Sun-dried tomato Focaccia

I like making bread, although I’m not fantastic at it. I tend to over-proof and under knead my dough, which makes for weird textures in the bread. But … with the stand mixer, I decided to give it another try.

I went with the recipe from Veganomicon, the great vegan cook book by Isa Chandra
Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. I love the baked goods in this book, and the basic Rosemary Focaccia is one of my favorites. But, because I can’t just follow a recipe, I decided to add in sun-dried tomatoes early in the mixing process. I thought about adding them at the end, but decided to go in early and let the flavor really permeate the dough.

*Recipe:

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
  • 3 – 4 cups flour**
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, dry packed, chopped
  • oil and finishing salt for baking

Mix the yeast and water together in a bowl and let sit for about 5 minutes to proof. Add 1/2 cup flour, olive oil and mix. Add 1/2 cup flour, rosemary and salt and mix again to form a soft dough. Add 2 more cups of flour and mix lightly. Add sun-dried tomatoes and the, using a stand mixer and dough hook, knead dough on medium speed for about 6 minutes. Check the texture of the dough and if it is too wet, add more flour, 1/3 cup at a time, to achieve a soft, yet not sticky dough. Remove dough from bowl, coat in oil, return to bowl and let rise about an hour (should double in size).

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a pan (I used an 8 x 11 glass dish). Punch down dough and knead a few times. Stretch or roll dough to fit in pan and then sprinkle more oil on top, especially at the edges. Let rise a little as the oven heats up, then add course salt to the top and bake for 30-40 minutes.

This was one of my better breads and it went really well with cheese, oil and vinegar, and with pesto for a kind of flatbread. Mom thought the flavor was too strong, so she made croutons out of the piece I gave her, but both bob and I really loved this.

*Recipe adapted from Veganomicon

**Everyone says baking is exact, but I’ve found the amount of flour I need varies on other factors. Very dry days, I need less. Hot/humid and rainy days, I need a little more.

Folktale Winery, Pinot Noir – 2017

  • Basic info: Folktale Winery “Golden” Pinot Noir, Monterey County, CA – 2017
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $20 (local wine shop)
  • Look: Dark ruby red almost opaque even at the edges.
  • Smell: Fresh raspberry and cherry pie. (Yes, I know those two things seem incompatible, but that’s what I got.)
  • Taste: Very ripe raspberry, blueberry, black cherry. This was a pretty smooth wine and easy to drink. Notes of chocolate and a little oak in the middle with a tart finish. with lots of cherry and a tiny bit of chocolate.
  • Conclusions: I liked this wine. It was easy to drink and went with dinners as well as sipping by itself when watching tv. It isn’t really memorable, but it was definitely pleasant.
  • Other notes: I had this wine over the course of a few days and while I liked it when I first opened the bottle, it was better the second and third days. Bob thought this was “fine” but it wasn’t his favorite.
  • From the bottle: “Our Monterey Pinot Noir is a classic style of red fruit, spice, floral, and great acidity. A background of toasted oak and a soft supple texture on the palate create pure enjoyment.” 14.2% alcohol by volume.

Winter Park, Florida

With summer coming to an end, Bob and I decided to take a short weekend away just for a change of scenery. We didn’t plan a big trip this year since I was furiously looking for a new job (more on that later) and didn’t want to risk missing an interview if we were away. But Winter Park is only a few hours drive and it is a cute, quaint little town that has a lot of good restaurants, most with really good wine and beer lists.

We stayed right downtown – right in the heart of the old town which was both the best decision we made and the worst. The hotel was great – really awesome people, very convenient to everything and comfortable. The problem? Let’s see if you can spot it.

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That is the view from our room. Cute, right? Do you see the railroad crossing sign painted on the street? Yep. The railroad (which in most old towns is no longer running so no big deal) is still operational and frequently trains go by … including around 5:30 am one morning and 2:30 am another morning, Sigh. The price you pay for convince.

img_20180720_175317We really didn’t have an agenda with this trip. I know, no spreadsheet of places to go and restaurants to eat at, no pre-planned outings or specific exhibits to see. We wanted to relax, eat well and drink good drinks. The first night we were in Winter Park, we hit it out of the park (sorry, bad pun) with the restaurant we chose. The Parkview was a close walk and had some really interesting wines and beers. In my mind the food was secondary this evening, but it really impressed. I could not remember if I like artichoke or not – I don’t have it often enough to really think about it and I’m pretty sure it is one of those hit or miss vegetables – but I decided to go with the artichoke crostini and wow … just wow. The wine was also highly impressive and I again took a risk with Hanging Garden wine flight. These wines were from old and not as well know regions – Lebanon, Greece, Israel and Turkey – so not something I have every day. The Lebanese wine was my clear favorite from this bunch, but they were all really good.

On our only full day in Winter Park, we decided to walk to the botanic gardens. I love gardens and try to get to them in every city we visit. There is something particularly special about nature in the middle of a very developed area and this was no exception. It was hard to remember that we were just a few miles from Orlando proper.

img_20180722_090452_097As good as our first dinner was and as pretty as the gardens were, the highlight of the trip was the donuts. We happened by (on our way to the gardens, then stopped in on the way back) Little Blue Donut is this great place that does to-order donuts. Seriously. they make the general donuts, but they are super fresh and then they hand top them when you order. This was absolutely the best donut I’ve ever had, including Portland which is known for donuts. img_20180722_090452_093

For a really quick trip, this was just about perfect. I would have liked a little more sleep, but for the wine, food and scenery I’ll compromise. I was kind of glad we didn’t make it a full week, because that train would have driven me mad after about three days.