Monday, August 22, 2016

Whole Wheat Focaccia with Olives, Cheese, and Rosemary

This bread actually started out as an idea for a sandwich. Well, it started with salad, but then it quickly turned into a Salad Nicoise sandwich with tuna and kalamata olives.

I decided that foccacia would be the perfect vehicle for my sandwich, and I decided to embed the olives in the bread. I mean, why not?

The bread was also a great way to use a new flavored olive oil I got from a company called Pasolivo. They have a lot of flavored oils, but the one they sent me was a rosemary oil. I adore rosemary, but it can be kind of strong, so I was fairly conservative with it here - I just used it for drizzling on top of the bread. The rosemary flavor isn't super-strong, but that's exactly what I wanted - a hint of rosemary that would compliment the olives and the final sandwich, without overpowering.

If you're using this bread as a stand-alone and you want more rosemary flavor, you could drizzle more oil on right after baking, or substitute rosemary olive oil for the regular olive oil in the dough. Or, even more fun, you could use the rosemary olive oil as a dipping oil for the bread.

Because I'm still in love with my new grain mill, I ground my own whole wheat flour for this. If you don't have a grain mill, of course you can buy flour. It's what most folks do, right? But ... if you want a grain mill ... well, check out this post.

Whole Wheat Focaccia with Olives, Cheese, and Rosemary

4 1/2 ounces (1 cup) bread flour
4 1/2 ounces (1 cup) whole wheat flour (I used freshly ground flour)
1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) semolina flour
2 1/4 teaspoons Red Star* active dry yeast
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water (or more, as needed)
2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1 tablespoon Pasolivo rosemary-flavored olive oil
1/2 cup pitted and halved Kalamata olives
1/4 to 1/2 shredded mozzarella cheese

Combine the bread flour, whole wheat flour, semolina flour, yeast, cheddar cheese, sugar, salt, water, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix slowly with the dough hook until it comes together. The dough should be soft and sticky at this point. If it's not soft, and is dense instead, add more water as needed.

I've found that freshly-ground flour tends to require less water, so if you're using store-bought whole wheat flour, you're likely to need another 1/4 cup of water, or possibly a little more.

Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is elastic.

Cover the bowl and set aside until doubled in size, about an hour.

When the dough has risen drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil into a quarter-sheet baking pan. Turn the dough out onto the pan and stretch, poke, and cajole the dough to fit the pan. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cover the pan (another quarter-sheet pan turned upside-down makes a great lid) and set aside for 30 minutes.

Drizzle the rosemary olive oil onto the dough. Use your fingertips to dimple the top of the dough randomly. Top the dough with the kalamata olives, spreading them evenly over the dough. Push the olives into the dough. Scatter the mozzarella cheese over the top of the dough. If you want more cheese, I wouldn't say no. But remember - it's not pizza.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through the baking time if your oven tends to bake unevenly.

Let the focaccia cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

Remember that sandwich?

I cut a piece of the focaccia in half and added mayonnaise, tomato, and tuna. It was really good.

*If you use a brand other than Red Star, let it soften in the water before adding the other ingredients.

I received the Pasolivo Rosemary Olive Oil as a sample for review. I decided to use it in a recipe, instead.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Ultimate Cheesecake for Fall with Pumpkin Spice, Maple, and Pecans

So, every once in a while, the nice folks at General Mills Cereal send me a little care package. Recently, the package contained exactly one thing: a box of Pumpkin Spice Cheerios.

I've said many times that Cheerios have been my favorite cereal since I was a kid. Chex are a close second, but if you offered me a bowl and some milk and told me to choose a cereal from every possible option, I'd choose Cheerios every time.

Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, though?

The first thing I thought of when I saw the box was cheesecake. I happen to love pumpkin cheesecake, and I thought the Cheerios would be perfect as a crust. And once I got the idea into my head, I absolutely had to do it.

Of course, pumpkin reminds me of fall, and once I had those ideas in my head, my imagination went a little wild. What could I flavor the cheesecake with?


How about a little maple? And then I started thinking about pecan pie ... I thought about adding pecans to the crust, but then decided to top the cheesecake with a little dulce de leche and chopped pecans.

This cheesecake is like all of fall's desserts wrapped into one tiny little dessert.

And I mean small. Very small. Not quite a single serving, but small enough that it only uses one single 8-ounce package of cream cheese.

This recipe is inspired by the pressure cooker cheesecake in The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book. If you have a pressure cooker - either electric or stovetop - you should get that book. It's amazing!

Tastes Like Fall Cheesecake
With Pumpkin Spice, Maple, and Pecans

1 cup Pumpkin Spice Cheerios (These are seasonal - use another type if you can't get them.)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 8-ounce package cream cheese (not lowfat or fat-free)
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg at room temperature
2 tablespoons creme fraiche* (or sour cream)
2 teaspoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
Dulce de leche, for garnish (optional), as needed
Chopped pecans, for garnish (optional) as needed

Set a rack into your electric pressure cooker (I used my Instant Pot) and add 2 cups of water. Have a 6-inch springform pan standing by.

Note: I have what appears to be a 5(ish) inch springform pan, which is pretty unusual. I suggest using a 6-inch springform pan for this recipe, if you have one. Your cheesecake will a little wider and a little less tall than mine, but that's fine. Mine overflowed the pan just a little bit, but you should be fine with a normal 6-inch pan.

