Hello! We're happy to have you!

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sausage Pizza Lumpia

With apologies to the FilAm community...
 

We did something kind of crazy this Thanksgiving. We realized that we didn't have to do anything that we didn't feel like doing, as far as food goes, and decided to get away from the social constructs of what you have to cook. Instead, I made a big list of every food I'm truly thankful for, had my husband do the same, and we cross-referenced it. 

Among many dishes, we both had "pizza" in some form on our lists, but I didn't want to make a whole pizza. We were both grateful for dumplings in every way, shape, and form, so of course, my mind jumped to this: what if we made lumpia...only filled with PIZZA???

Note: a lumpia is a cigar-like roll that's deep-fried and full of meat and seasonings, with almost no vegetables other than aromatics. I love lumpias! I love eating them much more than I love making them, as making them is a bit of a process. You can find a traditional recipe here, from an AWESOME writer! If you'd like to know how I made this abomination, please read on...

Sausage Pizza Lumpia

  • 1 lb Italian sausage (pork or beef is just fine!)
  • 3 oz carrots, shredded fine
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 c shredded mozzarella (I used the vegan version by VioLife!) 
  • 3 Tbsp shredded parmesan(still the vegan kind!) or nutritional yeast
  • 1 oz mushrooms, minced
  • 2 sprigs each thyme, rosemary, and sage, chopped fine
  • 1 egg
  • Pizza sauce, as needed
  • Egg roll or lumpia wrappers, as needed
  • Shortening or oil for deep-frying, as needed
This could not be easier to pull together. Simply combine the sausage with all ingredients except the sauce, wrappers, and shortening and let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. While this step isn't exactly necessary, it's going to help everything mesh. You can also use this time to set up your rolling station. I recommend doing this with a beloved partner, a friend you've been plodding with, or your children, like how my mom did it with me.



I set up this station with my husband. This is:
  • Wrappers
  • A small bowl of water
  • A personal paper towel (for wiping fingers)
  • The pizza sauce
  • A plate to put the finished lumpia on
  • (Unseen) The bowl of filling
Simply smear the pizza sauce on the wrapper, spoon some filling on (about 2 oz) in a log-shape, and roll up, using a wet finger to seal like an envelope. Immediately get these into the freezer, once all finished, and let hang out until you're ready to deep-fry. It is much better to fry these from a frozen state if you can at all help it. I've noticed that you can get crispier skin without darkening while cooking everything all the way through this way, but I don't exactly know why.




I like to use shortening for deep-frying purposes. Hydrogenated lard will do just fine in almost any purpose, and will last you several deep-frying sessions before you need to get rid of it. I also prefer it because it solidifies at room temperature, which means cleanup is a little easier than if it were a liquid. All you do is scoop it into the trash bag instead of having to find a vessel to pour oil in! 

Heat your oil to 350 degrees F and be sure to use a candy thermometer! I like the glass kind that sticks straight in the pot with clear lines. They're quite easy to clean and durable to boot! All you do now is deep fry the lumpia in batches of 3 or 4 until cooked through and golden-brown, which takes about five minutes. Be sure to not add too many to the hot oil all at once, otherwise, the temperature of the oil will go down too drastically and the lumpia will get greasy as a result.

Serve with a warmed marinara sauce for dipping, and you've got a winner!



The taste is so similar to a sausage-filled pizza! I invite you to try it with your own favorite pizza toppings, like bell peppers, anchovies, fresh basil leaves, chicken, chopped pepperoni, or more! The best part about this, like pizza, is that it's so easy to personalize. I do recommend making a lot all at once and freezing ahead, if you can at all help it.

Thanks so much for coming on this journey with me! I hope you all had a fun and safe Thanksgiving that was quiet and happy. I know I enjoyed the quiet celebration that I had with just my husband. There was no stress, no family fighting, no awful kale and corn salad that some body bought at the grocery store just before the feast... Just him, me, and more food than we'll ever eat in one go.

Happy cooking, and happy eating!

