Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rosemary Focaccia and Book Giveaway!

You would think I have not cooked or baked anything in the last couple weeks since I've been staying at my son's house watching their 16yr. old sweet Black Lab named Thai whom I thought was still only 13yrs old. She is actually going to be 17, and still going strong...although she is practically deaf, has major cataracts, but is as beautiful and sweet, with a shiny black  hair her tummy totally grey now, and in the best shape ever (meaning she is not overweight)...Family finally came home last night, and I'm so happy that they all had such a great time.
I, in the meantime have been eating at my daughter's house and enjoying company with Fabrizio's young cousins from Italy. Two lovely young girls, ages 18 and 20. Lora and I were taking turns cooking the main meal at lunch time, and also for dinner. I decided to make my favorite rosemary focaccia...with lots of fresh chopped focaccia, homegrown from their little garden. I've been trying to find a decent photo of this, but what difference does it make?...not even trying to get into the Top 9 for Foodbuzz, so "what you see is what you get" is what it is!!!
Sometimes I prefer a nice simple focaccia instead of pizza, because it does take less work and you don't even need a topping other than fresh herbs. The dough is so fresh, the topping is crunchy, and I also added fresh course sea salt on the top before I baked it. I love course sea salt, and also love salted bagels, but have to watch the sodium, because that can bloat you and too much of a "good thing" can harm your health!

Before I continue the rest of this post regarding rosemary focaccia, I would like to offer a very nice and unique book giveaway...another "thrift find" which is by the way a brand new book that I happened to find at my favorite Goodwill store. A few of you have it already a giveaway gift, from other bloggers, so now it's my turn to offer it as a giveaway since I do not bake in small quantities but I did want to get this book for a chance to offer it to someone that really could use it!

You honestly don't have to do a only applies to followers of my blog. Very simple! You have till Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 11:00PM EST. to reply on my blog, and I will use to determine the winner, and will ship ANYWHERE else, outside United States and Canada. Now isn't that a nice offer? So drop me a few lines, and let me know if you're interested in  this wonderful Small-Batch Baking book!

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...and the winner is, Suhaina

Congratulations...I will contact you by e-mail!
Thanks to all of you for your participation, and support!
adapted from Epicurious
Gourmet/March 2002

2(1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Special equipment: a standing electric mixer with paddle attachment and dough hook

Stir together 1 2/3 cups lukewarm (105 to 115°F) water and yeast in bowl of mixer and let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups flour, 1/4 cup oil, and 2 1/2 teaspoons table salt 1 tablespoon of the chopped fresh rosemary, and beat with paddle attachment at medium speed until a dough forms. Replace paddle with dough hook and knead dough at high speed until soft, smooth, and sticky, 3 to 4 minutes.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in 1 to 2 tablespoons more flour. Knead dough 1 minute (it will still be slightly sticky), then transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and turn dough to coat with oil. Let rise, covered with plastic wrap, at warm room temperature, until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Press dough evenly into a generously oiled 15- by 10- by 1-inch baking pan. Let dough rise, covered completely with a kitchen towel, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Stir together rosemary and remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Make shallow indentations all over dough with your fingertips, then brush with rosemary oil, letting it pool in indentations. Sprinkle sea salt evenly over focaccia and bake in middle of oven until golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
Immediately invert a rack over pan and flip focaccia onto rack, then turn right side up. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The only adaptation I did was to added2 envelopes of the dry yeast, equal to 2 Tbsps. I originally had this recipe from my Gourmet magazine of March 2002 issue but it was easier to upload the recipe from Epicurious, and adapting it a little.

Look at these specks of the fresh rosemary right in the, why would you not want to add more of the lovely chopped aromatic fresh rosemary to it?...dough is now turned out unto a board, adding a couple more tablespoons of flour for ease of working it and not sticking to the board.

Now, you are ready to turn dough over in a lightly oiled large bowl, after kneading it for a few minutes longer.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and a dishtowel and  keep it in a draft free, warm place (I just kept it on top of the stove) for 1 1/2 hours.

