Classic Focaccia

If you’re even slightly a food person like myself, you’ve probably seen or heard about the new Netflix show Salt Fat Acid Heat. I admit that since its premiere, I have watched it through at least 3 times, crying, laughing, and planning food for the future. The premise behind the show comes from a cookbook of the same name, written by Samin Nosrat. Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat, the four elements of good cooking. Master the balance of these, master good cooking. The special is broken into 4, each in a different location and each tackling a different element. Unsurprisingly, the episode that I felt myself watching over and over again centered around Italy. Titled “Fat”, it tackled just what makes Italian food so good, from the olive oil, to the pork fat, to the cows milk cheese.

The recipe that caught my eye for sure was this focaccia, and even though I have a deep-seated fear of bread making, nothing was going to stop me from this. It is SO good, so crisp on the outside and light and airy on the inside, rich and salty and perfect for dipping in coffee (the Ligurian way) or eating straight from the oven. It reminds me so much of the Schiacchiata bread that makes the best sandwiches in Florence, which I’d get on my way home from school and finish eating before even getting to the steps of my apartment. I would give literally anything to be back there right now, but until then, this is pretty close to perfect. By the way, the original recipe can be found here, but I tried to keep this as close to the original as possible!

Before you go become your best bread-making self, here are 5 things to be happy about today:

ONE. Puffy winter coats.
TWO. Keeping your room cold so that you can sleep with two cozy blankets.
THREE. “Flannel Fridays”.
FOUR. Apple cider cocktails.
FIVE. Impromptu photoshoots.

Makes: About 24 pieces of focaccia
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Time: 12-14 hours
Bake Time: 25-30 minutes

Ingredients

2½ cups warm water
½ tsp active dry yeast
2½ tsp honey
5 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp large crystal kosher salt
¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Salt, for sprinkling
1½ tsp kosher salt (for brine)
1/3 cup warm water (for brine)

Steps

ONE. In a medium sized bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and honey and stir until dissolved. In another large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Add in the dissolved yeast mixture and the olive oil and stir until everything is just combined. At this point, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to ferment overnight or for at least 12-14 hours.

TWO. When the dough has finished fermenting and is more than doubled in size, spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil on an 18″ x 13″ baking sheet (a baker’s half sheet) so that the whole sheet is covered. Gently release the dough from the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula, and carefully add to the baking sheet. Add another tablespoon of oil and gently stretch the dough so that it covers the entire bottom of the sheet evenly. Because the dough will shrink at first, over the course of 30 minutes gently push the dough back to the corners until it stays.

THREE. Press your index, middle and ring fingers into the dough at an angle to make the signature focaccia dimples. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the warm water and salt until the salt has been totally dissolved. Pour this brine over the whole sheet evenly, and then proof for a final 45 minutes.

FOUR. About 30 minutes into this final proof, position your oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 450ºF. To bake, either place a baking stone on the oven rack with the baking sheet on top of it, or flip another baking sheet upside down and place the baking sheet with the dough on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is crisp and golden brown.

FIVE. To finish, generously drizzle olive oil over the top (it will sink into the bread), and sprinkle with flaky salt. Serve thick slices warm and try not to eat the entire sheet yourself, but if you do, I won’t judge.

YUM!! xoxoxoxox

Pumpkin Creme Brulee

Yes hello and welcome, I know I bring you another pumpkin recipe this week, but this one is a real showstopper so you won’t be mad for long. I’ll start with a question: what’s better that a creme brûlée? The answer? A PUMPKIN creme brûlée!! There is nothing quite as satisfying as taking your spoon and cracking that top shell before digging in to one of these, but the combination of pumpkin, cinnamon, and caramel waiting for you inside is a close second. I have adapted today’s recipe from this one here, changing around some proportions and things to make eight bigger pots, because who wouldn’t want more?


Creme Brûlée may sound daunting, but it’s actually one of the easiest things to make, the hardest part honestly being separating 12 eggs for the custard. I know, it feels like such a waste of egg whites, but save them for macarons like these or these how about?? You’ll be glad you did. But anyway, I promise you’ll be surprised how well these turn out, and how easily you’ll be able to trick people into thinking you’re a master of french desserts or something.

Before we get started as always, here are 5 things for you to be happy about at this very moment:

ONE. The fact that otters hold hands when they sleep so they don’t float away from each other.
TWO. A hearty stew on a cold night, complete with buttered noodles.
THREE. Finally thinking of a really great Halloween costume.
FOUR. Buying Halloween candy but ending up eating it yourself.
FIVE. Pumpkin beer with the cinnamon sugar on the rim.

Let’s go!!

Makes: 8 (9oz.) creme brûlées (4 oz. pots will yield about double)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 40-45 minutes
Inactive Time: 2 hours

Ingredients

12 egg yolks
3 cups heavy cream
9 tablespoons brown sugar (a little over ½ cup)
½ tsp kosher salt
3 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1½ tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp ground allspice
1 cup pumpkin puree
White sugar, for brûléeing

Steps

ONE. Preheat your oven to 300ºF. Since my ramekins are large, I used a 9×13″ baking dish plus another 8×8″ baking dish to fit all 8 pots, but whatever you can fit is fine, as long as the dish is deep enough that the top of the ramekin is about flush with the top of the baking dish. Line your dishes with a folded dish towel and place the ramekins inside. They can be touching, but just make sure they all fit straight, otherwise some custards will bake up lopsided.

