Saturday, July 25, 2009

Focaccia with Red Pepper Tomato Soup

I had half of my day booked with nothing to do, and since the house was completely vacant of people, something that doesn't happen to often, I decided on spending my day in the kitchen cooking a nice hardy dinner. Nothing compliments any dinner better, then a nice serving of bread to go with it, and what can go wrong if that bread is flavored with garlic and herbs?! And so I found a perfect focaccia recipe in "The Essential Baking Cookbook."

The recipe given was:
-7 g. 91/4 oz) sachet dried yeast
-1 teaspoon caster sugar (I make my own by blending it in the coffee grinder for a few seconds)
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-3 1/4 cups (405 g/13 oz) white bread flour (I used wheat for half)
-1 tablespoon full-cream milk power (I didn't have any on hand, and wasn't quite sure what it even was, so I would have mixed whole-milk with cornstarch, but since I dind't have any cornstarch, I used rice flour which also works as a thickning agent, to mix in with the whole-milk)
-1/2 teaspoon salt

-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1-2 cloves garlic crushed
-I added 2 tablespoons of finely chopped onion
-fresh rosemary springs or leaves
-1 teaspoon dried oregano
-1-2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
-Black olives (I didn't use them)

1. Lightly grease a 28 x 13 cm (11 x 7 inxh) baking tin. Put the yeast, sugar and 1 cup (250 ml/8 fl oz) warm water in a small bowl and stir well. Leave in a warm, draught-free place for 10 minutes, or until bubbles appear on the surface. The mixture should be frothy and slightly increased in volume.

2. Sift 3 cups of the flour, the milk powder and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is well combined. Add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough, and then turn onto a lightly floured surface.

3. Knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Brush the surface of the dough with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1 hour, or until well risen. Punch down the dough and knead for 1 minute. Roll into a rectangle and place in the prepared tin and the cover with plastic wrap. Leave to rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, form indents 1 cm (1/2 inch) deep all over the dough at regular intervals.

Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes, or until the dough is well risen. Preheat the oven to moderae 180 C (350 F/Gas 4)

4. For the Topping, brush the combined olive oil, garlic, and onion over the surface of the dough. Top with the olives optional), rosemary springs, then sprinkle with oregano and salt.

5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Cut into large squares and serve warm.

Through the rising intervals the focaccia had, I multi-tasked by making this soup in the mean time;
I was looking through a cooking magazine a while back and found a red pepper soup recipe. I didn't buy the magazine, but since I admired the recipe so much, I tried memorizing the basic steps and ingrediants of it. This seemed like a great time to make it knowing it would compliment the focaccia perfectly. I couldn't completely memorize the recipe, and I had more tomatos on hand then bell peppers, so I turned it into more of a tomato soup with red peppers.
I used:
-3 Red Bell Peppers
-7 medium tomatos
-Olive Oil (to roast the veggies)
-1/4- 1/2 an onion
-1 can of veggie stock
-2-4 tablespoons of cream or chunks of fresh mozzarella
-Salt and Pepper
-Grated parmesan to garnish (optional)
-Fresh basic to garnish (optional)
-Focaccia toping (recipe above, optional)

1. Toss the bell peppers with olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper, after you have seeded and sliced the peppers, and then let them roast in a 400 F. oven for about half an hour.
Then add the tomatoes and onions for another 15 minutes, which have also been smeared with some olive oil and the leftover focaccia topping

2. Once the roasted veggies have cooled of just a bit, throw them into the food proccesor (try not to pour in the excess olive oil with them, but save some of it to drizzle on top of the soup) with a can of veggie stock (or however much you need to thin the soup out to your liking), the chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese, and a few heaping pinches of salt as well as some pepper

3. Once its all fully pureed together, you may the mixture to get rid of any seeds from the tomatoes, or just put it onto the stove to heat, and serve with grated parmesan cheese and basil on top. You can also drizzle any of the saved olive oil, that was used to roast the veggies on top.

After a good few hours in the kitchen, hot soup with a side of focaccia was finally ready to be eaten...

..every single bit of it =)

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