Monday, 30 May 2011

Get to know an ethnic market (part 1): taco night!

I love ethnic markets. Not only can you sometimes get your normal groceries for much less money, you can find all kinds of stuff you don't generally see elsewhere. I'm willing to try darn near anything, so for me, ethnic markets are a bonanza of fun new stuff.

I went this week to La Superior Mercado, which, as you might have guessed, carries Hispanic foods. I love looking around, and I settled on a few items: a chayote squash, a bag of tomatillos, a small watermelon, some chili-spiced mango (just for a snack), a jicama, and a bag of nopalitos (cactus), pre-spined and diced. My total bill was just over $7. On another trip, I had seen a bag of "soya texturizada," and although I only speak enough Spanish to understand Speedy Gonzales, even I could figure that out -- TVP! It was a little less than at the hippie store, so I picked that up, too.

Just for fun, my family periodically studies another country or culture, so we've been eating Mexican food all week -- tamales (store-bought), refried beans (recipe below), a sort of Southwest-y salad -- but tonight I was going to do it up.

In the morning, I made watermelon liquados.

Watermelon liquados

1 personal-sized watermelon (preferably seedless)
1 Tbs crushed ginger
1/4 cup lime juice

I took all the watermelon out of the rind and threw it in the blender. Then I added about 2 cups of water, the ginger and lime juice. I blended it all to hell, then strained it into a bowl. I poured it into a pitcher and put it in the fridge until later. It was delicious and refreshing. I saw several similar recipes online, and all of them added sugar "to taste." I tasted it and felt it didn't need any sugar, but you do what you like.



I also started my refried beans, which I make in a slow cooker. These are such a hit in my house that we have them once a week.

Refried beans

2 cups dry pinto beans
1 onion
1 fresh jalapeno, diced OR 2 dried chipotle or de Arbol chiles, whole
1 Tbs cumin
2 Tbs salt
9 cups water

Peel the onion, cut the stem end off, and cut it in half. Add everything else to the slow cooker and turn it on "high." Leave it alone for about 9 hours (anywhere from 8-10 is fine). Drain most off the water off, remove the dried chiles if you used them, then mash with a potato masher. Done.

This recipe is pretty flexible -- you can put it in the slow cooker the night before to soak, then turn it on in the morning, or you can assemble it in the morning. You can use fresh or dried chiles, and any kind of onion. I was worried the first time I left it on High all day, because almost all the rest of my slow-cooker recipes call for the thing to be left on Low, but High is just perfect and won't burn your kitchen down, I swear.

Your bonus tip this week is "Get to know a measurement." I don't recommend this for baking, because baking is like science, but it works for most other cooking. Figure out how much a tablespoon is -- measure one out and dump it in the palm of your hand -- and then estimate it from now on. How much is 1/4 cup of water? What does it look like? If you can get to know some basic measurements, it'll cut down on the time it takes to cook as well as the dishes to clean up afterward.
One tablespoon of cumin.

After I turned the beans on, we spent the day at the fair. When we came home, I started cooking for real.

Tomatillo salsa

20 tomatillos, mixed sizes
1 red onion
2 serrano peppers
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro
lime juice
salt to taste


Remove the papery skins from the tomatillos, and cut into chunks (I cut the small ones into quarters and the big ones into eighths).


Put them on a cookie sheet, jelly roll pan, roasting pan, or whatever. I didn't want to clean it later, so I lined it with foil first.

Cut the onion into quarters and add to the pan. Then halve the peppers and remove the stems (I would leave the seeds in -- this was a fairly mild salsa) and add them as well.

I cooked it at a low broil. If you only have one option for broil, and that option is "nuclear," then roast at a high temperature, like 500, instead. I checked mine after 5 minutes and shook them around, then took them out after ten minutes when there were some nice dark brown bits.


Then I added the entire contents of the pan to my blender, threw in the garlic, added about 2 Tbs of lime juice, 1 Tbs salt, and the cilantro, then whirled it around until it was pretty.


My daughter even liked it, and she really balks at spicy foods, so don't worry about the serranos.

Veggie tacos

1 cup nopales, spines removed and diced
1 cup TVP
1 package taco seasoning (or feel free to use the spices -- I was being lazy)
hot water (about 2 cups)

In a bowl, soak the TVP in 1 cup of water. Put a little oil or cooking spray in a large pan over medium heat. Add the TVP and nopales, then the seasoning and additional water. It won't brown in the same way that meat will, but it will heat through, the nopales will get tender, and the seasoning will get mixed evenly.


Chayote squash

(I consulted this recipe)

1 Tbs olive oil
1 chayote
1/2 tsp salt
1 packet Splenda (or 1/2 tsp sugar)
1 Tbs lime juice

Peel and julienne the squash. Heat a small pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Then add squash, salt, and sugar or sweetener. Saute, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes, then add the lime juice and saute for about three more minutes. Serve.

Like my knife skills?

Just kidding -- I have one of these and no appreciable "knife skills."