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Maple Rosedale Pumpkin Pie

 


Maple Rosedale Pumpkin Pie

yields 1 9" pie

  • 15 oz roasted squash puree
    • Mine was from my special Rosedale pumpkin!
  • 4 oz (a generous half cup) granulated sugar
  • 3 oz (about 1/3 cup) grade A maple syrup
  • 3 eggs, ideally organic
  • 1/2 c almond milk
  • 10 coriander seeds or 1/2 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 spicebush berries, dried
    • If you can't find these, use 2 allspice berries plus 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 Chinese long peppercorn 
  • 1/2 tsp good vanilla extract
    • Check out my Partners page for good resources!
  • A fat pinch of kosher salt
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and prepare a sheet pan lined with either aluminum foil or a Silpat mat. Roll out your favorite pie crust into a glass pie dish (I prefer glass because I can see the bottom and make sure it's all cooked) and decorate as you like. I have these adorable cookie cutters that resemble leaves, and one of them looks like a pine cone. Since I tragically couldn't find my maple leaf cutter, this was the perfect alternative! All I did was let them hang out on the cool marble slab until I was ready to use them. I didn't feel the need to refrigerate the pie piece cut-outs since this pie is so quick to put together. 

Combine your hard spices into a spice grinder and blitz until wholly powdered. You can also use a coffee grinder, in a pinch! I much prefer to use whole spices in this way, as they store much better.  Then add about 2 Tbsp of the sugar and blitz together with the spices. This really helps perfume the sugar with the spices and lends more flavor to your pie!

Whisk together the squash puree with the sugars, maple syrup, and spices until well-combined. Next, mix in the eggs, one at a time, until completely combined. Add in all the rest of the ingredients and taste. If it needs a bit more cinnamon or you'd like to add a dash of cardamom or clove, that's perfectly fine. This is your pie, after all!

Once everything is combined and well-mixed, pour your mixture into your prepared crust. If you've chosen to decorate your pie with leaf or pinecone cutouts, like me, now is the time to attach them with egg wash to the sides and let the other half float along the custard top. Please remember that this is, in fact, a custard pie so I don't recommend a lattice top to finish. Go and have some fun with the outer crust, instead!

Bake at 325 for 3(three) twenty-minute intervals in which the pie is rotated gently in the oven. The pie sets up beautifully when baked low-and-slow, so be sure to not try to rush it! Now that I have your attention, and while the pie bakes and cools, let's talk a bit about the brand new Rosedale Pumpkin and the complicated world of cross-pollination. 

Everyone, meet the Rosedale Pumpkin Squash!

When you grow your own produce, either in a small Victory garden or a decent-sized homestead, there's always the possibility of cross-pollination. While there are many ways to avoid it, there is a not-insignificant amount of us gardeners that simply allow the thing to happen and see what comes of it. I noticed this strange thing growing on one of my squash plants. I got several small butternut squashes from my vines this year, but nothing was quite as big as this weird little monster. It was clear that the butternut and acorn squash had cross-pollinated, and while I could have simply cut it off and let the plant continue to make more...I was frankly too curious to not let it grow. I began taking pictures of it and telling my friends about it. We racked our brains trying to come up with a name for the squash, and it never came...I settled on 'Rosedale" squash since I live in Rosedale and that's where it grew. When I harvested it on the morning of Halloween eve and told my husband about the mysterious squash, he groggily looked at the green monstrosity and said: "So, what, it's like a ... buttercorn?"

OH, MY GOURD.

Oh, come on! We've been trying so hard to come up with a cool name and you just pull that out of the air?! Jerk. 

I actually did a live opening of this thing on Instagram. 

I've decided to call it a pumpkin because of the stem, which is woody and quite stiff once it was dried! I was so curious as to what this tasted like. I documented everything about its cooking. It had a gorgeous bright-orange flesh when cut into that quickly beaded up with drops of diamond-like dew. I roasted it slowly at 300 degrees for about 4 hours with some canola oil so it wouldn't dry out. I didn't add salt or sugar, since I wanted to taste the real thing. Sadly? It didn't taste like buttered corn, so I chose to not name it 'buttercorn.' It tasted incredibly mild, and had a texture almost akin to spaghetti squash. It had plenty of moisture in it, still, so I don't know if this wall of text is masking my disappointment well enough at the lack of distinct flavor of my little green monster. 

