Wednesday, February 29, 2012

ITALIAN BEEF SANDWICHES

If you haven't noticed already, Olivia and I are at different places in our culinary lives.  That isn't a bad thing.  In fact, it is  good because I think we represent  the good things about where each of us is in our lives as cooks.  Olivia is young and eager to build her own repertoire of recipes and traditional favorites.  She eagerly scours web sites, magazines, cookbooks, classes, stores, etc.  looking for new things to try and luckily her husband, my husband,  and I benefit from her many excursions into culinary nirvana.

Me on the other hand--not so much.  I enjoy watching her grow as a cook and she even brings mom along for the ride (which I appreciate) but the truth of the matter is, I am not as adventurous as I used to be and that is okay. I am passionate about preserving family traditions and recipes from previous generations, but to be honest, my biggest culinary challenge most days is trying to figure out what I can cook for my husband and I after a tiring day at work.  I care that it is nutritious and tasty, but beyond that success is measured by if the evening meal even happens (I'm guessing there are working women over 50 years of age out there who can relate to this).  The following recipe is one I came up with in an effort to do something different with minimal effort.  I served it to the family and got good reviews so I share it with you.  If you like beef and you like Italian flavors, I think you will enjoy it.
-Nanette
ITALIAN BEEF SANDWICHES

Place in your slow cooker or crock pot  a 1-2 pound beef roast (I use either a rump roast or chuck roast.).  Depending on your slow cooker or crock pot and whether you cook it on low or high, cook it 4-6 hours until the meat is thoroughly done and tender. I'm vague about the cooking time because, if you work outside the home during the day, you will cook it at the rate you need to so that it will be done when you get home (not very scientific, but hey--it works).  If you need to add a little broth or water during the cooking time so it doesn't totally dry out, do it.  Remove the meat from the cooker and if there is any grease in the bottom of the cooker or crock pot, remove most of it.  Keep no more than 2 tablespoons of drippings in the pot.

If there is fat remaining on the roast, remove it.

 
Next, pull the meat apart and flake it.

Cut up a medium onion and a green or red pepper (whichever you prefer).  Place the vegetables in the bottom of the cooker/crock pot and then put the shredded beef back in the pot on top of the vegetables.  Don't stir it because you want the vegetables to sweat and get tender.  They will do that best in the bottom.  On top of the meat, place garlic (the minced kind from a jar) if you want it and red pepper flakes if you want them.  Add as much or as little as you prefer.

Once you have added the meat back into the pot with  the garlic and the red pepper flakes, pour one cup of your favorite bottled Italian salad dressing on the meat.  Cover and continue to cook on low for at least an hour to allow the vegetables to get tender and the meat to soak up the flavors.


Before serving, stir everything well.  Serve the beef on your favorite roll or bun.  If you want to really get exotic, add a slice of pepper jack or mozzarella or provolone cheese.  This recipe should make enough for at least four sandwiches. I hope you like this as much as we do.  I'm toying with the idea of trying to pressure can this recipe when canning season rolls around. If that happens, I'll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spice Combinations

Since Mom happened to mention in her post yesterday that I've never met a spice combination I didn't like, I thought I would share with you two spice mixes you can easily make at home.  Ranch dressing mix and onion soup mix - Why would you want to make these at home?  One could argue that it might be cheaper in volume over time, but I prefer to do it because I know exactly what is going in my spices and food!  I know exactly how much salt goes into these mixes and the quality of the products used.  Plus, to be honest, it is fun to have jars of spice mixes that I put together myself.  :)

Now, as to where I get the volume of bulk herbs/spices needed to create these mixes - We are fortunate to live about half an hour away from an Amish grocery store and about 45 minutes away from another Amish community with a bulk store.  I love to go "long distance grocery shopping" as my husband calls it.  I enjoy going and stocking up on the products I know I can use for a good while in many different dishes.  If you are a gardener, you could always dry many of your own herbs to use in spice mixes.  The main advice I would give is - Do not buy the spices in the small little containers from the normal grocery store.  These would most likely be far too pricey to have the amount of herbs/spices you need to make these mixes.

When I made these two spice mixes today, I doubled each recipe to fill up the canning jars I used.