Use your food processor fitted with the steel blade to turn the Cheerios into tiny bits and crumbs. If you have a food processor with multiple bowls, use the small bowl so you don't have to wash the bowl after. Add the butter and process until the Cheerio bits are all wet. You can also mix by hand.

Add the crumb mixture to the springform pan. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and a little but up the sides.

Put the cream cheese and sugar in your food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until smooth. Wipe down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well mixed.

With the processor running, add the egg and process until smooth. Next, add the creme fraiche, then the flour. Process for 1 minute.

Add the lemon juice, and vanilla, and maple extract and process again until it's combined. Scrape down the bowl as needed to make sure it's all well-mixed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Don't cover it. I know you want to, but don't.

Fold a double-thickness of foil (about 24 inches long) in half lengthwise. Use this to form a sling that will hold the pan and allow you to lower it into the pressure cooker and to remove it when the cooking is done. Lower the pan into the pressure cooker and crimp the ends of the sling to fit neatly inside the pot.

Note: my metal rack has handles, so I didn't make the sling. I've used a metal sling before, and it's pretty handy.

Lock the lid on the pressure cooker.

In an Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker: Cook at high pressure for 20 minutes. When the time is up, turn cooker off so it doesn't switch to the warming setting and let it reduce pressure naturally. After 15 minutes, vent any remaining pressure manually. (I haven't made this in a stovetop pressure cooker, so I don't know the timing for that.)

Unlock the pot and carefully remove the pan.

Let the cheesecake cool until you see that it has stopped deflating. It only takes a few minutes. Dollop small amounts of dulce de leche over the top of the cheesecake. Use as much dulce de leche as you like. I love the stuff, but I didn't want it to overwhelm the cheesecake. Let the dollops sit for a minute or so to warm up and soften, then spread the dulce de leche over the top of the cheesecake. Sprinkle the chopped pecans over the top of the cheesecake.

Let the cheesecake cool for 1 hour on a rack, then refrigerate it overnight before removing it from the pan to serve. To make it easier to loosen the ring, run a thin knife around the inside edge of the pan before opening the lock..

*Creme fraiche can be expensive, if you buy it. I make my own. Instructions are here to make it in and Instant Pot. Here's how to make it the old-fashioned way.

Thanks to General Mills for sending me fun products to work with! I was not obligated to write about this, or even eat it. But I just had to. Because ... cheesecake!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mockmill #Giveaway

Okay, I've never done this before. I'm so enamored with the Mockmill that I'm buying one to give away.

Yep, I'm spending my hard-scrounged money on this this just to offer it to one of my readers.

BUT! I also have a discount code if you want to buy one (ends August 31) where you get $80 off a Mockmill and other goodies.

The package will include the Mockmill, the Flour Power book, a copy of my own cookbook (Make Ahead Bread) since you could certainly grind your own flour for those recipes, and ... hmmm. Maybe some extra unannounced goodies. I'll have to see what I can fit in the box.

If I get A LOT of entries, I might add some extra goodies - either to the main prize or as additional prizes.

US addresses only. Sorry, Canadians and other non-US readers, I love you guys, but customs forms make me twitchy.

How much do I really love the Mockmill? Here are some recipes where I used it:

Coffee Coffeecake Cake
Bread Machine Loaf
Whole Wheat Sesame-Topped Loaf

I reviewed it here.

I have a focaccia recipe finished that you'll be seeing soon. Here's a sneak peek.

AND I just ordered more grain on Amazon and I bought some farro from the grocery store. You might think it will be hard to find whole grains to grind, but there are plenty of online sources, and there are probably things at the grocery store that you never thought about - like rice, barley, farro, and spelt. How about quinoa? And steel cut oats? Or you can take coarse-ground cornmeal and turn it into corn flour. How about that?

AND, if you talk to farmers at your local market, you might find some that grow wheat or other grains that are suitable for grinding. They might not sell them at the market on a regular basis, but they might be willing to sell you a 5-pound bag at a good price.

So, yes, this is something I'm using quite often. And while I imagine that I won't be quite this giddy about it in six months, I think I'll be grinding a lot more whole wheat flour and buying a lot less of it. Besides the fact that I like the results I get from it, I also found out that the whole grains have a much longer shelf life than flour. I've had whole wheat flour that has gone stale or rancid, which is a total waste of money. But whole grains can be stored for much longer. Think about it. Grains are harvested once a year. The whole wheat flour you buy in the fall (before the annual harvest) was ground from the previous year's grain harvest. And it's perfectly fine.

Please note that you need a stand mixer for this to attach to - it's not a standalone product. While KitchenAid is probably the most popular brand, it also fits other mixers that have the same power hub. If you have one, you know who you are, right?

This is a SHORT giveaway - just one week. So if don't win, I'm giving you time to BUY ONE before the discount is gone.

Buy a Mockmill with an $80 Discount

You can read about the discount and the package HERE or just go to the special sale page to choose one of the three options and use cookistry as your discount code to get a whopping $80 off the package.

I received my Mockmill at no cost, but I'm buying the one for the giveaway. Yes, I love it that much. I want everyone to have one!