In a previous post, I advised you to check the comments on a recipe. I substituted lime juice on the advice of the commenters, and did the Splenda for that reason as well (actually, that was at least partly because I'm very, very lazy, and I'd have had to open a new bag of sugar). I left out the garlic because I was in a hurry, and I left out the pepper because my daughter is sensitive to spice. I had never tried chayote before, so I consulted the recipe because I didn't want to totally screw it up. As it turned out, my husband loved it, and said he'd prefer it to zucchini anytime.

Almost done!

I said it was taco night, right? So I diced a few tomatoes and three avocados. I set out shredded cheese. I shredded some iceberg lettuce (the one time I really love it is on tacos, for its crunch), and I warmed some corn tortillas. Then it was up to everyone to make their own tacos.

I ate the chayote as a side dish, whereas the husband put it on his tacos. The kid declared that she liked cactus, but wanted more fake meat. We all liked the salsa and liquados. If you don't count the prep work did in the morning for the beverage and the beans, this was a meal that I got on the table in less than 90 minutes, even though I made the salsa, taco filling, and side dish and mashed the beans. I mentioned before that I'm no Martha Stewart, and I guess I'm no Rachel Ray (whose show is called "30 Minute Meals"), either, but it wasn't a work night. I cook a lot faster on work nights.

Anyway, happy cooking! I called this part 1 of "Get to know an ethic market" because, well, let's just say I'm very lucky to live where I do, and more ethnic market posts are on the way.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

How to find (and adapt) a great recipe: Fettucini with chard and sausage

I still love cookbooks. I have a bunch. Most of them I found through good reviews, through friends who suggested them, or just through browsing at bookstores. When you find a good cookbook, you can usually rely on most of the recipes in there.

But this is the information age, and I like to find information quickly. I do a lot of Googling, and I find a lot of recipes online. But how to know what's good? I'll tell you.

Google recently changed the way it searches for recipes, and they now give preference to things from bigger sites and neglect blogs. Which, you know, the foodies are up in arms about. But I don't care that much, because frankly, I like the bigger sites. Most of them have ratings and reviews, and that's how I find a good recipe.

First, when I search, if I really want something simple and I don't find it right away, I throw in another term -- instead of "homemade pasta," I'll search for "basic homemade pasta" or "easy homemade pasta" or "simple," or whatever. Then I start looking for stars. Yes, really.

If a recipe has four or five stars out of five, I click it and look. Now, I don't mind making things with a bajillion ingredients or that take two days, but it's not my favorite thing to do. I'm lazy, so I want something that seems do-able. I scan the ingredients and instructions, then decide whether it's worth looking at.

If it is, pretty much the first thing I do is read the comments. Sometimes, they'll be all over the place, but most of the time, they're all in agreement. They will look like this:

Good recipe! I used my own crust though and substituted shortening for butter, plus I cooked it for ten extra minutes.

My family loved this! I took it out of the oven ten minutes early because it was already brown. Also, I left out the onions and kale and replaced them with sweet potatoes and bacon. Oh, and I brushed the crust with egg.

This was so easy, except that I don't really like white flour, so I made the crust with garbanzo beans.

Guess what? I'm not going to make that recipe. No one else seems to have done so.

On the other hand, sometimes you'll find one where all the commenters agree that it was very good, but next time they'll cut the salt, or that they cut the salt and it was fine, or that it was a tad salty. That, I will make. And I'll cut the salt. From what I can tell, the people who write reviews of recipes genuinely want to share information with you.

Here's an example. I wanted to try making my own pasta, and I did.

I searched for "basic pasta recipe" and this was the first one to come up. Have a look at it. It has 4 1/2 stars, and the reviewers are in agreement: add some olive oil and let it rest.

I used semolina flour, and I needed to add a little extra water, too. It should be a very thick dough, but not crumbly.

You can totally roll it out with a rolling pin and cut it with a knife, but I got a pasta machine for cheap a few months ago. It was a bit of a learning curve, because the first time, I thought you could just shove a lump of dough at it (What? Not like I've ever seen anyone use a pasta machine before!), but then I figured out you have to roll it out a bit first. To get it to feed through the machine evenly, you should try to roll it into a sort of oblong, which you can do by only rolling back and forth rather than turning the dough as you would with a pie crust.

You have to roll it through the fattest size roller once, then fold it over and roll it again. Then you can roll it through successively smaller rollers until it's however thin you want. I went to "7" on my machine, which felt pretty thin. Then I put it through the cutter.

My helper beats the egg.

Shh... it's resting.

Rolling it with plenty of flour.

My machine... shiny!

It's good to have help.

Rolled out.



Mixing with the greens.

About ready to serve.

While it was resting, I made the chard stuff. My family actually loves tomato-based sauces, but we had a big bunch of chard from the neighbors' garden.

2 Tbs olive oil
6 cloves garlic
1 bunch chard
2 Italian-style sausages (mine were SmartLife veggie ones, but you use whatever works for you)
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives
zest of 1 lemon
red pepper flakes
fresh grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large pan over medium heat, then add olive oil. Add the garlic and saute until it's golden brown. Add all the chard and cook slowly for about ten minutes. If you're using meat sausage, you may want to add it before the greens so that it gets a chance to cook thoroughly, but with veggie sausage, it just has to get warm, so I put it in after.
Add the olives as well.