As always, please feel free to leave me comments or questions on the blog, or if you aren't able to leave comments on here, please look up our facebook page - "Chicken Soup for the Bowl" and "like" us so you get updates of when we post on the blog! :)
-Olivia





Onion Soup Mix:
2/3 cup dried, minced onion
3 teaspoons parsley flakes
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
Mix all ingredients in a jar, then give the jar a good shake.  I’d recommend shaking the jar to mix the ingredients well before each use. 
Use 4 tablespoons in a recipe in place of 1 packet of onion soup mix.  Store this in a dry, cool place. 





Onion soup mix ingredients piled in before being mixed up -

Onion soup mix finished and ready to use (on right) along with some of the bulk ingredients I used to create it-






Ranch Dressing Mix:
5 tablespoons dried minced onions
7 teaspoons parsley flakes
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Mix together and store in an air tight container.
For dressing: Mix 2 tablespoons dry mix with 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup buttermilk or sour cream.
For dip:  Mix 2 tablespoons dry mix with 2 cups sour cream.
Mix up a few hours before serving, so the flavors all blend.


Just shake for ranch dressing mix-


Ranch dressing mix all ready to be used (on the right) and some bulk items I used to create the mix-

Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Healthier" Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Olivia is an adventurous cook.  She rarely met a spice combination she wouldn't try and her efforts run the gamut from decadent to healthy.  This one leans purposefully to the healthy side.  She made these recently and I was the happy recipient of some of them.  They of course don't have the same texture as the deep fried version of mozzarella sticks you may have experienced in restaurants, but the coating is very good and dipping them in a bit of marinara sauce is delicious.  The photograph was taken before the sticks were baked so that is why they may appear a bit pale.  As indicated at the end of the recipe, the baking time may require a bit of tweaking.  If they don't look done when you pull them out, put them back in for a minute.  If you pull them out and one or two have started to melt slightly, you are flirting with failure so use caution.  I really enjoyed these, but I have never really met a cheese I didn't like.  Forget the rarely part--I have yet to meet a cheese I didn't like (yeah even the multi-colored, somewhat fragrant varieties).  Enjoy!
-Nanette








Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Servings: 12 • Serving Size: 2 pieces • Old Points: 1 pts • Points+: 2 pts*
Calories: 86.8* • Fat: 4.8 g • Protein: 7.4 g • Carb: 3.5 g • Fiber: 0.2 g • Sugar: 0.2
Sodium: 168.6

Ingredients:
  • 12 sticks part-skim, reduced sodium mozzarella string cheese (Sargento)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 5 tbsp Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 5 tbsp panko crumbs
  • 2 tsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • olive oil cooking spray (I used my misto)
Directions:
Cut cheese in half to give you 24 pieces. Place cheese in the freezer until cheese is frozen.
In small bowl, 
whisk
 the egg. 
Place
 the flour on another small dish. In separate bowl, 
combine
 bread crumbs, panko, parmesan cheese and dried parsley.

Dip
 the frozen sticks in flour, shaking off excess, then into the egg, then coat with the crumbs.

Repeat 
this process with the remaining cheese placing them on a tray with wax paper. Place cheese back into the freezer until ready to bake (this is a must or they will melt before the crumbs get golden).
When ready to bake preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with oil.
Place frozen cheese sticks on baking sheet. 
Spray
 the tops of the mozzarella sticks with a little more oil and 
bake
 in the bottom third of your oven until crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes. 
Turn
 and 
bake
 an additional 4 - 5 minutes watching them closely so they don't melt.

Makes 24 pieces.

Recipe from:  "Skinny Taste" Website


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Strawberry Cake to DIE for...

I love to cook; we all know this.  I am not as much of a baker though.  This cake may change that.  I have never made an easier cake from scratch than this strawberry cake.  It is so incredibly easy to make, but tastes like a million dollars.  I won't lie - this cake is not one you want to count "points" for or calories for that matter.  It's worth it though.  One little sliver, and you will know you had a delicious homemade cake.  With this being said, this cake is intended to be a strawberry sheet cake, however, I wanted to only keep half of it for my husband and I and give the rest to my parents.  To do this, I decided to use two cake pans instead of a sheet cake pan.

A couple of interesting tidbits...

