Living in New Hampshire means long, cold winters, and by March and April we are so done with cold, and snow, and ice, and sleet - not to mention fuel bills, that by the first glimpse of bare ground and signs of the earth thawing, we go a little bananas. We want more. We cheer the daffodils poking through the dirt. We cheer sugaring season. We cheer the first night we don't wear two layers outside.
I have packed away my fleece sweatpants, worn nightly since December. I cheer the slow progress of the thermometer rising slowly, from -15 to a tropical 60 degrees. And I get inventive with supper, first making a strongly flavored anchovy focaccia sprinkled with rosemary, then sliding toward a more acceptable (to those who didn't grow up with fish of any sort, from cod to smoked salmon and pickled herring , shad roe to sardines, which we had growing up on the Cape) kale, potato, and linguica ( a Portuguese sausage that is delectable) focaccia that was an instant hit.
I use a recipe from Nick Malgieri's cookbook, The Modern Baker. He has a distinctive way of making the dough (seen here) that makes a tender crust that is simply delicious. I cut the recipe in half for a small focaccia for two or three.
The focaccia dough:
2 cups King Arthur flour, all purpose
1 t. kosher salt
1 heaping teaspoon dried rapid-rise yeast
3/4 cup warm water plus a few tablespoons warm water if needed
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Combine the flour and salt in a heat proof ceramic bowl.
Whisk the yeast into the warm water, then add the olive oil.
Using a rubber spatula, make a well in the flour and pour in the liquid.
Stir the liquid into the flour from the center in a circular motion, from inside to outside.
If the dough is too dry, add another tablespoon or two of water to the dough until it forms a soft ball.
Add a bit of olive oil to the bowl and roll the dough gently around , then cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Briefly ( about three minutes) preheat oven to 250F, turn off heat, and place bowl in oven until doubled in bulk - about an hour.
Grease a cookie sheet/jellyroll pan with olive oil and scrape dough into pan. Gently pat and spread the dough with your fingers and palms, shaping a free form oblong shape. Cover with oiled plastic wrap, and set back into the barely warm oven, letting it rise until doubled.
Remove the dough from the oven, turn heat to 400F. Dimple the dough with your fingertips and drizzle with a tablespoon or so of olive oil.
Braised Onion and Anchovy topping:
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 T. olive oil
1/2 tin anchovy fillets in olive oil
rosemary or oregano to taste
1 t. kosher salt
1/2-1 cup coarsely grated parmesan cheese
On slow heat in a skillet, braise the onions in the olive oil until very soft. Stir in the anchovies and herbs. Spread onto the focaccia dough and top with the parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes, remove to cool. Cut into squares and serve.
For the kale, potato, and linguica topping:
2 cups kale, torn off the stem
2 red potatoes, medium dice
4 tablespoons salsa ( I use Green Mountain Gringo)
1/2 package linguica, sliced or diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
Hefty drizzle of olive oil
1-2 t. kosher salt
In large saucepan, simmer the potato in just enough water to cover until it is just tender. Add the linguica and cook 10 minutes, then add the kale, cover, and cook until just wilted. Using a spoon, spread the salsa sparingly on the dough. Strain the potatoes, kale, and linguica, and arrange on the dough then drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake in preheated 400F oven for 20 minutes, remove, cool, serve.