TWO. Add all your egg yolks to a large mixing bowl and set aside. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the heavy cream, brown sugar, and salt until just simmering. Remove from the heat and add in your spices and vanilla, then allow to steep for 5-10 minutes.

THREE. Whisking constantly, add a little of the warm cream to your egg yolks to temper them (this will prevent the heat of the cream from cooking the eggs). After this is done, continue to add the cream in a slow drizzle until it has all been added to the yolks and everything is combined.

FOUR. Whisk in the pumpkin puree until smooth, then pour the whole mixture into a large measuring cup or something with a spout to easily pour. Evenly pour the custard into each pot, making sure to leave some room on the top.

FIVE. Place the dishes side by side in the oven and, while they’re on the racks, create a bain-marie by pouring boiling water into the large baking dishes so that they’re filled 2/3 of the way up the side of the ramekins, avoiding spilling any water into the custards themselves. This makes sure the custards steam and cook properly, and putting them in the oven before you do this means you don’t have to carry a heavy dish filled with hot water across your kitchen!

SIX. Bake the custards for 40-45 minutes, until set but still slightly jiggly. Cool the ramekins in the fridge for at least 2 hours before brûléeing.

SEVEN. To brûlée, sprinkle about a teaspoon of white sugar onto the top of each custard and gently shake so that the entire top is evenly covered. Using a kitchen torch, heat the sugar so that it caramelizes and spreads, until the top is one unified sheet of solid, caramel colored sugar. If you don’t have a kitchen torch, you can use the broiler in your oven, but watch very carefully because it can go from toasted to burnt very quickly.

ENJOY!! xoxoxoxD

Pumpkin Biscuits with Bacon and Hot Honey Butter

Well well well, another Tuesday is here, and boy do I have another fall recipe for you. This week, Pumpkin biscuits, but not JUST pumpkin biscuits. These babies are studded with crisp, salty bacon, AND just when you thought it couldn’t be better, I give you two words. Hot. Honey. Yes, honey infused with chiles, aka the best combination of sweet and spicy and an excellent addition to the softened butter you’ll be slathering on these guys as soon as they leave the oven. That’s right, hot honey butter is also included in this deal, and it is a MUST. Borrowed from a similar recipe in Southern Living and tweaked until just right, prepare for these biscuits to be your multi-purpose treat for soups, breakfast sandwiches, or anything else you can think of!

Don’t we look cute!!

This weekend, we tried to jam all the fall activities into three days and it was just lovely. With my sisters home for the long weekend, we did an Apple Festival on Saturday, where I stocked up on apples for some life-changing apple fritters (recipe coming soon!). Then on Sunday, we drove out to the South Fork of Long Island to the Hamptons and Montauk to window shop, eat food, and just all around enjoy the fall atmosphere. Columbus Day was saved for the decorating of our house, breaking out the bins of Halloween knick knacks and venturing to the garden center for mums, corn stalks, and pumpkins. A pot of Bolognese and the aforementioned fritters were also on the menu, so all ingredients for a good day.

But now with all this talk of good days, here are 5 things to be happy about to make your today a little better:

ONE. Finding that perfect pumpkin.
TWO. Long weekends, making Sunday night less terrible.
THREE. Hand pies.
FOUR. Dogs with food names.
FIVE. Bed and breakfasts.

Anyway, enough from me, let’s bake!

Makes: Approximately 12-16 biscuits
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 15 minutes

Pumpkin Biscuit Ingredients
adapted from Southern Living magazine

6 oz. bacon, finely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
2½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
6 Tbsp salted butter, grated
¾ cup canned pumpkin
½ cup buttermilk
1½ extra Tbsp salted butter (divided into 1 and ½ Tbsp.)

Hot Honey Butter Ingredients

1 stick salted butter, at room temperature
4 Tbsp. hot honey (or regular honey if spicy isn’t your thing)

Steps

ONE. Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Cook bacon in a cast iron skillet on medium high heat until the bacon is crispy. Drain the bacon on a paper towel lined plate and save the rendered bacon fat in a heat-safe cup or small bowl, we’ll need it in a bit! Wipe down your skillet with a paper towel and then place in the oven to heat.

TWO. Combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the butter and cut into the flour mixture using your hands or a pastry blender. I like to grate my butter for this because I find that a) it’s way easier to break up quickly with my hands without overheating it (warm butter = no flaky biscuits!), and b) the smaller bits are easier to distribute evenly throughout the whole dough. When coarse crumbs of dough begin to form, pop the bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes to chill.

THREE. In a small bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and buttermilk, then add the crisped bacon. Add this mixture to the flour mixture in the large bowl and stir until just combined, it’s very important that you don’t over-mix this or the biscuits will be too tough.

FOUR. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your biscuit dough to about an inch thickness. Using a 2½ inch round cutter, cut the dough into 8 biscuits. Remove your skillet from the oven and melt a ½ Tbsp. of butter with a ½ Tbsp. of the bacon fat from before and swirl to coat the entire pan. Arrange the biscuits in the skillet so that they’re all cozy and the sides are all touching. Brush the tops with another tablespoon of melted butter. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the tops are puffed and golden brown.

FIVE. While the biscuits are baking, combine the stick of butter with the 4 tablespoons of honey. Chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so if the mixture seems too soft. These biscuits are best eaten fresh out of the oven, halved, and generously buttered.

YUM! xoxoxoxoxD