Rosemary Focaccia

This recipe inspired us to make use of our rosemary plant, which stuck it out all winter in our back room flower box and is still going strong at the time of writing. We’ve rewritten it a bit to reflect our own preferences (more garlic, more rosemary) and writing style and include metric equivalencies, where appropriate. It’s not all that hard to make, but it does require a lot of sitting around. Maybe not even as much as described here, but the mystical bread alchemy stuff eludes me beyond a certain point.

380 to 414g (2 3/4 to 3 cups) all-purpose flour (German type 550)
3/8 t instant yeast
470ml (a little less than 2 cups) warm water (70-90°F, 22-32°C)
3/4 t sugar
3/4 t salt
3 T extra virgin olive oil
4 T fresh rosemary
at least 12 cloves garlic, roasted in olive oil until soft and lightly brown
1 t large flake sea salt, optional

  1. In the mixer bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 2 3/4 cups flour and yeast.
  2. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the water and mix until the dough comes together, about 3 minutes.
  3. Increase the speed to medium and beat until dough thickens a bit and is very smooth. Add extra flour a few tablespoons at a time if needed until a bit stiffer but still a very runny dough resembling melted mozzarella.
  4. Add sugar and salt and beat until just incorporated.
  5. Spray or oil a large stainless steel bowl and scrape the dough into bowl. Lightly spray the top of the dough and cover with a towel. Allow the dough to rest about 2-3 hours in a warm place. It may grow in size, but ours didn’t much, and it was still yummy.
  6. focaccia_doughCoat a 12×17-inch sheet pan with a heaping tablespoon of olive oil. Pour the dough out onto the sheet pan and coat your hands with some of the remaining olive oil. Spread the dough as thinly as possible without tearing it.
  7. Let it relax for 10 minutes and continue until the dough fills up most of the pan. Let it sit about another hour to see if it rises. And maybe it won’t at all, but that’s OK too.
  8. Preheat oven to 475°F / 246°C.
  9. Place the whole cloves of roasted garlic into the dough, and tuck fresh rosemary leaves partway into the dough (to keep them anchored), and then sprinkle the salt, if desired. Place the pan on the lowest shelf in the oven preferably directly on top of a hot pizza stone.
  10. focaccia_breadBake 13-16 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve almost immediately. Make sure hot oil doesn’t drip from the pan out onto your besandaled foot and cause your wife alarm as you shriek like a little girl.

Garlic Bread

Our Netto practically across the street from us has closed with very little warning (about a week). This is bad news; it means the only grocery store on the island is the Biomarkt next to the Netto. Not that the Biomarkt itself is inherently bad, but the selection is not terribly good and everything there is expensive. One of the things we won’t be able to just stop in and pick up at Netto anymore is frozen bake-it-yourself garlic bread.

But then I found this recipe — and maybe that’s a silver lining. This is fast, easy, cheap, and most importantly, tasty.

1 baguette
5 T (62g) butter, softened
2 t olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 t oregano
salt and pepper to taste
a little shredded cheese (we like fluffy parmesan)

Cut the baguette in half the long way, splitting it open. Cut the halves into serving-sized pieces. In a small bowl, mix butter, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Spread the mixture evenly on the bread slices. On a medium baking sheet, arrange the slices evenly and broil a few minutes, until slightly brown. Check frequently so they do not burn. Remove from broiler. Top with cheese and return to broiler another minute or two, until cheese is slightly brown and melted. Serve at once.


There are several different national versions of ‘pilaf,’ a rice dish. This is the Ukrainian version. I first had it at Natasha’s and I wanted the recipe, but she couldn’t give it to me because she didn’t have one – she just sort of threw it together instinctively. Not to be deterred, I searched around for a recipe and I watched her do it again for good measure. Here’s my take on it. Like many of recipes I seem to gravitate to, timing is everything here. And, it really needs to be served with a big salad.

¼ c sunflower seed oil
1 large onion, chopped
1½ lb stew beef (or lamb), cut into bite-sized chunks
15-20 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
1 lb carrots, shredded medium fine
2½ tsp salt (at least – season to taste)
1 tsp ground cumin
1½ c rice, uncooked
1½ c hot water

Do all of your chopping ahead of time so the ingredients are ready to add. In a large pot with with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil (it seems like a lot, but you need it) over medium-high heat. Drop in one piece of onion. When onion is black, remove it with a fork. Your oil is hot enough to cook with now.

Add meat to oil. It will spit, so be careful, but do not reduce heat! Allow meat to brown in oil, stirring frequently, for about 4-5 minutes. Now add garlic cloves* and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Next, add onion and cook for 3 minutes (or until translucent) and, finally, add carrots. Stir mixture frequently.

When carrots just begin to become tender and a little of the color begins to fade, add salt and cumin and stir just to mix in. Next add rice and hot water and turn heat to high. Make sure water completely covers other ingredients, plus about ½ inch extra. Stir just to combine, bring to a boil and cover with vented lid (best is a glass lid). You want to not have to stir the plov (although some stoves make this impossible), but you need to know when all the liquid has cooked off – at high heat, about 10 minutes. When liquid is cooked off, add another 1/2 cup cold water, turn heat to lowest setting, cover with un-vented lid and allow to cook for another 20 minutes.

*It sounds like an awful lot of garlic, I know. But if you add whole cloves – not even cutting off the bottoms – they have a mild, slightly sweet flavor. You can always reduce the amount if you’re really garlic-sensitive, but the flavor is so mild that I don’t think it’s necessary.

Gabe’s Family Hummous Recipe

Gabe’s grampa smuggled this recipe into the U.S. from Syria via Cuba back in the day.

1 19oz can of chick peas, or two of the smaller European-sized cans of chick peas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans, a.k.a. ceci beans, a.k.a. Kichererbsen
One Teaspoon of salt
Three tablespoons of Sesame Tahini (Ground Sesame Seeds in Olive Oil)
Four or five cloves of peeled garlic (you can use fresh garlic or minced in a jar)
Five tablespoons of Lemon Juice

1. Drain the chick peas and save the juice.
2. Dump everything else into the blender
3. Start blending and slowly add chick pea juice until you get the viscosity you like (we used about half of the juice we drained).

Note: we used 3 heaping teaspoons of minced garlic in our batch and it was strong enough for us.

We had some leftover minced parsley and threw that on there with a little olive oil and a dusting of Spanish pimentón (smoked paprika).