Sunday, May 23, 2010

Focaccia, Antipasto, Burrata Bliss

I don't mean to gush but I feel I must over two wonderful items in this post. Number 1, I have a glass of wine in my hand right now and I am raising it to The Bread Maker's Apprentice cookbook. I am an unabashed lover of bread. I love to make it (see Whole Wheat post), smell it in the oven, look at it and savor that buttery taste hot from the oven. There is no way I could ever follow the Atkins diet, I love carbs too much to give them up. Now, make bread with a ton of olive oil, caramelized onions and other delectable toppings and you have focaccia or one of the most sinful of all sinful carbs.

The second item that goes so wonderfully with homemade focaccia is burrata cheese. I will never forget tasting this mound of creamy goodness for the first time at Cafe Spiaggia in Chicago on a truly unforgettable date. He, (said date), ordered the antipasto platter which included the burrata and although we were still getting to know each other, he encouraged me to taste the cheese. Taste I did and it was as if I had just eaten a piece of high quality mozzarella with heavy cream and slight lemon undertones. In other words, it was mozzarella with the volume turned up and soon my date's plate was empty with only a drop of olive oil remaining from my ravenous siege of his appetizer. Burrata is difficult to find but if you come across it, please do pick it up and use it as a wonderfully flavorful and creamy alternative to mozzarella.

To compliment the two items above, I also added in marinated olives and tomatoes, salami and roasted red peppers. I am posting the recipes for the olives, tomatoes and peppers as those are the three items for which the recipes are mine. I think posting the focaccia recipe would be a disservice to The Bread Maker's Apprentice cookbook which includes so many tips, hints and different methods for making this focaccia as well as so many other bread recipes. If you have any interest in proper bread making, in my humble opinion, this book explains better than others how to make quality breads of all kinds and I highly recommend it. Enjoy! AJ

Marinated Olives

24 large unpitted Spanish olives
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed
2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
2 garlic cloves, minced

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and marinate in refrigerator at least 8 hours. Serve at room temperature.

Marinated Tomatoes, recipe adapted from Fine Cooking

2 pints cherry tomatoes
2 scallions (white part only), chopped coarse
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a shallow bowl, mix the tomatoes, scallions, parsley, rosemary, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl and let the tomatoes marinate at room temperature for at least 1 hour, but preferably 3 to 4 hours. Stir them occasionally so that all the tomatoes are marinated. If the tomatoes are very ripe and marinate long enough, they will crack and burst, allowing their juices to mix with the marinade.

Roasted Red Peppers

4 large red bell peppers, seeded and cut in 1/2 lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 1/2 cups
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil on a baking sheet and place the peppers, cut side up on the oil. Turn the peppers over, season them with salt and pepper, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Place the warm peppers in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to cool for at least 30 minutes.

When the peppers are cool, remove and discard the skins. Slice the peppers and arrange them on a plate. Pour garlic or basil oil over the peppers and season with salt and pepper to taste.


  1. I have never had burrata sounds like heaven!! now I have to go back into philly and try and find it.....and by the way your antipasto and Focaccia are just perfect!

  2. I found burrata at Whole Foods a few times as well as a local (Oak Park, IL) cheese shop called, Marion Street Cheese Market