I’ve had a handful of meals that I would consider particularly memorable in my life. The meal after Travis and I got married in Savannah, Georgia immediately comes to mind as well as the meal Travis and I ate in a revolving dining room overlooking Niagara Falls. Then there’s the meal I shared with my family at Pinocchio’s restaurant at Disney World overlooking the It’s a Small World ride. Hey, just because I was probably 8 and eating chicken fingers doesn’t mean it wasn’t life changing.
I’d have to say that definitely in the top 5 most memorable meals in my life so far was the meal Travis and I shared in Rome in a little plaza overlooking the Pantheon. There are things that just don’t fade in your mind such as the red gingham tablecloth, the fact that it was probably 45 degrees but the heat lamp next to us kept us warm, the view (of course), and the FOOD. Focaccia was served along with my entree of Fettuccine Alfredo in a Parmesan cheese bowl. Yes, best day ever.
prepared biga (I could have used a larger bowl)
Let’s think about this a little longer to let it sink in. There was a basket of focaccia served to us, perfectly crisp from being smothered in olive oil before baking. There was Fettuccine Alfredo, possibly one of my most favorite dishes. There was a BOWL made out of Parmesan cheese. A BOWL, people. It was wonderful and I loved it. I ate it all. You don’t let focaccia and Parmesan bowls go to waste when you’re in Italy. You just don’t.
I won’t pretend that this focaccia can come close to the memory that I have of that meal. I have to face the fact that I do not live in a plaza next to the Pantheon so it’s a bit hard to recreate the mood. BUT, I will say that the time that goes into this bread is worth every last mouth-watering bite. You will not be disappointed. The ingredients are so simple but scrumptious when combined the right way. The bread isn’t greasy from the olive oil. It’s rich and crisp and wonderful. I have nothing more to say than go now. Go now, and make this bread. Now. Please.
Prepare the biga the night before baking the focaccia - combine 3/4 cups of lukewarm water and 1/4 teaspoon yeast in a medium bowl. Stir to dissolve. Mix in 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in warm spot for at least 8 hours.The biga should be light and airy when it's ready.
Combine the remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons of yeast and 1/4 cup water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the biga, 1 cup of water, 3 cups of flour and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix for about 2 minutes on low, add 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt, and mix for another 3 minutes on low. If the dough is sticky, add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour in small increments until it is no longer sticky.
Place the dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil and cover with a damp kitchen towel.
Let it rise is a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. Knock down the dough and fold it over a few times before covering again and letting it rise another 45 minutes.
Coat two 9" metal* cake pans with olive oil (about 1/2 tablespoon each). Split the dough in 2 and place half in each of the cake pans. Spread the dough out until it reaches the edges. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise for about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Use your fingers to poke indentations in the dough. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil over each focaccia (this will pool in some of the indentations). Sprinkle the rosemary and sea salt (I used pink sea salt but regular sea salt is good too) over the focaccia and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.
Cool on wire racks before serving.
Make sure to start the biga for this recipe the night (or at least 8 hours) before trying to make the bread. It's a long process, but worth it!
Pretty much everything in this recipe is divided! Please note the amounts needed for the biga and for the bread-making process in the directions.
*I tried this recipe in a glass baking dish and it did not come out as crispy as when I used the metal pans. However, you could use an 8x8" or 9x9" metal baking dish if you do not have round cake pans.
Having a newborn has completely changed my view of food. My food thoughts these days consist of things such as: “How can a little baby pack away that much food? He must be a magician,” and “I’m SOO hungry…I will eat anything. Seriously. Anything.” (Breastfeeding moms, are you with me there? I can eat all day and still be hungry). Oh, and my favorite recently pondered question is whether or not I have somehow turned from human to milk-making machine. Because sometimes I feel like that’s my new job. Actually, that is my new job along with professional cuddler, diaper changer and swaddler. I’m learning on the job. I think my client is happy but he doesn’t talk yet.
Along with these very deep and profound thoughts (hey, they’re profound if you’ve been sleep deprived), there’s just no more TIME! I was always the person that used cooking and baking as my calming factor after a busy day. Kind of like yoga for someone who can’t balance on one foot. No joke, I made a hot dog the other day on an indoor electric grill and was proud of myself for the amazing feat I accomplished…I don’t even like hot dogs! Well, except for at a good summer cookout. But that was one good hot dog because I made it myself! One step at a time…I’ll get back to making full meals I’m sure!