Oh well. I still stand by my decision to save all of the seeds for next year's planting! Who knows if the seed will be viable or not? I simply know that I'll be starting them all in seed trays and letting them hang out in the garage by the window to keep them warm and safe until they're ready to be transplanted outdoors. Maybe the second generation will be better? 

This method can be used to roast any winter squash for the sake of preserving the puree over the long winter. I highly recommend doing this, if you don't have access to a cellar (or basement) that's pest-free and is relatively climate-controlled. My deep freezer will likely see a good portion of many bags of winter squash puree this season, even though I have a good cellar that will keep all of my produce fresh over winter. These are the things you really need to think about with a global pandemic going on, and the numbers getting worse. 

I know we're all sick of hearing about Covid-19, but with everything escalating and with hospitals getting overwhelmed again, it would be irresponsible to ignore it and not talk about it. I encourage all of you to contact local farms and see what kind of winter squash they're growing and if they're willing to sell you any or do a trade for them for whatever you may be able and willing to give. I'm fortunate to have partnerships with awesome farmers here in Kansas City that have paid me in produce for doing PR work for them. There are also many farmers markets out there that are participating in a Covid relief program to get good seasonal produce to families that really need them. 



And please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WEAR A DAMN MASK.

Squash - winter squash particularly - are incredibly nutrient-dense. Usually, quite high in fiber, they're a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. Pumpkin and squash are oddly acidic, so that means they're great at encouraging white blood cells to get amped up and protect you against disease this fall and winter. Who doesn't need that? 

Most eastern medicine - seen specifically in Chinese and Ayurvedic principles - have what are known as warming and cooling foods. There's a lot that could be said about this, but all you need to know right this moment is that a "warming food" is based on the internal nature of the food product. You should have nothing but warming foods if you are recovering from an illness or surgery. Foods like chicken, chestnuts, fresh ginger, and - you guessed it - pumpkin or squash are quite warming. It's no wonder we like it in our baked goods, the most-warming kind of food you can usually have! So, really, eating a whole pumpkin pie could be good for you...

When your pie is set to room temperature, you can cut and serve immediately, but I think it's better to chill it for a couple of hours first, just to help set the custard. After that, I do suggest letting the pie come up to room temperature to serve it. This is because the squash and spices are quite fragrant, and cold temperature dulls the beautiful aromas. This is also because eating cold foods can suppress your immune system so it's better to just let stuff be at least room temperature before you eat it. 

If you're curious about more warming and cooling foods, I invite you to have some fun researching it on your own and making informed decisions on it, all with a grain of salt! My mom, a Filipinx woman, always made sure to put extra ginger in her chicken soup whenever I got sick, and I will say it seemed to kick whatever crud I was experiencing out of my lungs. 

I hope you've enjoyed this recipe! Happy cooking and happy eating!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Persimmon Cinnamon Rolls


 

These are fabulous. You want these. You want them in your mouth, right now. These persimmon cinnamon rolls - or per-cinnamon rolls, if you will - are an excellent application of this beautiful fall fruit. I don't think it gets enough credit, but I'll talk about why I think that a little later... For now? Let's get to the recipe!

Per-cinnamon rolls

Dough

  • 400 g all-purpose flour
  • 5 g dry active yeast
  • 125 g sourdough starter
  • 150 g sugar
  • 30 g coconut milk powder
  • 200 g warm water, a little warmer than body temperature
  • 2 eggs
Filling
  • 1 cup persimmon puree
  • 2 tsp dried spiceberry bush berries, crushed
  • A few grinds of white pepper
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • A fat pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon 
Icing
  • 2 oz vegan butter substitute
    • I really love Earth Balance, or Miyoko's brand!
  • 6 oz vegan cream cheese
  • 1/3 c persimmon puree
  • Powdered sugar, as needed
    • Mine took about a cup and a half to get the right consistency
The night before...
Start by combining all of your dough ingredients, except for the eggs and salt, into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a hook attachment. Stir to combine and only to combine, which shouldn't take more than ten or eleven turns. Set a timer for 10 minutes and let everything sit together until the time has passed. When the timer goes, off, add your eggs and salt, and turn on your mixer to a low stir. Let this stir for about 5 minutes! Next, turn the speed up to medium and let stir for about 2 or 3 minutes, or until the dough is incomparably silky and smooth. 

