Musing with Max

Musing with Max

June 7, 2011

Crash and Burn

So my computer just up and crashed one day a couple of weeks ago...just like that, kaput! Everything...and I mean everything, gone. Depression ensued and total aimlessness. What to do? So I pulled out my old little itty bitty Sony Vaio which frankly sucks and I'm using that until I decide what to do. It goes off-line and back on somewhere between every ten or twenty minutes...who knows why. Then  I discovered it has no card slot for transferring my photos, which by the way I've had to start from scratch because did I mention my computer crashed and EVERYTHING is gone; so Frank has to transfer them (the new batch) into his computer and save it on the server which is what I should have been doing so I can get at them. Rivers rise in other places. Then that same week it just started to rain; after a lovely first and second week of May when it was warm and sunny and just plain lovely the temperature dropped and the rains came just when I was getting really into the gardening; bad couple of weeks there. Max was forlorn
he couldn't go outside to play

so he just stared out the door...wondering

until he got depressed too

As for me...I had to figure out how to pass the time. I know! I'll bake bread! Or better yet....

Herb Focaccia with caramelized onions adapted from

  1.  3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  2. 1 cup (packed) minced yellow onion
  3. 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  4. 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  5. 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  6. 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  7. Freshly ground pepper
  8. 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (105° to 115°)
  9. 1 cup lukewarm milk (105° to 115°)
  10. 1 scant tablespoon table salt
  11. 2 teaspoons plus a pinch of sugar
  12. One 1/4-ounce envelope dry yeast
  13. About 6 1/2 cups bread flour
  14. Cornmeal, for dusting
  15. Coarse salt, for sprinkling
  16. 1/4 cup ice water
1. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over moderate heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, reduce the heat to low and cook until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the herbs and a generous amount of pepper and cook for 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Stir in 1 cup of the water, then the milk, table salt and 2 teaspoons sugar.

2. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and the pinch of sugar in the remaining 1/2 cup lukewarm water until creamy and starting to bubble. Add to the onion mixture. Stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time, just until the dough becomes too stiff to stir. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. With the help of a dough scraper, knead in only as much additional flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Knead the dough until smooth, supple and elastic, about 5 minutess.

3. Generously grease a clean large bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn the bowl to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. If desired, label the bowl to remind you when to punch down and shape the dough. Set aside in a warm draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

4.Punch down the dough. Re-cover the bowl and let the let the dough rise again until doubled, about 1 hour.

5. Brush olive oil over the bottom of a 17-by-13-by-1-inch black steel or heavy aluminum baking sheet. Sprinkle cornmeal on the pan, then tap out excess.

6.Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a cornmeal-dusted work surface. Turn the dough over and over to coat lightly with cornmeal and shape into a rough rectangle. Lift the dough and place in the prepared pan. Gently pull, push and pat the dough so it fills the baking sheet. Let the dough rise uncovered in a draft-free spot until billowy, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

7.Preheat the oven to 450° and position a rack in the bottom third. If using a baking stone or tiles, place on the rack and heat for 30 minutes.

8.Dip your fingers in flour and make many deep indentations in the dough. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.

9.Place the baking sheet in the oven, toss the ice water on the oven floor and bake the focaccia for about 30 minutes, until the edges are crisp and a deep golden color. Using a long metal spatula, slide the focaccia onto a large rack to cool. To serve, cut into pieces with a serrated knife.
Notes Lauren Groveman is the author of The I Love to Cook Book: Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking for Family and Friends.

I feel better now.

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