This week we're up to #33 on Gourmet's list of the 50 Women Game Changers in the world of food: Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer (yes, Christopher is a woman)---the food writing and photography team that produces the Canal House series of cookbooks. Thanks to Mary from One Perfect Bite for organizing a group of us cooking and blogging our way through this list, one dish at a time. Check back every Friday for another story and recipe from the list, and e-mail Mary if you'd like to join the group.
The Canal House books are self published three times a year, so that the recipes reflect the seasons and reflect the real and simple way that cooks cook for themselves at home. The subscription based publications are part magazine, part book, and, just like last week's Game Changers, these two are bucking the digital trend in the world of food, choosing to disseminate their recipes the old fashioned way. Christopher was one of the founders of Saveur Magazine, and Melissa was a restaurateur and chef who has worked at Martha Stewart Living and Saveur. Canal House is named for the renovated old newspaper office on the Delaware Canal that the two of them have transformed into a shared cooking space.
I'm so glad I decided to make this focaccia, it was easy and so good. It's a perfect company recipe because the lemons on top have that wow factor. It's also a good choice if, like me, you've been wanting to get into homemade bread baking but aren't completely confident about the process. I'd make this again if only for that unique smell of baking bread mixed with lemon that wafts out of the oven about 5 or 10 minutes after the focaccia goes in I am so happy that I was too busy to eat lunch today, I won't have a smidgen of guilt breaking off a big piece hot from the oven...
Lemon and Sea Salt Focaccia ~~~from Canal House Cooking vol 3, Winter/Spring
For the dough
1 envelope (2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
6 tablespoons really good extra virgin olive oil
4 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading
2 teaspoons salt
Really good extra virgin olive oil
Leaves of 2-4 branches fresh rosemary, chopped
2 lemons, washed and very thinly sliced into rounds
Coarse sea salt
- For the dough, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water in a medium bowl. Stir in 1-1/4 cups water and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
- Pulse the flour and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Add the yeast mixture and process until a rough ball of dough forms, 1 minute. Briefly knead dough on a floured surface until smooth. Shape dough into a ball. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil into a large bowl. Roll dough around in bowl until coated with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- Pour a thin film of oil into each of four 8-inch round cake pans. Quarter the dough and put one piece into each pan. Using your fingertips, spread dough out in each pan. The dough is elastic and will resist stretching. Let it relax for 5 minutes or so after you've stretched it as far as it will go. Eventually, it will cooperate and fill the pan.
- Preheat the oven to 450°. Cover the pans with damp dishcloths and let the dough rest until it has swollen in the pans a bit, 30-60 minutes.
- Uncover the pans. Sprinkle the dough with the rosemary. Using your fingertips, poke dimples into the dough in each pan, then liberally drizzle with oil so it pools in the hollows. Arrange just the thinnest rounds of lemon on top, drizzle with more oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. We like ours salty. Bake the focaccia until golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Drizzle with more oil when you pull the focaccia from the oven. Serve cut into wedges.
I froze half my dough for later use in a zip lock freezer baggie---you can do this after the initial rise.
Check out these other bloggers who are exploring Gourmet's 50 Women Game Changers along with me---
Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Heather - girlichef
Miranda of Mangoes and Chutney
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Barbara - Movable Feasts
Jeanette - Healthy Living
Linda - Ciao Chow Linda
Linda A - There and Back Again
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits,
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
Annie - Lovely Things
Nancy - Picadillo
Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook
Kathy- Bake Away With Me
Alyce - More Time at the Table
Amrita - Beetles Kitchen Escapades