Oil up a large plastic Tupperware container or a good-sized clean bowl that you can seal well with clingfilm. Turn your dough into this container, seal shut tight, and then let sit out for about 30 minutes, or until you can clearly see or smell that the yeast is working in your dough, though it should be noted that you shouldn't keep it out for longer than 45 minutes. While you're waiting, let's get you to prepare our cinnamon roll filling by simply combining everything with a whisk and storing in a large piping bag overnight with your dough. A ziploc plastic bag is fine, too!

Pop this gorgeous dough into the fridge and let sit overnight! It's important to note that if you want to have cinnamon rolls for breakfast, you must wake up early to do so, at least a couple of hours before everyone else eats breakfast to be safe. If you just want them as a morning snack, then wake up at your normal time and do this at your leisure. Shall we take this break to talk about persimmons?




First of all, I should tell you that I personally believe that they do not get hardly enough credit as a fall fruit. They possess a wonderfully sweet and complex flavor with a most-pleasant tang to finish. They're hard as rocks when they're unripe, but when they are ready they get almost squishy. I suppose you could describe their taste to be somewhere between a banana and a date, with an almost citrus-like tang to finish. They almost taste, to me, like good pie filling that's already been sugared and spiced. 

Second, I think it's only fair to warn you that they can be a little hard to find, but with local farmers and the local CSAs being so amazing, you're likely to find at least one or two folk growing them. Wild persimmons are the kind that I got, and although they were incredibly, especially delicious, they were quite small and rather labor intensive. If you can, don't get the wild kind, unless your plan is to dry them and have them in a tea blend. If you've already gotten your hands on wild persimmons, here's how to clean and process them:

Simply take them all in a bowl and let them come up to room temperature. Then, pour boiling water over them and let them sit until the water is cool enough to stick your hand in, remove and crack open the peel, one by one, before pressing the entire fruit into a fine mesh strainer. I like a good tamis, but if you have a food mill on hand then that'll do just fine! I put all of my puree, along with some of my skin, into my blender before pressing it through my tamis strainer once more. I think it's only fair to tell you that it did take me the better part of my afternoon.

Is it the next morning, yet? Are you ready to roll some stuff out? Let's do it! Just so you know, if you want to have this for breakfast, you should wake up a couple of hours before you are ready to bake and turn on the oven. If you work from home, and time doesn't matter anymore, just get up and go! Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and let's get ready.

Flour a surface generously, and that includes your hands! Turn your now-risen dough out onto your chosen surface, be it your counter or a marble slab, and roll out to an even rectangle that's about a quarter-inch thick. Take your filling and simply pipe it in lines all across your dough, and spread evenly with a spatula. The piping bag isn't absolutely required, but it does make it a little easier on you when it comes to even distribution. 

Roll up your dough, nice and tight, and pinch the sealing ends hard when it comes around to the end. Roll over on the seal side to let the weight help you out when cutting. I personally like to slice mine so that they stand up to be about 2 inches tall, and with this recipe, that method yields 15 rolls. Ultimately, if you're a bit of a novice, all you should really do is evenly slice them with a serrated knife and leave to proof on a sheet pan lined with either parchment or a silpat mat. An easy thing to do is to simply cut your whole roll in half, then in half again, then in half again...and voila! You have a whole tray of cinnamon rolls!





Next, arrange all of these on your chosen tray so that there's a decent amount of space between each one. This yielded 15 rolls for me, so I arranged it ina 3 x 5 on my half-sheet pan, sprinkled generously with flour, and then gently laid plastic wrap over the top while I preheated my oven to 325 degrees F. I usually set my rolls next to the stove and rotate them every 15 minutes or so, until they've doubled in size. You might as well make your icing while you're waiting!

Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes, or until golden-brown and delicious. Let them cool for about 5 minutes in the rack, and while your rolls are still warm, dollop over your gorgeous persimmon cream cheese frosting. 

And there you have it! You've just made incredible cinnamon rolls with a gorgeous autumnal twist. Not only are they delicious, but they have a beautifully gentle orange color that's perfect for fall. They're tasty with a hint of the date-like flavor of the persimmons, that is at once comforting and bright...and it all spells magic. 

Thanks so much for reading, today! Happy cooking and happy eating!






Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Fermented Habanero Hot Sauce

 



Fermented Habanero Hot Sauce

yields 1 qt hot sauce

  • 1 pint of organic habanero peppers
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 c apple cider vinegar, plus more for after the fermentation process
  • 1 1/2 c unchlorinated water
  • 2 Tbsp organic fresh ginger, finely chopped
Please note: It's actually important to get organic stuff because it's absolutely guaranteed to ferment, whereas it's not always a guarantee with the stuff that's had pesticides. 

I'd like to tell you now, at the beginning of the recipe, that the most important ingredient in this recipe is time. At least 2 weeks is required, but the longer you let this ferment, the better it will taste. You can ferment this for up to 6 months, but I personally prefer a 3-month ferment. You can plan accordingly, now that you know what kind of time table you're about to have on your hands. Are you still interested? Great! Let's continue...

Clean your peppers and set up a cutting board, ideally a flexible plastic one that can immediately go in the wash. I also advise you to use gloves and to make a conscious effort to not touch your face, eyes, ears, or any other sensitive areas until you've washed your hands thoroughly during the hot pepper chopping process. Make sure you also wash your utensils immediately after you do all of this chopping!

To prepare your peppers, simply remove the stems from your habaneros and roughly chop so that they're all the same size. Peel and chop the ginger, quite finely. Add this to your favorite fermenting croc jar and toss it all with the sugar. If you don't have a good lidded ceramic croc jar, use a mason jar that you can have in a place that's away from direct sunlight. Let this sit for about 10 minutes. 



Pour the water-vinegar mixture over your peppers, then stir well with a metal spoon. Make sure that you have enough liquid to submerge your peppers in their entirety, or they might spoil! All that's required of you now is to cover the jar and wait! Do yourself a favor and set yourself a calendar reminder every week, around the same time, to stir and check on your fermentation.


This is my favorite fermentation jar. I made it.


I'm so lucky to have this gorgeous ceramic jar to ferment my goodies in, but it's absolutely fine if you have a few clean mason jars lying around the kitchen to use! If you have a screw-top jar, you're going to want to 'burb' your mixture every few days by unscrewing the top and allowing any gas to escape. You're really going to want to do this. You don't want to clean up an exploded hot sauce glass jar from your cabinet. Just save yourself the trouble. 

Special note: when you check your pepper mixture after a week or so, you may see a sort of white film on the top of your mixture. This is called kahm yeast. It is not mold, nor is it harmful. This is rather sour, though, so you may want to skim it off the top and discard it!


While we're waiting, shall we talk about hot peppers? 

Most every continent has native capsicum, and the Americas are no different. Peppers are actually native to tropical America, which means anything near the equator and south of.  It's actually quite fun to look up all the peppers that are native to where you are from! Peppers are berries, and they're quite easy to grow in warm climates. If you have a cooler climate, you'll really get the best yield out of them by growing them in a greenhouse or inside in containers in a sunny window. I personally have better luck with most peppers by keeping them in hanging baskets by my window, even in winter. Read all about that in my victory garden post!




I'd very much like to take credit for the number of peppers in this particular brew, but it's actually from a dear friend of mine. I'm partnering with my good friend Alicia, and the rest of the wonderful people at the KC Farm School at Gibbs road. This place is a real working and teaching farm with a wonderful example of permaculture to boot. They have chickens, a big greenhouse, and a tall and lovely cornfield. They're dear friends of mine, so please do give them a Like and a Follow, if you can spare one.  They also have this scarecrow that lives in their cornfield, which definitely does not come alive on the full moon to eat naughty children. 