1)  I'm not sure why the middle of the cakes puffed up like they did.  It adds character, and I am okay with that!  I'm not a "perfect" cook.  There is a time and place to want to make food look perfect, and a homemade strawberry cake isn't one of those times for me.  Besides, after I iced it, you couldn't see the little domes in the middle of the cakes anyways.  :)

2)  My mom and I freeze fresh strawberries (and blueberries) every summer.  I used some of these frozen strawberries in the icing.  I just rinsed them a bit to warm them up, drained them, and didn't add sugar for "sweetened strawberries" as the recipe instructed.  There is enough powdered sugar in the icing recipe to sweeten them.

3)  Ever since I was a child, I prefer the icing portion of cake to the actual cake.  This cake breaks that rule.  The cake is just as good as the icing!  Old habits die hard though, so after the cakes had cooled, before icing them, I took the end of a handle of a wooden spoon and "poked" the cake with it to make little wells for the icing to pool.  I don't regret that decision one bit.  (As a side note, my preference for the icing over the cake is evident when more than a year after my wedding cake was created, the baker at the bakery made the comment to my mom when she ordered my birthday cake that, "Your daughter really likes big icing roses on the cake, right?"  I guess I left a sweet impression. Ha!)

You really do need to make this cake for whatever reason you can come up with THIS weekend.  It is amazingly delicious!

Happy cooking!
Olivia


Strawberry Cake to DIE for...

Ingredients




  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup mashed sweetened strawberries
  • 1 small box dry strawberry jello
Strawberry Icing:
  • ½ stick softened butter or margarine
  • 3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup mashed sweetened strawberries

  • Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients and pour into greased 9x13 pan.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean
  3. While the cake is baking, make the icing.
  4. Mix together all icing ingredients until smooth – may need to add more powdered sugar or strawberries for a spreading consistency. Mix well first before you add extra sugar or strawberries.
  5. Once the cake is cool, spread the icing on the cake.
  6. Store the cake in refrigerator; it's best when it's chilled for at least 2 hours!!!

Recipe From:  "Farm Flavor" Website


Cake batter:

Cooling the cakes:

Most delicious frosting:


Finished cake.... ready to dig into!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI CASSEROLE

Olivia found this great recipe, tried it, and really liked it.  There are several special things about this recipe.  You use fresh broccoli  and the sauce is totally homemade.  The recipe calls for poppy seeds--a different twist for a chicken recipe but a really nice one.  The recipe also calls for Ritz crackers and lots of cheese--yum!
-Nanette

 French Chicken Broccoli Supreme
Ingredients:
  1 – lb. fresh broccoli Break in pieces, and steam for 2 minutes.
3 cups cooked chicken breasts  – Break up in small pieces
3 cups Grated Cheddar Cheese divided
2 tubes Ritz Crackers
1  stick melted butter
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  SAUCE: 
1/3 C. Butter melted
1/4 C. Cornstarch, dissolved in 1/2 C. COLD Water
1/3 C. Chicken Broth
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
2 Cups Milk
1 1/2 cups of the above Cheddar Cheese
 Directions:
In greased 13×9 pan, layer the broccoli and chicken, then set aside. In saucepan over medium heat, combine the melted butter, cornstarch dissolved in water, chicken broth, seasonings, and milk. Stir well, and continue stirring until sauce has thickened. Turn heat down to low, and add 1- 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese. Stir until melted. Pour over the chicken and broccoli. Top with 1- 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese.
Melt the butter, and add the poppy seeds, and stir well. Crush Ritz crackers in large zip-lock bag with a rolling pin. Don’t crush too small. Add crumbs to the melted butter. Sprinkle crumbs over the top of the grated cheese.
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until hot & bubbly.
Recipe from:  "Get Off Your Butt and Bake" Website

Chicken and broccoli before it's smothered in sauce and cracker crumbs:

Cheesy, yummy sauce:

Finished casserole:

ALL ABOUT POTATOES!

Who doesn't love a good potato?  Until a few years ago, I honestly didn't know the difference between an Idaho and any other potato.  The only time I ever really noticed the difference among potatoes was when my mom used to occasionally make a creamed potato side dish using small red potatoes and peas.  A few years ago I began to cook with yukon golds and fingerlings.  About a week ago, I discovered a great web site devoted totally to the potato.  It is www.potatogoodness.com.  This is a great place to explore the plethora of potato possibilities.  There are descriptions of the different kinds of potatoes, oodles of recipes for potatoes, and even nutrition facts for the ever vigilant healthy eater.  If you love potatoes, stop by this site and check it out!
-Nanette