The result after 1 1/2 hours. It reached all the way to the top of the bowl...this is why I use double amt. of the yeast (2 packets=2 Tbsp)

Now, punch down lightly on the dough, and you are ready to turn it out onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

This is another adaptation of mine; I sprayed the baking pan, lined it with parchment paper, and sprayed the parchment paper with cooking spray. The dough spreads so easily from one end to to other, just stretching it gently. When your dough does that, this is the proof to find out that you will have a perfect dough. Here's another important part. After you stretched the dough cover again with a clean dish towel, and let it rest for an additional 1 hour.

After it rested for an hour just gently poke  little pockets in a form of pattern the way you like, and add the additional chopped rosemary to the reserved olive oil, and brush it on, filling the little pockets as well.

You can brush additional olive oil on it after it bakes to a golden color, because you will be wondering what happened to all the olive oil that was brushed on literally soaks it all up!

Family dinner, on a weekday off with Chef Fabrizio's (son-in-law's) day off to enjoy dinner with family. On the top photo. On the left, Silvia, (with dark hair, Stefania, Lora in the middle, Luca, Fabrizio, and on the right front granddaughter Gabby who will be 10 next month.
I made the baked salmon rubbed with brown sugar, ginger, paprika rub, with a balsamic, honey, lime glaze. Steak, grilled by Fabrizio, and my focaccia, and perfectly ripe diced tomatoes (from Cuban produce market) a red wine vinaigrette, with caper berries, slice thin Spanish onions. Dessert, not shown by daughter, Lora!

Here are some more focaccia links, from the Zemanta program I use, which is a good way to get your blog name out there...use's free, and you will love it as much as I do!

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ziti with fresh Tomatoes, and Zucchini

I still have some photos of my $ 1.00 thrift find bag of mixed vegetable, that I did't get to post about in the last few months. Now, that I'm back and forth to my place from my son's house, I rarely get a chance to do much other than taking care of the pets, (mine, and his)...not much chance for cooking or baking.
Good thing I went to check on my place because I came home to a surprise...a flood of water gushing from my A/C unit ceiling all soaked. Good thing I wasn't sleeping there because I turned the A/C and called the service first thing in the morning.
Really there's no set recipe for this wonderful sauteed mixed zucchini, squash, onions, and blanched chopped fresh tomatoes, served over a pasta of your choice, I used ziti pasta.This is one of my favorite vegetarian pasta dish!
I could easily have at least 3 or 4 vegetarian meals a week...eating something so healthy and delicious like these veggies! When we were kids, growing up in Cleveland in the late fifties and mid sixties, I remember my mom only made a meat dish about once or twice a week on the weekend...everything was prepared in season, and canned for the winter. Homemade breads, rolls, danishes were not an option, it was made regularly, just as homemade noodles. As a nation, we have consumed way too much meats over the decades...time to slow it down a bit and eat what mother nature produces for us!
Last night I did  not feel like doing much, just cleaned out my son's refrigerator, and defrosted one of my pizza crust that I make ahead of time to freeze, thaw out and bake...I  topped it off with caramelized onions, fresh tomato sauce fresh basil leaves and crispy fried and crumbled pancetta...thick sliced chopped bacon is OK to use in place of pancetta. Just because you're spending time alone, does not mean that you cannot treat yourself to something homemade and delicious. If you don't want to make your own dough, you can get fresh bread dough in the bakery section of your supermarket. It's that easy!
Here's the source I used for my pizza dough, since I'm not posting from my home, I didn't have my personal pizza recipe with me. This is an excellent recipe...Epicurious always has the BEST of all the recipes!
Did you ever see such gorgeous clouds in your life?...only in South Florida you get to see the sun going through such a transition...the sun, perching through the clouds in late afternoon that looks like a huge marshmallow, the palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze. (a view from my beach condo apt.) I was leaving to go back across the bridge, just a matter of a 10 min. drive passing through A1A route taking a slow drive, and almost wanting to stop the car to take a few pictures of Rod Stewart's well hidden mansion...but it's just a dream, that I would ever even enter in one of these mansions!

