Dinner at Diane’s

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     The invitation said, “Bring a pizza and I will provide the salad and beer”.  My go to pizza lately has become a focaccia from Heart of the Artichoke, by David Tanis.  You mix it up a day in advance and then let it experience a slow rise in the refrigerator.  When you pat it into the baking pan the next day and give it a final one-hour rise, it takes on a spongy, chewy texture that crisps on the outside during baking.  You can keep it very simple with just some rosemary and sea salt or top it like a pizza.  I added onions, sliced and shredded mozzarella, chopped prosciutto, fresh cherry tomatoes,  and some grated Parmesan.  After baking, I put on some touches of basil from our garden.
    Diane always says of her decorating style that she likes it old.  She has a way of achieving an elegant balance of objects and collections without becoming cluttered.  She is also the first one at the FRIP, the public market,  on Sunday mornings and gets great stuff for nothing.  

     All of the pizzas and salads were thoughtful and delicious; it was a perfect neighborhood evening in Carthage.  

Rosemary and Scallion Focaccia
1 recipe makes one flat bread about 10 by 15 inches
11/2 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for sprinkling
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1/2 cup roughly chopped scallions
1 tablespoon roughly chopped rosemary
Course salt for sprinkling
Put 1/2 cup of the warm water in a mixing bowl. Add the yeast and 3 tablespoons of the flour and stir together.  Let the mixture sit until it gets bubbly, about 4 minutes.
     Add the remaining 1 cup water, the rest of the flour, the salt, and olive oil.  Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture gathers into a rough, sticky mass.  Sprinkle the dough lightly with a little more flour, and knead the dough in the bowl for a minute or so.  Then turn the dough out onto the table and just give it a couple of turns with your hands.  (Note:  I have a question if the liquid to flour ratio is correct in the recipe.  When I use this amount, I get a sticky, unworkable mess and the focaccia comes out more like bread stick texture and not chewy.  I add more flour until I have a moist ball that holds together, at least.)
     Lightly oil a bowl large enough to contain the dough- it will rise a little bit in the fridge.  Turn the dough in the oil, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.  
     The next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator and pat and press it into a generously oiled baking sheet.  It might spring back a bit.  Allow this to happen, and wait a few minutes.  It will eventually relax and become more malleable.
     Now the focaccia needs to rise in a warm place for a out an hour, covered well with plastic wrap or wax paper.
     Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Scatter the scallions and rosemary evenly across the top of the dough and drizzle with olive oil.  Poke little dimples evenly over the top of the focaccia, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until it’s nicely browned on top and the bottom seems done.  Cool to room temperature, if you can wait.
Other Toppings David Tanis  Recommends:
Instead of rosemary and scallions, sprinkle the dough with 2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds, some red pepper flakes, and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.  Or poke green olives or chopped pancetta into the dimples on top of the focaccia.
And the one I will try when I get the right ingredients:
Wine Grape Focaccia
In the autumn, a wonderful sweet and savory focaccia can be made with ripe wine grapes and caramelized onions.  Replace the scallions with a cup of red onion caramelized in a little olive oil with salt and pepper, and poke wine grapes into the dimples you’ve made on the surface of the dough (You could also use fresh table grapes, but that’s not as romantic, is it?).  Top it with the rosemary and salt.

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