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

POST VALENTINE FOOD MUSINGS

Today several people shared with me how they celebrated Valentine's Day.  One person was presented with her favorite (somewhat expensive) chocolates and a nice bracelet by her husband.  Another made a favorite recipe for her daughter.  Yet another took her recently widowed mother to the restaurant where she and her husband had always celebrated Valentine's Day.  Although it was different dining with her daughter and her family, bittersweet memories mixed with new memories of family love sustained.  What struck me with these stories was the tie between food and love.  It didn't depend on whether the food was expensive or cheap, homemade or restaurant fare.  What did matter was the memories of love and laughter that were made and the way food underscored all of it.  Food marks the milestones of our lives and punctuates it with glorious touch, smell, and taste.  I've always found it magical how certain encounters with food can instantly take us to a memorable place and time.  If your Valentine is alive or passed, near or far away, I hope this Valentine's Day enveloped you in love...the kind that lasts a lifetime and beyond. 
-Nanette

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

So those of you who know my mother and me in "real life" know that we tend to be a little bit alike.  Ok - A LOT alike.  I'll be honest - there is no one else in this world who I'd rather be mistaken for.  :)  I love my mom dearly, but sometimes it is just plain funny when we "do things alike".  This morning, after church, my husband and I went out to breakfast with my parents.  My dad was planning on coming over to our house this afternoon to help my husband with our renovation project in the basement.  My mom announced that she was making Valentine's Day cookies and having Dad deliver some to us.

WHAT?  She stole my idea!  

I had already told my husband before church that I was making cookies and having Dad take some home for my parents for Valentine's Day.  What can I say - Great minds think alike! 

The cookies I made were rich and chalked full of CHOCOLATE!  What says "Happy Valentine's Day!" more than a double chocolate cookie?  

I must admit - these cookies are seriously full of chocolate.  When I had the guys taste them, they claimed there was "No such thing as too much chocolate!!!" so I guess the cookies passed the test.  I have a feeling this will make its way into my permanent recipe collection at the request of my husband and my dad.  :)



Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
Source: "The Girl Who Ate Everything"

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2) In a small bowl, mix flour, cocoa, soda and salt using a wire whisk and set aside. 
3) In another bowl, cream butter, sugar and peanut butter until light and fluffy. 
4) Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. 
5) Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and mix until combined. 
6) Stir in chocolate chips. 
7) Roll cookie dough into 1-1/4 inch balls. 
8) Place on parchment paper covered baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Cookies will still be soft but will set up after cooling. Place cookies on cookie rack to cool. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

VALENTINE SUGAR COOKIES

There is still time to whip up a batch of sugar cookies for your favorite sweetie in time for Valentine's Day!  Here is a basic tried and true recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook I received as  a wedding gift in 1977.

2/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

1 egg
4 tsp. milk
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Thoroughly cream shortening, sugar, and vanilla.  Add egg.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Stir in milk.  Sift together dry ingredients and blend into creamed mixture.  Divide dough in half. Chill at least one hour (I sometimes chill it overnight).  On a lightly floured surface roll or pat into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thinkness.  Cut into heart shapes.  Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350-375 (the recipe says 375 but my oven always seems hot so I scale back to 350).  Bake for 6-8 minutes.  Cool slightly.  Remove from pan.  Makes about 2 dozen.

Here's my own editorial comment--always use REAL vanilla.  I know the imitation stuff is cheaper and no one likes a bargain more than I do, but you really can taste a difference. 

To ice these little bits of heaven, mix two cups of powdered sugar with 1/2 tsp. of vanilla and enough lemon juice to get it to spreading consistency.  Add a few drops of red food coloring to your desired shade of pink or red.  Spread on cooled cookies.  Add sprinkles before the icing sets if you want to be really fancy!  Wishing you love and happiness this Valentine's Day!

Nanette

Quick Dessert Tip

QUICK DESSERT TIP:

Here is a great easy way to whip up a warm, nourishing dessert for those cold winter nights.  Place two cups of frozen blueberries in a microwave bowl.  Stir in two packets of instant oatmeal (maple/brown sugar works well).  Cover and microwave on high for at least two minutes (time may vary with your microwave).  Stir and microwave in one minute intervals until the oatmeal looks cooked and the blueberries are warm.  It makes a yummy "fake" fruit crisp!  I have also made this with the homemade apple pie filling Olivia and I canned last fall.  Use your imagination with your favorite fruit and oatmeal flavor.  It is easy, fast, and good!

