I love Sunday’s. You can wake up early or sleep in late, do some chores or run some errands, and then you still have the entire afternoon for ACTIVITIES!
Today was a great Sunday because there were so many activities! It began with a 5K in Freehold NJ held by the Freehold Area Running Club. Miss Kara Marie and I headed to the Michael J. Tighe park early in the morning and were excited by the start of what looked like a beautiful day. The FARC has a winter race series which means for the next two months there is a 5K every Sunday morning. Awesome! Freehold is lucky to have such a lovely park. Anyway, we finished our race and headed off to check out the outlets for a bit. Two candles and an order for Rockport shoes later we checked out the Java Moon Cafe right around the corner. If you live in the area I HIGHLY suggest you go there. It was so delicious: tomato basil soup and a eggplant smammy later, we were stuffed and headed home. THIS WAS ALL BEFORE 2 PM!! Did I mention I love Sundays?
I came home to find Cynthia making her awesome red gravy (AKA tomato ragu). It’s the best sauce although I might be biased. Chunky tomatoes stewed down with sliced garlic cloves and a hint of red pepper (or a whole mouthful if you’re the lucky one to get the whole pepper on your plate and sticking it in your mouth without realizing it. What a surprise) – it’s that deep and serious tomato taste I love love love. I’m sorry, I get carried away. She tried half of my smammy from lunch and said, “No more wheat bread, start making some focaccia.” So I pulled out a focaccia recipe that included rosemary (an impulse buy from last week) and some garlic, thinking that would go great with a nice pasta and gravy dinner. Cynthia and I got to work and oh my goodness was it worth it. It actually turned out to be really easy. And wow, it went really great with our Italian dinner. Crispy and golden on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside: salty with a lip-licking coat of olive oil and rosemary. It made the kitchen smell like a rustic Italian Pane il Forno (bakery! I’m really trying to keep up my Italian ;)). The smell would have been worth it alone!
Just talking about it makes me want to go back out into the kitchen and toast some up to snack on!
Here’s the recipe-
2 c. unbleached bread flour, sifted
1 tbsp. olive oil (plus some to drizzle on before baking)
3 sprigs rosemary, stalk removed and leaves chopped (plus one sprig to add before baking)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 packet rapid rising yeast
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. sea salt (to put on top before baking)
Add sifted flour to mixing bowl. Add salt, rosemary, yeast, and garlic. Create a volcano (or a well, you knoooow) in the center of the mixture – add olive oil and 2/3 c. warm water. Stir the combination until a dough forms. Knead dough for 10-15 minutes until it is smooth/elastic-y. It will feel dry at first but trust me, it’ll form into a nice consistency if you just keep kneading it. Once you reach that point, oil a clean mixing bowl and place the dough round inside. Oil some wax paper and cover the bowl with the wax paper and then a towel. Put in a warm area and let rise for 45 minutes or until it doubles in size. Gently knead it again for a minute or so and form into a round flat mound. Using a rolling pin, roll out until 1/2 inch thick. Place on oiled baking stone and let rise for another 25 minutes or until it doubles in size again, height-wise. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using two fingers, poke dough in even lines, pressing your fingers to the bottom where you can feel the stone. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Add full or chopped rosemary as well. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes.
EAT. Seriously, as soon as it comes out of the oven, let it cool for 2.5 seconds (like, the amount of time it takes you to get the bread knife) and then carefully take a bite. Don’t burn your tongue. Blow on it a little. But this bread is soooo delicious hot. Yum yum yum.
Ingredients (adapted from Vegetarian cookbook):
En route to my mouth. Yum.
And, if you’re craving some chocolate, or need a gift for some friends (me? I like gifts!), check out Fran’s blog and salivate over the gorgeous looking truffles =]. Because something sweet and chocolatey is perfect after something salty.
PS! The Central NJ Slow Food Chapter’s Winter Farmer’s Markets are being held once a month on Saturday mornings. This Saturday is the second Winter market and it’s being held in Princeton. Check out the website and come see us: http://www.westwindsorfarmersmarket.org/. Lot’s of great vendors – local treats and eats!