On Easter Sunday, I went to visit my friend Meg. We had a morning photo shoot to help promote her new show ‘Garden Wise’. Afterwards we had lunch together, which she made from scratch: fresh focaccia bread and salad from her garden. She had prepared the dough ahead of time so all she had to do was roll it out. We worked on the toppings together and she popped it in the oven (great idea for a party or to do with kids). The smell of bread baking filled the house, and I couldn’t wait to try it. She pulled the focaccia out of the oven, steaming hot and golden brown. We enjoyed it in the garden under the blossoms of the orange tree, truly a delicious meal. The taste of the warm, fresh bread dipped in olive oil was fantastic! The olives, rosemary, and garlic were a great combination. It occurred to me that maybe my life could be just a little bit better if I made my own bread. Here is the recipe if you want to give it a try for yourself…
Garlic & Olive Focaccia
Recipe adapted from Hollyhock Cooks: Food to Nourish Body, Mind and Soil cookbook
2 cups warm water
¼ cup local honey
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 cup canned black olives (drained & chopped)
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp. salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 ½ cups unbleached white flour
10 cloves crushed garlic
¼ cup olive oil
coarse rock salt
freshly grated lemon zest
In a large bowl, dissolve the honey in the warm water and sprinkle in the yeast. Allow it to stand until the yeast is dissolved and foamy, approximately 15 minutes. Add the chopped black olives, olive oil, chopped fresh rosemary, salt and whole wheat flour and mix well with a wooden spoon. Add the white flour until the dough is firm enough to handle with your hands and transfer it to a well-floured surface and knead in the remaining flour. Continue to knead for about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and put it in a warm spot until it doubles in size. This will take about 1 ½ hours.
Preheat the oven to 350. Punch the dough down and roll it out with a rolling pin to stretch out and evenly cover a lightly oiled baking sheet. Mix together the olive oil and the garlic for the topping and smear it evenly over the top of the dough. Sprinkle it with a small handful of rock salt, sprigs of rosemary, and lemon zest. Bake for approximately 45 minutes until bubbly and golden. Allow it to cool slightly on a cooling rack before cutting it into desired strips for serving.
All photos above by Jeanine Brandi McLychock
Jeanine Brandi McLychok is a photographer and landscape designer with an interest in food and farms. She specializes in documentary landscapes and portraits. Her work has been published in Edible Santa Barbara and she is currently compiling a photography show about the local agricultural landscape.
More about Meg West, (local landscape architect and sustainability advocate) and ‘Garden Wise’ at https://www.facebook.com/GardenWiseTelevision