-Nanette

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Orange and Soy-Glazed Ribs

Here is a fabulous recipe that Olivia tried and she raved about how good it was!  The orange and honey flavors complement the red pepper and scallions beautifully.  The meat itself came from one of our very favorite places--Mattern's Meats & Corner Deli, 201 S. Main Street in Goshen, IN.  If you are looking for a family-run butcher shop owned by nice people who know what they are doing, this is your place!  Their meat is superb and they are helpful people too!  In addition to fabulous ribs, they have a great selection of all kinds of meats, including deli meats that make great paninis. Try this recipe.  You won't be sorry.

-Nanette





Orange and Soy-Glazed Ribs


  • Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 pounds pork ribs, cut between bones into individual ribs
  • 1 cup soy sauce, divided
  • 9 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 5 teaspoons cumin seeds, divided
  • 3 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, divided
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 scallions (white and light-green parts separated from dark-green parts), finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice plus zest from 1 orange
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • Zest from 1 lemon and 1 lime



  • Preparation:

    Place ribs, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 tsp. cumin seeds, and 1 tsp. red pepper flakes in a large pot; add water to cover completely. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Cover with lid ajar; cook until ribs are tender, about 2 hours. Drain ribs; set aside for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat; add remaining 3 tsp. cumin seeds and 2 tsp. red pepper flakes. Toast lightly until fragrant, about 30 seconds; add remaining 6 minced garlic cloves and white and pale-green scallions. Sauté until just soft, about 2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup soy sauce, orange juice, and honey. Bring to a boil and cook until sauce is thick, 12–15 minutes.
  • Preheat broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place ribs on prepared sheet; brush with sauce. Broil until sauce bubbles, 2–3 minutes. Turn, brush with additional sauce, and broil until ribs are heated through and sauce is bubbling, 2–3 minutes longer. Transfer to a platter. Drizzle with remaining sauce. Sprinkle dark-green scallions and citrus zest over.

Recipe from:  "Bon Appetit" Magazine (January 2012)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Rosemary Garlic Focaccia



       Olivia found this recipe, prepared it and then served it in her own unique way.  To make the herb oil, she used about three tablespoons of minced garlic in a jar and generous quantities of rosemary.  The rosemary came from a plant still thriving on her front porch in February!    
        When the focaccia came out of the oven, Olivia sprinkled it with parmesan cheese.  For dipping sauce, she combined parmesan cheese, the herb oil and a great ingredient called Charmane's Bread Dipping Seasoning.  This delightful blend can be found at www.SaltSistersOnline.com.  
         The "stick bread", as our friend Liz in California calls it, is well worth the effort and keeps well in the refrigerator for several days.  If you have some left after that, cut it in cubes, dry it in a low oven, and make yourself some super tasty croutons for soups and salads.


-Nanette

Rosemary Garlic Focaccia

Yield: One 12×17-inch loaf
Active Prep Time: 1 hour
Inactive Prep Time: 11 hours
Bake Time: 20 minutes

For the Bread:

5 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons instant yeast

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups water, at room temperature

½ cup Herb Oil
Extra olive oil for the pan

For the Herb Oil:

2 cups olive oil

1 cup chopped fresh herbs (any combination of basil, parsley, oregano, tarragon, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, savory, and sage) 
1 tablespoon coarse (kosher) salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon granulated garlic or 5 to 6 fresh cloves, minced