I first met Alicia when I was the head chef of a not-for-profit organization that combated food insecurity in my city. It was my job to feed a few hundred food-insecure people every day, and I learned more than a lot about how food is grown and consumed in this country of mine during that time. One thing I learned is that the biggest obstacle, in my personal experience, is not exactly getting good food to good and healthy food, but rather getting them to try it. 

When it comes to combatting food insecurity and the unhealthy relationship that the average American family has with food, you must understand that we do not have a good work-life balance in this country. I don't know when the ideology of "If you work, you should be able to have a weekend and to be able to afford a house, food, bills, etc.," became an extremist belief, but there you have it. The reality is that many families nowadays don't have the most ideal schedule, especially those with working single parents and multiple children. The hard thing isn't necessarily acquiring good and healthy food, but it's getting everyone to eat it.

Think about your mental capacity and energy throughout the day, and imagine you're a harried single parent in the middle of a pandemic, trying to scrape together every cent to make a living. Would you rather have a fight with your child about doing their homework or about eating a salad that you made? Would you rather spend time cooking an ingredient you're unfamiliar with, then spending more time getting your child to eat it instead of pick around it on the plate? Or would you rather just throw on something that you know they'll eat and then save your energy about the homework fight, or the bathtime fight, or the bedtime fight? Furthermore, what if you didn't grow up in a household that afforded you the education of learning how to cook? 

Most of the people that know how to cook learned from their parents or grandparents, if not cooking classes later in life. I was incredibly fortunate in that I had a grandmother that knew how to cook, and who cooked with me as a child. My father cooked, my mother cooked...everyone cooked. Everyone also had a good grasp on how to run a home and I benefitted from that by watching them. I tried new foods because they always tried new foods, and as far as I remember I was never a picky eater. The point is that not everybody had that same food-loving family structure growing up, so it's unfair to assume that they did when having a conversation about food going on the table for everyone

After your preferred fermentation period, you're ready to make your hot sauce! Are you excited? Because I am!

Drain the peppers slowly and reserve the liquid. Add the solids of your mixture to a food processor or blender and add about 1/4 cup of the fermentation brine along with another 1/4 c of vinegar. You can use either apple cider vinegar or white vinegar at this point, but I personally prefer the sweetness of the apple cider in this particular application, because habaneros are incredibly hot. Please also note that this will likely explode in a cloud of spice when you pour, so please be cautious!

Blend this concoction on low for 1 minute, and then on high for 30 seconds, or until entirely smooth. You can strain out the solids with a fine-mesh sieve, but I personally prefer a thicker sauce so I don't strain. All that's left now is to bottle it in either a glass bottle or glass mason jar to be kept in the fridge! I love the fermentation process, and the fact that it does continue to ferment in my fridge, so I don't cook my sauce, even though you can cook it to stop the process and intensify the flavor more to your liking. No matter what, this is the stage you'll want to taste it and add salt to your liking. 



And there you have it! A gorgeous, fermented hot sauce for the table that will last you a good long while. Use this as you would use your regular store-bought hot sauce for a little extra zing while you're cooking! I hope you've enjoyed this post. Please feel free to experiment as much as you like with this hot sauce recipe. Don't be afraid to add garlic, dry spices, different kinds of peppers, and more! 

Happy cooking and happy eating!

Friday, September 25, 2020

Best Ever Sourdough Focaccia



Favorite Sourdough Focaccia


  • 400 g all-purpose flour
  • 150 g sourdough starter
    • I'm sure all of us started this thing when the quarantine began but if you don't have one, you can just omit this and up the yeast to 5 g
  • 260 g water, a little warmer than body temperature
  • 3 g yeast
  • 125 ml olive oil plus more for the pan
  • 3 g kosher salt
  • Herbs and such as needed
  • Salt and water for the brine
Combine the flour, sourdough starter, yeast, and water in the bowl of a standing mixer using the hook attachment and mix until just combined. Let it sit for about 10 minutes in the bowl to let the flour hydrate and the yeasts to get to know each other. When that timer is up, turn the mixer on to low speed and add in your salt and oil, and mix for five minutes. Then, mix for another 5 minutes on medium-high. Oil a clean bowl or a plastic container with a lid generously with more olive oil, using your hand. Use that same hand to scrape out your dough (so you won't stick) into the container and stick it in a warm place for about two hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

While we're waiting, let's get to the fun part...

