Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Cook: Tuscany Focaccia

What is it about "good" movies and their overwhelming need to make you feel bad? Last night I decided to rewatch Melancholia by Lars Von Trier. I'm using rewatch loosely because my first experience with the movie was basically me dozing in and out of sleep while it played on the television. Imagine how lost I was when I woke up to see Kirsten Dunst moon bathing nude by the side of the water as her sister stared on from the trees. I mean I had a hard time following that while I was awake. Groggy me thought I was stoned or something.

What inspired the rewatching was a conversation between J-Fur and I earlier in the week. As the two of us were looking at the sky last Monday, we noticed two strangely colored objects that are not normally visible. She asked what they were and I suggested that they might be a double shot of Melancholia. The joke was pretty much lost on her since she's never seen the film. This second watching was much more difficult than the first. Dozing aside, I was seeing the movie in a brand new light because now I was watching it as a father. The idea that the world could end before my daughter had the opportunity to experience it, really shook me up. I also wondered how would I take it? How would I take knowing that in five days time everything would cease to exist and there is nothing I can do about it? I'd like to think I can do so gracefully, that I could ease the mind of my child and help her live in a fantasy world so that she doesn't know what's coming like Kirsten Dunst does for her nephew. But maybe I'm more like the mom. Maybe I have a complete breakdown. Or worse, maybe I'm like the father. Maybe I take the easy way out while leaving my family behind to suffer. And to think these were some of the tamer thoughts I had.   

The immediate result of a night with Melancholia is that I got up and spent some time in the kitchen with Z-Bot. We baked some focaccia. And now I'm thinking, maybe that's how I go out. Maybe as the world ends, Z-Bot, J-Fur and I stand in our kitchen baking and eating focaccia. 

Tuscany Focaccia

For the topping:
-3 Roma tomatoes, cut into eighths
-1/4 cup green peppers, small dice
-1/4 cup red onion, small dice
-handful of greens (kale/spinach)
-1 tsp. olive oil
-1/4 tsp. dried Italian seasoning

-1 garlic clove, thickly sliced
-salt and pepper

For the Focaccia:
-2 1/4 tsp. of active dry yeast
-1 cup warm water
-1 tsp. sugar
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 tsp. salt
-1/4 cup olive oil

1. In a medium bowl, mix the yeast, warm water and sugar. Let the mixture rest for about ten minutes. The process is working right if your yeast forms bubbles on top.

2. Add the flour, salt and olive oil to the yeast. Stir until the mixture is combined.

3. Turn the dough out on a well floured surface. Gently knead until the dough is smooth, about ten minutes.

4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and rest in a warm place for an hour. The dough should double in size during this time.

5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the tomatoes, olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic and salt and pepper on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes.

6. Place a small amount of olive oil in a skillet. When it is warm, add the red onion, garlic and green pepper. Saute until onions and peppers are soft. Add the spinach or kale and continuing heating until the greens are wilted. Set aside.

7. Once the tomatoes are finished roasting, combine them (juice and all) with the pepper and onion mixture.

8. After the dough has risen for an hour, take it out of the bowl and press it down into two six inch circle pans (I used cast iron skillets). Make sure you stretch the dough to the edges of the pan. Using your fingers, poke holes all over the dough. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

9. Arrange the tomato, onion and pepper mixture on top of the dough. Drizzle the leftover oil/juice over top of each focaccia. Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Slice. Share with your favorite people in the world.