1. To Make the Herb Oil: Warm 2 cups of olive oil to about 100 degrees F. Add 1 cup of chopped fresh herbs or 1/3 cup dried herbs. Add the salt, pepper, and garlic. Stir together and allow to steep while you prepare the dough. You can keep any leftover herb oil in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (it makes a fabulous dipping oil!).
2. Stir together the flour, salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and water and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until all the ingredients form a wet, sticky ball. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. You may need to add additional flour to firm up the dough enough to clear the sides of the bowl, but the dough should still be quite soft and sticky.
3. Sprinkle enough flour on the counter to make a bed about 6 inches square. Using a scraper or spatula dipped in water, transfer the sticky dough to the bed of flour and dust liberally with flour, patting the dough into a rectangle. Wait 5 minutes for the dough to relax.
4. Coat your hands with flour and stretch the dough from each end to twice its size. Fold it, letter style, over itself to return it to a rectangular shape. Mist the top  of the dough with spray oil, again dust with flour, and loosely cover with plastic wrap.
5. Let rest for 30 minutes. Stretch and fold the dough again; mist with spray oil, dust with flour, and cover. After 30 minutes, repeat this one more time.
6. Allow the covered dough to ferment on the counter for 1 hour. It should swell but not necessarily double in size.
7. Line a 17 by 12-inch sheet pan with baking parchment and drizzle ¼ olive oil over the paper, and spread it with y our hands or a brush to cover the surface. Lightly oil your hands and, using a plastic or metal pastry scraper, lift the dough off the counter and transfer it to the sheet pan, maintaining the rectangular shape as much as possible.
8. Spoon half of the herb oil over the dough. Use your fingertips to dimple the dough and spread it to fill the pan simultaneously. Do not use the flat of your hands – only the fingertips – to avoid tearing or ripping the dough. Try to keep the thickness as uniform as possible across the surface. Dimpling allows you to degas only part of the dough while preserving gas in the non-dimpled sections. If the dough becomes too springy, let it rest for about 15 minutes and then continue dimpling. Don’t worry if you are unable to fill the pan 100 perfect, especially the corners. As the dough relaxes and proofs, it will spread out naturally. Use more herb oil as needed to ensure that the entire surface is coated with oil.
9. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough overnight (or for up to 3 days).
10.Remove the pan from the refrigerator 3 hours before baking. Drizzle additional herb oil over the surface and dimple it in. This should allow you to fill the pan completely with the dough to a thickness of about ½-inch. Cover the pan with plastic and proof the dough at room temperature for 3 hours, or until the dough doubles in size, rising to a thickness of nearly 1 inch.
11. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
12. Place the pan in the oven. Lower the oven setting to 450 degrees F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking the focaccia for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it begins to turn a light golden brown. The internal temperature of the dough should register above 200 degrees F (measured in the center).
13. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately transfer the focaccia out of the pan onto a cooling rack.
14. Allow the focaccia to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing or serving.
(Recipe adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice) 





Left over focaccia cubed and tossed with olive oil, garlic, and kosher salt.  Baked at 340 degrees until lightly toasted.  These are the best homemade croutons for a salad.  They would also be delicious nestled on the top of French onion soup underneath melted cheese.  -Olivia

Meet the Mom

To understand Nanette Frantz’s  frame of reference toward food you should know about her Grandma Smith’s  messy kitchen.  There was always stuff on her countertops.  Much of that stuff was canned goods of the homemade variety.  She loved to can, mostly things she grew herself.  Nanette’s  love of gardening and home canning grew from a childhood fascination with Grandma Smith’s kitchen to a way of life.

Since getting married over three decades ago, Nanette has always canned fruit, vegetables, soups, meat, etc.  Her daughter, Olivia, grew up eating home canned foods and now engages in food preservation too.  They gather in the summer to cut, clean, and prepare summer’s bounty.  Nothing can match the glory of eating the best summer has to offer in the dead of winter.  It somehow holds the promise of another spring, another summer, another harvest. 

From the love of food preservation came a fondness for pure and simple homemade foods that began for Nanette early in life.  There was never been a time when she didn’t like to cook.  As a child she had children’s cookbooks, she  clipped recipes from magazines, and experimented with cooking for family members.  Before she married, she started collecting recipes in a metal recipe box (before the age of computer scanning and that glorious resource known as the internet).  The recipe box was gold with orange and brown mushrooms on it—for those of you who were alive in the 70’s you can probably visualize it.

Nanette’s other major influence was a grandmother who was a fabulous baker.  She could make the most wonderful rye bread and holiday goodies.  Every Christmas she made a Swedish tea ring to pay homage to her Swedish heritage.  She is gone now, but every Christmas Nanette makes that same tea ring for the family.

Nanette’s husband, of thirty five years, has enjoyed the culinary journey of wife and daughter.   He and Nanette live in Indiana with their dog Shelby.  They, including the dog, enjoy camping and even visit local farmers’ markets during their travels.

Food is tied up in emotions, memories, traditions, and milestones that mark and enrich our lives.  This “attitude” toward food is something Nanette and daughter, Olivia, share and they’d love to share it with you!