earlier this week, my mom texted me a photo of some focaccia she had baked with sunflowers made of vegetables (bell peppers as the petals, kalamata olives as the pistils) and it was so beautiful and inspiring that i had to give it a try. and so this morning, i had my coffee and then devoted myself to a sunday afternoon in the kitchen and it was one of the most relaxing things i have done for myself in quite, quite some time.
if you have never ventured into trying your hand at bread-baking, focaccia is a beautiful introduction. it's essentially an italian flat-bread that requires little kneading, delicious olive oil and using your oily hands to make beautiful little indents that will carry flavor in all directions.
i used the onion focaccia recipe from Christine Ingram & Jeannie Shapter's book "Bread" and i don't think i'll ever need to use another recipe. the dough comes out incredibly moist (not dry and stale-like, like most focaccia i've had). i didn't need to add more flour or water when making the dough, which practically never happens in bread-making! and while the recipe calls for bread flour, regular flour was just as wonderful. i also opted for a cup of onions rather than a half-cup.
my husband would say i got "cute" with the design of the bread (he uses this term when anything normal has a bit of whimsy to it) and i so very much did.
for the vegetable floral design: i laid thinly-sliced asparagus and cilantro as the stems for the bouquet and red and white onions, bell peppers, kalamata olives and pepperoncinis for petals and pistils. my absolute favorite part was using capers as stem leaves ~ especially when eaten ;) i put all of these vegetables on raw and thinly-sliced and drizzled them in olive oil and finished with a heavy serving of sea salt on top.
i hope this inspires you to do a little "fridge dump" and make something really sweet out of such simple ingredients ~
by Christine Ingram & Jennie Shapter.
from the book:
"Bread: The Breads of the World and how to Bake Them at Home"