Oil a new sheet pan quite generously and turn your dough out, as gently as possible, and pull it out to spread evenly. Oil more, and add your pretty ingredients. I cannot stress this enough if you are going to make lovely focaccia art, but it is absolutely imperative that you set in your picture now so that it can rise and stick when baked.

Focaccia art began circa April/May 2020, when the pandemic was really kicking into high gear. The trend has gone from Instagram to being all over Good Morning America, and even Buzzfeed's Tasty got in on the fun! Basically, you take a gorgeous focaccia loaf and create a lovely landscape using herbs, flowers, vegetables, and more. Now I was skeptical of this idea before because I subscribe to the belief that "every bite should taste the same" when it comes to bread. Once the boredom and existential dread set in, however, and I had more and more sourdough starter piling up, I frankly cracked and made one for myself. It was a big hit!




The reason I'm telling you this now is so you can look ahead for some inspiration! The flowers here on mine are made of sliced leeks and I used sliced green bird chilies here and there...and added leaves of spinach, parsley, cilantro, dill, and more. Many people use lovely fresh peppers and other vegetables to be atop their focaccia art, and I've joined in the fun on a couple of occasions. I do admit that I still believe that above all else bread should be tasty and while putting slices of raw peppers on a focaccia dough to let rise looks pretty cool I don't know how well it's going to taste. The taste of your item should absolutely reign as the supreme factor when it comes to food, leaving looks to be a close second. 

I'm sure that plenty of folks out there will tell you that you really need to think about what you want your garden landscape on the focaccia to look like far beforehand, and that's definitely true when it comes to just about any art project. Mise en place is a lifestyle/mentality that many chefs and cooks subscribe to! When it comes to this particular application, however, I personally prefer to let it develop organically, leaving it all dependant on what herbs I have in the garden that are ready to go. 

It's currently late September and I live in the North-Midwestern Americas, so I still have quite a few herbs, but the cooler weather of the midwest means that I have pansies. This means I get to put edible flowers on my focaccia! I invite you to look around in your own garden and see what edible flowers are available to you immediately. You likely will have pansies, marigolds, and roses...all of which are absolutely edible. 



As I mentioned before, the trick with focaccia art is that you must put on your flowers, herbs, etc., during the second proof so that when it rises, the herbs and flowers and such will really stick. Although I don't necessarily plan out everything meticulously, I certainly don't just slap stuff down willy-nilly either. To let it develop organically, I first decide on the visual orientation of the piece, be it portrait or landscape. Then, I take my biggest pieces or my most-colorful pieces of edible loveliness and pop that on first. In this one's case, the pansies were the biggest eye-catcher, so everything sort of developed around that. I also had these incredible nasturtiums that looked like tiny parasols, in a way, so that came on next. Then came the sage leaves, thyme, etc. 

Once you're happy with your focaccia garden landscape, spread olive oil lightly on the dough and cover with clingfilm and let rise again. You can let this hang out in the fridge for up to three hours if you did this early in the day and want to bake it freshly for dinner! If you just want to bake it soon, simply set it in a warm place for about an hour and a half, or until it looks very puffy. Everything will have risen together and your herbs, flowers, vegetables, etc., will not fall off! Don't forget to preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

When risen after the rest, dissolve two tablespoons of kosher salt in three tablespoons of hot water in a cup. Oil your fingers her her her and press dimples between the spaces of the pictures you have created. Spoon in the brine to the dimples. Let sit for another 5 minutes and oil well with even more olive oil. Add a few grinds of fresh pepper and bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes, rotating your sheet pan halfway between. 

I like to let my bread hang out and cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting, but make sure you get this off the sheet pan and onto a cooling rack sooner rather than later, lest you get a soggy bottom. 



Thanks so much for joining me here today! I hope this has inspired you. Please don't forget to share this around if you try it, and tag me on Instagram or Facebook to let me see your incredible creation. Happy cooking and happy eating!