured counter. Lightly dust top of dough with flour and divide in half. Shape each piece of dough into 5-inch round by gently tucking under edges. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil each. Sprinkle each pan with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Place round of dough in pan, top side down; slide dough around pan to coat bottom and sides, then flip over. Repeat with second piece of dough. Cover pans with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.

5. Using fingertips, press dough out toward edges of pan. (If dough resists stretching, let it relax for 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.) Using dinner fork, poke surface of dough 25 to 30 times, popping any large bubbles. Spread squash evenly over top and push into dough.Let dough rest until slightly bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes.

6. PREPARE THE TOPPING Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large bowl, toss the squash with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the slices in a single layer on 2 large rimmed baking sheets and roast for about 15 minutes, until tender; let cool completely. Increase the oven temperature to 450°.

7. Gently curl the cooled squash slices and press them into the dough. Brush the focaccia with olive oil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until risen and browned on top. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes.

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Buttermilk Apple Cake

This was a splendid recipe that came out very moist (thank you buttermilk) and was a great compliment to a morning coffee. It’s got a nice presentation too.

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Buttermilk Apple Cake


12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cup sugar, plus 4 tablespoons for topping

2 egg, room temperature

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for topping

1 cup buttermilk

grated zest of 2 large lemons

grated zest of 1 large orange

2 large gala apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease or spray two 9-inch cake pans.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or hand held beaters, beat the butter on medium speed until light and airy. Add sugar, and continue beating until everything is pale and fluffy. Stop mixer as needed to scrape down the sides. Switch mixer back on, and add the egg, followed by the vanilla.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sea salt, and nutmeg.

Switch mixer to low and add half the flour mixture, followed by all of the buttermilk and then the second half of the flour mixture. Add the zest and mix on low just until combined.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Arrange the apple slices in a circle along the outer edge of the pan, so that the slices are set straight down onto the batter. Create a star pattern inside the circle, and add one final slice at the very center. Sprinkle the top with 2 tablespoons sugar and several grates of nutmeg.

Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, or until the top is a light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached.

Set cake aside to cool for a few minutes, then remove from the cake pan. Allow to cool completely.

Set cake aside to cool for a few minutes, then remove the springform side and allow to cool completely.

 

“Top 5 Cookie”: Red Velvet Black & White

“Top 5” he said. My husband, the “cookie connoisseur” said these Red Velvet Black & White cookies were in the all time Top 5 that I’ve made for him. I’d really have to agree. They are soft and moist like red velvet cake and are accompanied by a decadent chocolate topping and a rich cream cheese frosting. They were also described as a “muffin top with icing” that sounded pretty accurate to me.

I brought a dozen to my office to prevent us from eating the full batch ourselves, and my co-workers were raving. I’m still getting high fives after the fact.

The blogger I tweaked this recipe from, Joy The Baker, brought these to a cookie swap with INA GARTEN HERSELF! So you know she was bringing her A-game.

Find recipe in my recipe box here.

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#FoodNetworkStarFinale

I haven’t been watching a whole lot of Food Network lately, (I’ve been binging on Orange is the New Black) but if there is one show I do love it’s the Next Food Network Star. And we’re down to the finale so it’s only a few months away that we’ll be seeing a show from our favorite food network star get pulled from the cable line up. Sandwich King? Rebel Chef? What happened to those guys?

Either way – my vote goes to DAMARIS! Despite the unusual name, I really like her. Is “Damaris” a southern thing I don’t know about? I was so curious I googlized it and found that the name meant “heifer” and “drunkard”. Hmm, we have more in common than I thought.

Well she’s a real charming gal, with a great sense of humor. Anyone who makes me laugh is a winner in my book. I must admit, I was also very intrigued by her recipe in the second to last episode. Sweet Potato Biscuits with Peppered Pork Loin, Apple Mustard Butter and Salad.

Good luck Damaris!

Damaris Phillips

Damaris Phillips

Cronuts for days

A few weekends ago my hubs and his long time friend Mike decided they wanted to make the infamous Cronuts. (Read more about the croissant/donut craze here) Mike, who is his own culinary star among friends, had already dominated this magical pastry but wanted to drop some bakery knowledge on us. Here are the men at work. (Love men in the kitchen)

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After 7-8 hours of attentive kneading and caressing we had cronuts! Time to hit the fryer.

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Mike’s choice sides were chocolate ganache, bacon syrup, maple glaze and the winner of the night – guava and cheese. Can you blame us Miami folk?

photo[5]It was really a sensational dessert. I felt like I was having a one-of-a-kind experience that some wait 2-3 hours for – and we made more than the 2 allotted from famed Dominique Ansel. Pfffft. Take that!

If you want to stick it to the pastry man, try it for yourself. This is the recipe we used here.

Chicken Tikka Masala

I was craving Indian food recently and since there are nearly no options for good Indian in South Beach I decided to cook something up myself. Chicken Tikka Masala seemed like a good starter recipe. Simple ingredients you can find at a local supermarket and preparing the sauce a day early definitely helped.

I went with a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen since for me, they are always fail proof. Flavors were great and I think the only adjustment I would make is to turn up the heat, but that’s just my preference.

Recipe c/o America's Test Kitchen

Recipe c/o America's Test Kitchen