It’s been awhile since I have written an informal post for one of my own creations. Today marks the one year anniversary of two big changes in my life; working full-time as a Behavior Analyst and becoming a Food Writer for a local newspaper.
Anyone who has a full-time job knows that it soaks up a majority of your week, leaving only nights and weekends for “free time”. My free time was always consumed with trying new recipes, followed by several hour photo shoots of the dishes I created.
Oh the good old days. So simple.
Over the past year, my photography and blogging hobby metamorphosized into a part-time “jobby”. My free time now entails interviewing restauranteurs and chefs. I spend time at restaurants before their Grand Opening, getting shots of the food and space. The best part is noshing on all the fun new fare. After the full experience, I compile my opinions on the new restaurant into 800-1,200 words.
One may say I am a food critic, but that’s not the case. My editor specifically told me to feature restaurants, not criticize them. Connect Savannah is not in the business of destroying a local restaurant’s reputation. So, if a place is not worthy of being written about, then “I should not waste my time”. Trust me, if I could critique, I would.
So, I have been writing feature articles on restaurants in the Savannah area. Each article from start to finish takes me about 8-10 hours…consuming a lot of my free time. I enjoy it greatly, but like with anything, I need a break sometimes.
All this to say, my time for home photo shoots with my own food is obsolete.
I miss it though. That feeling you get after leafing through a Bon Appetit magazine, getting struck with inspiration. My motivation for cooking has not diminished, just taking the extra time to shoot the dish in its best light.
This is my four day weekend and the feature article is already written. This particular feature inspired my mediterranean bread recipe. A new bakery has come into town, the Auspicious Baking Company. The mediterranean focaccia loaf was to die for. It was spongy, oily, moist, soft and vibrant.
So I researched ways to create it at home.
While kneading my bread, I ran out of flour to fold into the dough. It was sticky and would not form into any sort of shape. So, I incorporated some rye flour. It did the trick as far as forming a tight ball, but the final product had a crusty bread-like texture rather than the squishy focaccia from Auspicious.
Trust me, the bread came out incredible and served as a dip-able treat with pasta and fresh marinara that night. I just did not feel right sharing it with you and calling it “focaccia”.
I will keep trying to create a focaccia loaf and if you have any hints or suggestions for me, leave a comment below. But for now, enjoy this deliciously rare recipe that I happily had time to photograph and type up for you!
Makes two loaves in an 8-inch cake pan
- 1⅓ cups lukewarm water
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 package of active dry yeast
- 12 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour + more for kneading
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 10-12 cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 yellow or orange pepper, sliced
- 1/4 cup feta cheese
- 10 assorted olives, pits removed
- 1/4 red onion, sliced
- flake salt
- parsley, garnish
- In a large bowl or stand blender, combine water, honey and yeast. Whisk together until combined and let sit until foamy (about 10 minutes).
- Add 4 tablespoons olive oil and mix to combine.
- Add flour and sea salt. Mix until it forms a sticky ball.
- Flour a clean surface and knead the dough by hand (or with a dough hook attachment) until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes by hand). Add a pinch of flour at a time to assist in smoothing out the dough- This is where I added rye flour. You do not need to do this and your bread may come out more spongy than mine.
- Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
- Oil two 8″ round cake pans. After dough has doubled in size, divide in half and place in the prepared pans. Using your fingers, stretch the dough to cover the bottoms of the pans.
- Cover loaves with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- After dough has finished rising, use your fingertips to poke dimples into the entire surface (space out every 2 inches).
- Divide tomatoes, peppers, onions, feta, and olives-spacing out each ingredient onto each bread’s surface.
- Drizzle each with 4 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with flake salt.
- Bake until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. I finished mine off in the broiler (3-5 minutes) to give them a golden and rustic hue.
- Garnish with parsley and more feta. Slice like a pie and enjoy!