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

LongBoards Restaurant Grand Opening!

First and most important, I would like to express my appreciation to all of you for all you kind comments, and support on my blog, If I have not done the same for you please let me know in e-mail and "chew me out" if I have not been supportive enough, I will try harder!
I am spending most of my days and nights here at my son's, while they are away in NYC, and upstate New York for 2 weeks. I do go home every day as well, to feed my kitties and spend a couple hours with them.
I'm sure they miss me, as I miss them, and things will be back to normal by next week. During the day, I spend my time at Lora's (daughter) who only lives a few blocks away. It's always an adventure with Lora and my much fun. Every day there's always a project...can't alway keep up with them. They ar always on the go. If I would start telling you the day-to-day routine, it would take up an entire post for my blog, so I will share something which is quite unique....instead!
There was a new restaurant opening in downtown West Palm Beach, Florida, a couple weeks ago. I was anxiously waiting to go there with my son, Joe, and wife Cara, and a two buddies of my son. No children allowed becauce it was such a "madhouse" opening, and the place was packed like "sardines"...and why not?
(In the video, those kids must have been the owner's kids.)
 All the appetizers were free, and you were allowed 2 or 3 free drinks. They handed you 2 or 4 genuine sea glass when you entered at the door...that was your token for the drinks that you gave back when they brought you the drinks.
In the meantime, as we arrived in West Palm Beach, there was an old car show right smack in the middle of 
Clematis Road, downtown. They were featuring cars from the fifties and sixties...of course my favorite was a beautiful red Chevy, I think from 1967...will get to that, as I am taking you on the tour. These were all the pictures that I took with my camera. The theme for "Longboards" is really about a surfer restaurant, tha is one and only in Palm Beach County. My son's artwork on surfboards that is his side hobby is all shown here.
They are all hanging, and adorning this cool place. We'll get to that also!
You'll have to forgive me, I have no idea of the make of these cars, I only know so far that the very first car oln top of the page is a 1959 Cadillac...they sure don't make cars like that any more, with all the expensive chrome and beautiful workmanship...OK...moving on!
I think this is a 1955 Buick...but I could be wrong!
I love this car the most...always have. A 1967 SS Chevy!
Wow...just look at the engine of this "baby"...need I say more?
Now that's a cool old Chevy truck!
Now, the fun begins...this is the entrance of the you can see, there's also a band outside across from the restaurant!
This is the first surf board that was hanging on the wall as we entered. Sargent Pepper, The Beatles, is feautered on here. My son Joe designed and painted these surfboards (but not the nude woman surfboard in the video)...Joe just came up with this concept a couple years ago. He is a fantastic artist, and writer. He published his first novel, and is working on the second.
This is the second surf board...A Hawaiian design!
This is one of my favorite of my son's work. I love the ocean view...the little people, and the palm trees!