So I guess where I’m going with all this rambling is that despite the fact that the next several recipes I’ll post, including this kohlrabi and potato recipe, are fairly simple and 100% delicious, I was smart enough to stock up on recipes and photos prior to baby’s arrival. I don’t feel like you all would be impressed with a recipe on how to make a hot dog. Just a hunch.
Back to the reason you’re here…I’m pretty sure everyone has heard of potatoes so let’s jump right to the kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is a mystery ingredient for many. I must admit I had no clue what it was or how to use it prior to acquiring this fine specimen from VanScoy Farms awhile back (again, I made this before the little guy arrived). After some research, I found a simple recipe and was on my way. I personally think kohlrabi kind of tastes like brussels sprouts a little. You can disagree though. I won’t take it personally.
To prep the kohlrabi, remove any stem or leaves. Slice it into quarters and cut the core out. Peel the kohlrabi through the outer fibrous layers (if you have a bigger kohlrabi like I did, make sure to get through all the outer layers to the completely white part or you’ll end up with tough sections. I learned from experience). After that, you’re ready to dice and use!
Let’s start with the good stuff. I was able to make this delicious rosemary cheddar squash bread recently which was AMAZING! I’m so used to seeing zucchini or squash in sweet cakes or breads. This recipe was quite the welcome change and totally worth it! When my in-laws came to visit recently my mother-in-law brought me some gorgeous squash from VanScoy Farms in Ohio so of course I immediately started thinking of options. After eating some of it plain because, yum, I used about half of a yellow squash to make this bread. Also, yum.
The rosemary adds that lovely earthy flavor that I adore. I am obsessed with the fact that our rosemary is finally growing in our back yard so I was super excited to put it to good use. You can certainly mix up the herbs in this recipe to fit your taste or use dried herbs if you don’t have fresh (but try the fresh if you can!). Chives seem to always be in abundance in our yard and it’s a perfect pair for this savory bread. Also, let’s at least mention how the olive oil is SPOT ON in this recipe and adds more earthy, savory flavor that can’t be replicated without it. Scrumptious!
Now to the not so good stuff of the week…the worst thing that could possibly EVER happen to a food lover happened this week. Yes, my oven broke. Dun dun duuun. I was making Travis his birthday dinner (steak and mac and cheese, of course) when all of a sudden my oven popped and sparked and then it started beeping and beeping more and beeping louder and LOUDER and then the dreaded “error” suddenly appeared on the little screen. *Sigh* Keep in mind, the beeping kept going. And of course this entire time I was panicked from the loud pop and spark and was absolutely CERTAIN the oven was about to explode. I can be a little overdramatic at times. But hey, an oven freak out is not something that happens everyday.
After I got my head a little more together, which was hard with the beeping from the oven that would not go away, I decided the best route of action was to turn off the electrical fuse. Travis was running an errand so I was pretty proud of myself to think of this…even if it’s fairly obvious. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the right fuse so I was becoming more and more panicked as everything else seemed to turn off EXCEPT the oven. And the beeping. just. would. not. go. away!! Luckily as I started to reach maximum panic, Travis showed up and took over the situation. Thank goodness for handy husbands that can read panic on their wives faces.
I am happy to say that dinner was mostly done at this point, so we were still able to eat an unfortunately somewhat average birthday dinner due to all the issues. Nonetheless, it was food and it was cooked. Also, in other good news, my handy husband was able to order a new electronic panel (which apparently is what shorted and popped and sparked) that showed up magically fast and the oven is working very nicely again. No explosions did occur in this situation despite my panic and all is well in my kitchen again. We only ended up with a few days thrown together leftover meals until the oven part came, so I really can’t complain that much. Let’s just say, I love my oven when it works. Especially to make things like this squash bread!
Veggie fried rice has quickly become one of my “go-to” recipes. It’s quick, healthy, and pretty darn delicious. Travis and I started eating it fairly regularly for lunches with some leftover grilled chicken or pork on it. Best. Lunch. EVER! Also, really easy to transport since it’s not liquid-y or anything. That’s a good thing since Travis tends to throw his lunch container in his work bag along with everything else important. Anyways, we also eat it as a side dish, which one may argue is probably it’s main purpose. However we do eat it for dinner…as a main dish. I eat it for 7th meal (pregnancy does that to you). We basically eat it nonstop.
