Rosemary and Thyme Focaccia

foccacia-pic
I am still in love with paninis, and I don’t see that love wavering any time soon. I wanted to make the Chicken Frontega Panini with my own foccacia. As excited as I was for this to happen, my foccacia came out delicious, but too oily for my panini press. It squished all the ingredients out. To my Mother-In-Law’s advice, I dried out the bread in the refrigerator for a day, and it was perfect! Although I could not use it right away because of it’s oil-content, it became a dream. Besides, I couldn’t stop eating it even without any sandwich fillings. It’s great alone, toasted with butter–dipping in sauces. The possibiities are endless.
Making foccacia isn’t difficult, but it doesn’t provide instant gratification as you need to wait for the yeast to work its magic. Save this for your day off–make it in the morning, and indulge for lunch. This is very much worth the wait.
This is the perfect fall recipe; your house will spell like an herbal oasis. Enjoy!
*Although you can use any other pan, this recipe is tailored for a cast iron skillet. I also believe the cast iron skillet delivers in getting the right texture for a good focaccia. If you don’t have one already, invest! They’re very inexpensive and will last for life!*
INGREDIENTS
  • For the dough:
  • 2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast* (a package is fine)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (you can scale back to one tablespoon if you don’t love herb flavors)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (you can scale back to one tablespoon if you don’t love herb flavors)
  • For the herb drizzle:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme, or more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • sea salt
  • freshly cracked pepper
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Combine milk and brown sugar. Warm in microwave for 1½ minutes or until about 110-115˚F. When you stick a finger into the mixture, it should feel hot, but not so hot that it’s uncomfortable. If it’s not warm enough, place back in microwave and cook at 15 second intervals till temperature is correct. If you’re new to yeast, I recommend using a thermometer. They’re very inexpensive. Once the liquid is the right temperature add yeast and stir. Let stand until foamy about 5 minutes. Add two tablespoons of the olive oil.
  2. Using the dough hook on a stand mixer, mix the flour, salt, rosemary, and thyme. Add the yeast mixture and mix until a soft dough forms, about 2 minutes. Continue to mix with dough hook for 5 minutes. **If your dough is too wet from the oil, it’s okay! Focaccia is very forgiving, so you can simply leave the wet dough to rise in the cast iron pan even if it’s not a ball. As long as the dough rises over time, you will get the right texture.**
  3. Move the dough to one side of the mixer bowl, drizzle a bit of olive oil into empty side of bowl and then turn the dough until lightly greased. Cover the bowl with a  damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk (size), about 1 hour.
  4. Combine all of the ingredients for the herb drizzle in a small microwave-safe container. Cook on high for 30 seconds to release the herb oil and flavor. Set aside to cool.
  5. Preheat an oven to 425°F.
  6. Using your fingertips, press down firmly into the dough to make dimples about ½ inch apart and 1 inch deep. Drizzle the herb oil evenly over the dough. Gently rub with your fingers to evenly distribute the oil. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and let sit for another 15 minutes. Feel free to add more spices/herbs directly on top as well like I did!
  7. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 25 minutes until golden brown on top. Let cool in the cast iron skillet. Slide the focaccia onto wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with more fresh thyme and rosemary leaves, if desired.

Thyme and Rosemary T-Bone Steak with Potatoes and Broccoli

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Happy Saturday!

I don’t think there is a meal out there that is more satisfying than a steak. To be honest, I eat burgers more than I eat steaks, but when I do have a hunch for a steak, I just have to have it!

I have a fairly good amount of experience with steak and flavor combinations as I worked in a steakhouse as a waitress. I have had my share in making dry rubs, wet marinades, savory toppings like bleu cheese crumbles and caramelized onions. In addition, my father always had a keen sense for how steak should taste (he’s partial to Prime Rib).  Honestly, there isn’t much that is necessary for a delicious steak, but what will sure kill its flavor is overcooking it.

I apologize if I offend anyone, but you really should not be eating steak over medium rare. I love rare to medium rare (believe it or not–I range depending on the cut of steak!) I know that the blood for some people is too much, but really–eating carcinogenic charcoal is a lot more unnerving to me personally. To me, the flavor of the steak comes through when it’s prepared the proper way.

