Musing with Max

Musing with Max

January 8, 2011

Rediscovering the Joy on a snowy day

Being that Friday was my last full day at home (well technically Monday is but I'll be too much of a wreck to enjoy it) I decided I was going to enjoy it to the fullest and finally follow Frank's advice and "relax, have some fun". This hasn't been easy to do considering all the aforementioned workmen, heat, plumbing issues, etc. But this day was going to be it, its now or never, blah, blah, blah. It started to snow early, before Frank left and he yelled it out loudly. So I got up looked out the window and put Max's coat on
which made him grumpy. He hates the hood which is kind of useless since he has a pointy head and he managed to unhook it on our walk. What he, and Frank, don't get is that no matter what his coat makes life a lot easier because there is less of him to dry off when we get back in the house so he can do this
from the top of the stairs as I go down and then wind up here

which he knows he's not allowed to do. So after yelling at him to get off and going out to take a look at the "storm"

I decided that the best way to "relax and have some fun" was to make some bread. I love baking bread, the proofing, the kneading, the rising, the aroma, the warmth coming from the oven; and the pure gratification that I've actually baked bread. The problem is that with all that proofing, kneading, rising, etc. it takes a while; a good part of the day actually. Something which I don't always have the luxury of time for, today I do! And I know exactly what bread I want to make. I had just received the new issue of Food & Wine last week and had quickly leafed through it, and I must say it is probably one of the best issues they've had in a long time...and there was this recipe for focaccia which had me salivating the minute I saw it...and I can use my KitchenAid
Focaccia with Caramelized Onions, Pear and Blue Cheese
Recipe by Jill Giacomini Basch


  1. 1 cup warm water
  2. 1 package active dry yeast
  3. 1/2 teaspoon honey
  4. 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  5. 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  6. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  7. 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  8. 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  9. 1 large Bosc pear, cored and sliced
  10. 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese


  1. In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast and honey and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of the flour and 1/4 cup of the oil; let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining flour and the salt and knead until smooth. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic and let stand for 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the onion, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 10 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 450°. Oil a 9-by-13 inch rimmed baking sheet. Transfer the dough to the sheet and press it down to fit. Dimple the dough all over with your fingers and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let the dough rise until puffed, about 20 minutes.

4. Scatter the onions over the dough. Arrange the pear over the onions and sprinkle with the blue cheese. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the focaccia and bake for 20 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve.

This is as delicious as it is pretty, it's a little on the flatter side compared to other focaccias I've made; closer to a pizza. I did make some changes: I did not add the pear so instead increased the onion, I also did not add the honey to the dough mainly because I wasn't sure what that would do to the taste and I sprinkled the dough with sea salt before baking.
As much fun as this was, it really didn't take that long so I still had loads of cooking time on my hands. Let's see what to do? I know dessert! There's always chocolate of some sort in the house so I'm sure I can come up with something. I pulled out my old trusty "Joy of Cooking" which I've probably had for 35 years. I haven't referred to it for a long time but had looked at it recently for something and while leafing through it realized how complete and intelligible it is; I probably learned to cook from this book more than any other
I made chocolate cornstarch pudding

Easy, old fashioned and just plain yummy

The snow has let up by now and just left us with a beautiful winter wonderland
So on a cold snowy day, you need something to warm up your soul and your bones and your feet and paws

Pasta Fagioli

1/2 lb. bacon, diced.
1 garlic clove, minced
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons of dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cups chicken broth
2  cans (15 oz.) cannelloni beans
6 oz. dried pasta (can be penne, small sea shells, farfalle, orrichetti, just not long)
Salt & pepper to taste
Grated parmesan or romano cheese

In a large soup pot brown diced bacon over medium heat. Add onions; cook a few minutes, then add carrots and celery. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then add garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Add herbs and one cup of chicken broth, stir well and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about five minutes. Add the beans, bring to a boil, season with salt & pepper, stir in remaining oil. Serve, passing cheese at the table.

Now that hit the spot. How much fun did I have? I can't measure, it's priceless. A simple meal bread, soup, chocolate pudding...immeasurable Joy which shows you there's nothing like simplicity. And what was Max doing all this time?

Lying on his favorite couch...relaxing, having some that's priceless.

1 comment:

  1. Hola Amelia, acabo de descubrir tu blog y me encanta. Cuantas cosas bellas nos muestras y enseñas...Me quedo por aquí y me hago seguidora. Tenemos cositas en común, como un hermoso perro que forma parte de nuestra familia.Te invito a visitar mi blog, sé que te gustará...Saludos desde Barcelona