I think the best part of this dish is that it’s so simple and so versatile. The vegetables included in this are vegetables that I almost always have and if I don’t I can leave something out or switch it up with something else. The other ingredients in here are staples in my house so I almost never have to get more than 1 or 2 things total for this recipe. And if I do have to get something, it’s easy because it has become one of those recipes that I pretty much have memorized. That’s something that happens rarely for me so it says a lot.
I’ve also gotten my family addicted to this recipe. I’m not sorry that I’m such a good influence on them all. I made it for my sister and brother-in-law who loved it and then they went back home to Ohio where they promptly made it for my parents. My 15-month old niece is a fan. What can I say? It’s a dish for everyone!! Note that the serving of 6 is more for a light meal or side. I heard rumor that for 4 people and a toddler my family might have doubled the recipe and eaten almost all of it for dinner. Just a rumor. I have not verified this officially.
If we get down to business, there is one thing to point out. The rice needs to be refrigerated before using it in the recipe. This just ensures that the rice doesn’t get all sticky and clump together. You can try the recipe with fresh made rice if you’re short on time or a person who doesn’t read directions well. *hint, hint…read directions well first* I find it’s super easy just to make some rice when making dinner the night before I make this then refrigerate it. Also, another note…if you use vegetable broth in place of the water to cook the rice you have MEGA flavor. It’s worth a shot, but I’ve also used water for my rice many a time and it’s still scrumptious.
Veggie Fried Rice
Fried rice packed with vegetables and everything delcious
1 cup diced bell pepper (I used a combination of orange, red, and yellow)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or pot. Add the diced carrots, onions, garlic, and ginger. Saute about 3 minutes.
Add the broccoli and bell pepper and saute an additional 3-4 minutes, or until the vegetables start to become tender.
In a small bowl, scramble the eggs. Push the vegetables to 1 side of the pan and pour the eggs in to the pan. Stir the eggs until cooked and scrambled.
Add in peas, corn, soy sauce, sesame oil, and brown rice and stir everything together.
Cook until the rice and frozen vegetables are warmed through.
*To get the right amount of brown rice I used just over 1 1/2 cups of dry brown rice with about 3 cups of water. I have used vegetable broth to replace the water for the rice and it was delicious! It works best if the rice is refrigerated overnight or at least for a couple of hours so it doesn't all stick together.
School’s out for summer!! When I think of summer, I think of lots of fun and good food and rest. This quick and easy salad full of refreshing and colorful watermelon, cantaloupe, and cucumber is PERFECT to start your summer out right! It’s flavorful, sweet, and crunchy. Full of melon and cucumber that will keep you cool and hydrated! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Must try dish. It’s seriously too simple not to try.
I made this dish when my in-laws were in town and it was a hit! The cucumber is a little unexpected, but a beautiful and refreshing addition to this salad. The honey adds a hint of sweetness and the mint is just plain delicious! The lime isn’t an obvious flavor, but it brings everything together perfectly. It’s like summer in a bowl. Yum-o-yum.
If you haven’t figured out, I’m a little excited for summer. And by a little I mean *extremely* excited. It’s been a long school year full of great things but also lots of stress. My growing belly also makes it hard to run around chasing kids like I did so easily a few months ago. To say the least, I’m ready for a break!
This summer break comes with lots of new adventures including getting the nursery ready for our little man making his debut at the end of summer/beginning of fall. It also comes with the uncertainty of what is to come being a mom. I’m planning to take some time off to be with the baby. I cannot wait to be a full-time mom but that also means leaving behind my job that I love and wondering what if I will lose my mind when I’m home day after day with a non-verbal tiny person. And by non-verbal I mean a person that will just cry until I figure it out. So technically verbal. Just in a language I know nothing about. Oh boy!
Don’t get me wrong, I will love every minute of being home with the little guy. I really mean it when I say this is a new adventure…adventures are always worth it in the end! But please forgive me in advance when my posts come out less often after baby comes because I’m changing my 1,000,000th diaper and crying in a corner. Ok, maybe not crying in a corner…but you never know. You never know. I’m not making any promises.