It's actually a seafood place...just look at all the fresh seafood at the bar...this was not "free"...of course, even if it was the grand opening!
This surf board was on the opposite side of the restaurant wall, art work of my son Joe. I really am so proud of him, he is so dedicated to his family, work, art, and fun...I'm such a blessed mom...with a beautiful and loving family!
Wall to wall people...I totally missed taking photo of the food trays being passed around. So many chicken wings, they couldn't keep up with them...not to mention mini crab cakes, fish sliders, mini ribs...etc.
I must tell you, in Florida you find all kinds of's one of them, he just happened to join in the conversation at our table....LOL
He gave me permission to take his picture...but he said "just don't touch my balls"....I don't think that will happen...LOL
The woman on the left...don't know her, but she also plopped her plat as you can see...empty, at our table, and was waiting at the open kitchen for trays to come out so she can be the first to fill up her plate!
There she is...patiently waiting for food to come out...I figured she's a "she" with the pink back pack!
Well, she joined us too, and now she is wearing a Hawaiian "lei"...almost finished with her Long Island ice tea...he, he...and more chicken wings?
Here's Chef Victor...saying "hurry up" with those trays...Got a hungry croud out there!
Let me tell you...that was such a fune night...I had such a great time, don't usually go to places like this, or should I say restaurant opening?
That's what I call a "packed house"...or should I say a "packed bar"
Even a cute litte litttle "pooch" joine in on the fun!
This is what was going on outside as we were leaving. A skate board championship!
Watch the You Tube son Joe ( wearing orange baseball cap) is being interviewed! Just found the video, when I wanted to link to the restaurant!
This was the street scene at night...on a Thursday night...not even a weekend. Very organized disturbance of any kind, except for the woman with her chicken wings inside...who joined us got into a fight with an elderly guy who dumped his chicken wing bones on her plate full of wings...guess he had a bit too much to drink and mistakened it as bones on that dish. She started to clobber him with her pink back pack.
(we have it on tape too...LOL)
So, that's it for now...leaving the event at about 9:30PM...the party was still going strong, but the next day was a working day, and enogh fun for one evening!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Simple One Bowl Brownies...and more Awards!

Since my daughter Lora came back from Italy recently...I had about 2 nights of sleep in my own place, my poor kitties hanging around me and sleeping on my bed, which my little Persian hardly ever does except if it's storming outside, that can also be the reason why she snuggle up at the foot of my med on her very own little pillow.
Now, I'm back again house and dog sitting for a beautiful black Lab at my son's house only a few blocks away from my daughter, and myself. They are off to NY city, and to the country in NY state for two weeks. After all, d-in-law Cara's family resides in more the reason to visit! BTW-if any of you friends out there need a good pet sitter out there, just give me a holler...LOL, I'm getting really good at this for the last few years now.
I'm really good company for pets...dogs, or cats...they understand my "language" and actually really miss me when I leave, but in this case I don't go far.
This is the simplest one-bowl brownie you'll ever make, and this time I drizzle a simple sugar glaze on it, and just made a design with a fork to pull to one side...but you have to work fast with the design, as you can see the sugar glaze hardens really fast, which is good, because your don't want it to be a sticky gooey mess.
After you have the ingredients mixed in one bowl, all you have to do is to pour the batter into an aluminum lined 8x8 bake pan and bake for no longer than 20 minutes for a fudgy result...I baked it for 25 minutes, not so dense and overly fudgy!

Simple One Bowl Brownies
adapted from All

4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup butter
2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
2. Microwave chocolate and butter or margarine in large bowl at HIGH for 2 minutes or until butter or margarine is melted.
3. Stir until chocolate is melted. Stir in sugar. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour and nuts
4. Spread in greased 8 x 8 inch pan. Bake for 20- 25 minutes (do not over bake).

For the glaze:
I used 1 cup powdered sugar, and 1 Tbsp of whole milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Just mix all together in a small bowl, with a fork, and drizzle over top of the brownies after you have cut them. Important to cut the brownies first, so drizzle will not be messed up, You can see in the above photo, how I did, and also made design with fork pulling in one motion. By the time I got to the last row, the glaze had already it's a good sign.)

My spoiled and pampered kitties...home alone!
I have to apologize to you all for not being able to upload...or even copy and paste the second award I wanted to pay forward to you...I am working on my son Joe's computer, and apparently he has a tight security system where it prohibits, copying, and pasting...although I was able to finally upload the award after a few attempted mistakes, but now I don't know which file I put it into. (I'm in so much trouble when son finds this...LOL) some point I will be going to my place to check on my kitties, and will try to upload it from mine, and pay it forward!
Finally did go to my place, and was able to copy and paste the award...will pay it forward...actually getting there, now!

 ...and now, for the 2nd award received from Purabi, Cosmopolitan Currymania...thank you Purabi!

I would like to pay forward to 15 bloggers this really nice award...congratulations...well deserved! I do apologize for missing out others, but I still have one more award from Purabi!
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