There are many cuts of steak I love to prepare, but I think one of the most romantic cuts (that is, a steak you can split for two), is a T-Bone steak. What I love about the T-Bone is that it’s two different steaks inside one. One half is a New York Strip and the other half is a Filet Mignon. The only problem with cooking a T-Bone steak is that the Filet Mignon, because it’s much smaller in proportion to the New York Strip, will naturally cook more quickly than its counterpart. This is only good is your significant other likes slightly more cooked meat and is partial to the Filet, but if you are sharing equally, you need to be thoughtful to how you prepare your steak with the challenges presented: two different meats, and a bone. Steak on the bone has definitely more flavor, but with the bone inside, the steak will be rarer near the bone and thus appear uneven.

I used to get really pissed off when customers would send a T-Bone back at my job; they would eat almost their entire steak, and then bam! They would cut near the bone and freak out when they saw a little blood. If only these patrons knew that the bone is blocking the distribution of heat hence the rarer inside. Ugh. At least now you know! Knowledge is power.

This meal is great if you are looking to cook a simple, romantic dinner for two.

I decided to make this mostly foolproof by using a few tricks…

1.) The steak is “reverse seared” which means it’s slow cooked in the oven for a short amount of time and THEN seared in a hot, cast iron skillet. Many times, people try to sear the outside first and then finish in the oven, but there is less consistency. If you want more control, this is the method for you.

2.) I used my microwave for my vegetables. Sue me. They taste wonderfully.

3.) Even though I use a few short cuts, I am ultimately using the freshest ingredients: the best meat I can find, fresh herbs versus dried (sorry!), and freshly cracked pepper and salt to form that wonderful crust.

Alright, enough talking. Let’s eat!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pound T-Bone Steak (or any other steak of your choice)
  • 1 Steamable Potato Bag (go for petite potatoes or even red potatoes)
  • 1 Steamable Broccoli Bag
  • Four cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of Canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon of butter (salted or unsalted–your call)
  • Fresh thyme (at least 5 sprigs)
  • Fresh rosemary (at least two sprigs)
  • Freshly cracked salt and pepper (no table salt!)

Meat and Greet

  1. Take your steak out of the refrigerator so it comes to room temperature. Lay it out on a plate and add salt and pepper liberally. With a garlic press, smash four cloves of garlic and press them deeply into the steak.To infuse the steak with herby flavor, take off thyme leaves and rosemary leaves. You will remove these herbs before cooking.
  2. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Get a wire rack and baking sheet. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up.
  3. While you’re waiting for the oven to pre-heat, make your potatoes. Get olive oil, thyme and rosemary leaves (about 1 sprig of each–more to taste) and rub them on all the potatoes before microwaving. Throw the potatoes in the microwave (it’s usually about 8 minutes) once they are all evenly coated. You may need to microwave them again to make them fork tender (about another 2-3 minutes.)
  4. Once the oven is pre-heated, put the seasoned steak on the rack (take off the herbs). Cook the steak in the oven (flipping mid way through) for about 30 minutes (could be more if the steak is really thick–look at it every 10-15 minutes to be careful!)
  5. Take the steak out and let it rest. In the meantime, heat up your cast iron skillet with 1 ounce of Canola oil (it has a high smoke point) on medium high heat.
  6. Once the skillet is hot enough, sear the steak on about 2-3 minutes per side until a crust forms (this will create a medium rare). Towards the end, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and throw in some whole thyme and rosemary sprigs for aromatics. Baste the steak in the melted butter. Remove the aromatics (the sprigs) after about two minutes.
  7. Let the steak rest. As the steak is resting on the rack, microwave your steamable broccoli. Once the broccoli is done (about 5 minutes), add salt and pepper.
  8. You may re-heat your potatoes in the microwave on a plate with leftover thyme/rosemary leaves, or you may crisp the potatoes up in the already hot cast iron skillet–your choice!
  9. Slice thinly to share, or you may split the Filet Migon from the New York Strip. Your choice! 🙂