Pie Pan Focaccia Bread

There’s something satisfying about having a quick and delicious go-to bread in the house.  This is mine.  I like fresh warm bread, as a snack or an accompaniment to a meal. Warm and fresh bread is delicious.  I don’t make my own pizza dough for this as it’s one of those things I typically make on a weeknight when I’m feeling lazy and a premade ball of pizza dough is one of those things I try to have on hand at all times.  It’s easy and totally delicious; sort of instant gratification food.

Everytime I make this it prompts BF to poke his head in the kitchen and sniff hopefully asking, “Focaccia?”  I almost always answer in the affirmative.  I am totally guilty of eating too much bread. I like it with pasta, soup, stew, quiche; in short everything.  I think it’s a quick way to bulk up a meal and still keep it delicious.  Admittedly, I’ve been known to make this particular concoction on a weekend afternoon as a snack for watching a movie or just because I want something savory and what’s around doesn’t work for me. 

This is a morph of the breadsticks my mom used to make when we were kids, which were always super crispy and delicious in a denuded pizza kind of way, but this is an entirely different creature.  This focaccia grew up from breadsticks (which I almost always overcooked) and my Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza with its crispy and delicious bottom.  This is decadent but so-so-so good.  Swoon-worthy.  I keep thinking that someday I will make something on here that takes less than a tablespoon of butter/oil, but what fun would that be?  Eat this fresh from the oven and share it.  It’s simple and fast.

Pie Pan Focaccia Bread
Note: This is not a classic focaccia bread, with the cornmeal and flatness, it’s pretty pouffy.  But that’s ok.  Also it cuts well with kitchen shears if you have them.

1 pre-made pizza dough (I prefer to get it from Russos in Watertown)
2-3 Tbs fresh green scallion pieces, fresh basil bits, or sundried tomatoes (whatever you’re in the mood for)
1 tsp coarse kosher salt (I use Diamond)
1 tsp garlic powder (alternatively use some fresh minced garlic, but the flavor will be harsher)
1 handful of shredded asiago/provolone/mozzeralla cheese
1-2 tbs olive oil

Preheat the oven to a searing hot 450 degrees farenheit.  Pour the olive oil into a deep dish pie plate or round cake pan.  Add the dough ball to this oil coated pan and cover all the dough with oil.  Poke the dough all over so it looks dimpled consistently.  Sprinkle salt, garlic powder, and scallion/basil/tomato on the dough.  Cover with the shredded cheese and toss the whole thing in the oven for 15-20 mins until it’s brown and the cheese is melted.  If you are responsible you will wash the dishes now; if you are me you will probably be more likely to go play a round of Mario Kart or beat level 1-1 in Super Mario Bros 3.  I have an inanimate love, its’ name is Nintendo Wii. I can admit that with pride even. Is anyone else as stoked for PAX East as I am?

Cheddar-Scallion Drop Biscuits

It’s January and I’m in full hibernate mode with soups and stews overloading my stove and palette.  I love them creamy, brothy, rich and thick; I’m there.  One thing I love even more than a good soup is bread to go with it though (see here for an example).  Last year, on an impulse, I bought the Cook’s Illustrated Soups and Stews magazine and found this recipe for drop biscuits.  Its simple, it’s delicious and I am obsessed with these biscuits.

I love biscuits and have since I was a small child. Biscuits meant that there was soup or something delicious to eat, usually slathered in butter.  Then I was obsessed with some Pillsbury ultra flaky ones that peeled apart into layers (which I may have loved simply by dint of the fact that they looked like pages stacked together and baked).  But as I (and my palette) grew up and learned more about baking I grew away from the Pillsbury biscuits in a tube and started to look for a perfect biscuit recipe.  My sister obsessively made some from The Joy of Cooking but I found them a bit dry and wasn’t a fan.  So I kept searching.

I got this issue of Cooks Illustrated for the ramen recipe (which I still haven’t tried; I really need to get some good miso) but instead found this little gem regarding perfect drop biscuits.  I tried it, thinking that at worst it would cost me some flour and buttermilk.  These were perfect, flaky and chewy without being messy or crumby.  These are flexible; I used them later to make shortcakes by adding some extra sugar and cinnamon and I almost always add a handful of good quality cheddar cheese and a few spices.  I love a recipe that is flexible like this and will move to be whatever I want.  Also there is none of that classic cutting butter in.  An ingenious method involving melted butter and really cold butter milk makes really consistent butter chunks evenly distributed into a simple flour mixture.

Cheddar-Chive Drop Biscuits
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated: Soups & Stews

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup scallions, chopped finely
1/2 cup good quality cheddar cheese (I used Cabot)
1 cup buttermilk (straight from the fridge and v cold)
1 stick (8 Tbs) butter, melted and allowed to cool a little bit

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.  Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, baking soda, scallions, and cheese to a large bowl and whisk them until evenly mixed (5-6) stirs.  In a separate bowl, or a 2 cup measuring cup, mix together the melted butter and buttermilk.  It will look lumpy and it will not be pretty, that’s ok.  It will taste delicious.  Add the butter/buttermilk to the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until just mixed, again 5-6 stirs.  Scoop out the biscuits onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush some additional melted butter or some milk on top of the biscuits or sprinkle some extra cheese on there.  Bake them for 10-12 mins.  They will be a light golden brown and totally delicious.  Enjoy these biscuits with whatever you want; I like mine at breakfast with an egg and some hollandaise or served with whatever soup I’ve made most recently.  Perfect.