Sunday, April 8, 2012

Nail-inators and Focaccia for Easter

When I was about N's age (6 give or take) I liked to hammer nails into leftover pieces of wood.

I called them nail-inators.

Somehow my creations morphed into a means to dry the decorated egg shells that have been part of my family's Easter tradition for 79 years.

The egg shell idea came from my great grandmother. It was the Depression, so making due with what you had was what everyone did. Egg shells were cracked so the yolk and white could be dumped out through a quarter-sized hole in the pointy side of an egg. The shells were then painted, stuffed with candy, hidden and then hunted on Easter. In the picture, you can see three generations (my mom, me and N) painting eggs and drying them on the nail-inator.

This is a close-up of a nail-inator with some hammer-and-sickle eggs created by my husband.

This has nothing to do with focaccia except that, in preparation for tomorrow's Easter party, I painted eggs and made focaccia.

Focaccia is an easy thing to take to a party since it does not need to be refrigerated and tastes delicious. I like to pair it with fresh whipped ricotta and a glass of sparkling wine. I have a few bottles of Arte Latino Cava Brut that were $6 at Wegman's new liquor store in Cherry Hill that I will be bringing as well.

Side note: For $6 this wine cannot be beat. It is dry and lacks the depth of a higher end wine, but it also lacks the chemical taste of many cheap wines. For that reason, it is perfect to pair with appetizers and other rich foods that are complex on their own. If I am going spend the money on a high-end bottle with lots of depth, I am going to pair it with simple foods. A beautiful grass-fed rib eye with nothing but salt married with a deep rich Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, for example.

To make focaccia you need:

1 Store-bough pizza dough (I like Wegman's or you can make your own if you have the time. Don't use Trader Joe's dough, it tastes like chemicals)

Approximately 1 cup of whatever looks good from an antipasti bar. This time I used oil-cured tomatoes, roasted red peppers and roasted garlic. I could make all of these myself,but I needed to pack and get the house ready for a trip to Pittsburgh and DC, so I didn't.

Approximately 1/4 cup of good olive oil.

A couple sprigs of rosemary chopped fine.

Salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Starting from frozen (or cold) dough, drizzle dough with olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for a few hours until doubled in size and fluffy.
  2. Coat a rimmed baking sheet liberally with olive oil, use more oil than you think you should to make sure the dough doesn't sick. Alternately you can use less oil and a sheet of parchment but I like the fruity taste the olive oils give the bread.
  3. Press dough out into a rectangle-ish shape approximately 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick and cover with same plastic wrap.
  4. Allow dough to rise again for maybe another hour, give or take.
  5. Press your finger tips into the dough to make dimples and mash down any high spots.
  6. Top the focaccia with whatever toppings you chose along with the rosemary, salt and pepper.
  7. Drizzle with more olive oil.
  8. Bake in the over for approximately 25 minutes until golden brown and delicious.
  9. Drizzle more olive oil over the focaccia as soon as it comes out of the oven.
  10. Serve with fresh whipped ricotta (made by mixing fresh ricotta with heavy cream (or milk) and olive oil using a hand mixer until light and fluffy.)
This is the raw focaccia right before it went in the oven. You can see the pools of olive oil on the top. All of that will soak in. I experimented with using a silpat (silicone baking mat) since I was bringing this to Easter and I wanted to make double sure it didn't stick.

This is the golden brown and delicious focaccia right out of the oven.