Season with the zest and red pepper flakes and turn heat to low. When the pasta is cooked, add it (and a bit of the cooking water) to the big pan and let it all mix up for a few minutes. I grate the parmesan on it at the table. I actually didn't add salt, but you might want to.

Note: I cut the chard by cutting out the stem, then stacking 5 or 6 leaves on top of one another. Then I roll them up like a cigar and slice the cigar. Once you fluff the resulting spirals up, you have very thinly sliced greens. Works with anything flat and leafy.





This would have been super-duper awesome with onion, and I normally would add it, but I just forgot. Chop it, add it at the same time as the garlic, and go to town.


Wednesday, 11 May 2011

More roasting: the world's second easiest salsa

The world's first-easiest salsa is pico de gallo, where you chop up tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, peppers, and throw in salt and a squeeze of lime juice. This is the world's second easiest, because you throw them in the oven first.

8 roma tomatoes (other tomatoes can be used, but will be more watery)
1 onion
2 jalapenos
1 serrano
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tsp sea salt

Pre-heat the oven to 450. Slice the tomatoes in half. Peel the onion, cut off the ends, and cut in half. Cut the stems off the peppers and cut them in half (don't bother to seed them unless you're super-sensitive to heat). Peel the garlic cloves. Add tomatoes, onion, garlic, and peppers to a roasting pan coated in cooking spray. Put them in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes.

Add the roasted veggies, cilantro, lime juice and salt to a food processor or blender.

Whirl it around until it's the texture you prefer. Serve warm or chill.

(I couldn't wait.)

There's a lot of flexibility in this. If you just love heat, add more peppers or use hotter ones, like habaneros or scotch bonnets. You can start off only adding part of the lime juice or salt and stop adding when it tastes good to you. You can throw in any other ingredient that floats your boat. Have fun and experiment. That's half the battle to becoming a goodest cooker: learning through trial and error.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Get to know a technique: roasting (Israeli couscous with roasted veggies)

I think that to be a goodest cooker, you need to know a few techniques, and one of my favorites is roasting.

The benefit of knowing a technique is that, if you have something you want to cook, you have at least one go-to thing you can do without consulting a recipe.

The benefit of roasting, in particular, is that it makes EVERYTHING BETTER. Proof? Roasted garlic. You all know that garlic is awesome just by itself, but can you remember the first time you had roasted garlic? Sweet, warm, creamy... Ah. Well, it does that to other stuff, too.

Here's what to do: if you're using something that doesn't take very long to cook (mushrooms, sweet peas, asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes...), you can pretty much leave it whole and roast it for about 20 minutes in a 425 degree oven.

Anything that's hard or takes a long time to cook (potatoes, sweet potatoes, fennel, leeks, onions, carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips...) can go in at the same temperature (or higher, up to 475 or so) for about 45 minutes.

If you want to know if it's done, there are two tests. First, is it just a little brown? Potatoes look pretty golden-brown when they're done. Peas have brown spots.
Second, can you push a fork into it without throwing your weight behind the thing? Then it's probably good.

The absolute simplest way to dress anything is to coat it in olive oil, then sprinkle it with salt and pepper before it goes in the oven (sea salt is better but table is fine, fresh ground pepper is better but from the shaker is fine).

But here's where roasting gets fun. You can do nearly anything to these veggies. You can put fresh or dried herbs on them, you can add liquids like orange juice, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, flavored oils and more (harissa, sriracha, apricot jam, barbecue sauce, or your creative favorite), or any kind of dried herb or spice (I like smoked paprika on a lot of stuff, and crushed red peppers, too).

I can recommend kale or chard, with the tough stem removed, ripped into pieces (about 2 inches square, I guess), and tossed with a citrus-flavored olive oil, some salt, and red pepper flakes (go easy on the salt, as kale and chard shrink a LOT when cooking).

I like potatoes with almost anything, but especially chopped fresh rosemary (or, bless my trashy heart, Lawry's Seasoned Salt).

Sweet potatoes are absolutely awesome with just some nutmeg, but even better if you make a little sauce of orange juice, nutmeg, salt, pepper and maple syrup or brown sugar. Toss them in the oj mixture, then lay them out in the pan (you'll probably want to spray the pan with cooking spray).

I haven't tried it yet, but I'd be willing to bet those sweet peas would be delightful with some soy sauce drizzled on top, or even a dollop of hoisin in some rice wine vinegar.

Here was tonight's dinner:

Roasted veggies

2 cups sweet peas, the strings removed
9 very small carrots, washed but not peeled
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cup oyster mushrooms, stems trimmed
1 yellow onion, cut into very thick slices
1 bunch asparagus, ends snapped off

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
Coat a big roasting pan in olive oil, then add all ingredients and roll them around so they get coated in the oil. They cook at different times, so keep them separate. Sprinkle the whole mess with salt and pepper to taste.


After 20 minutes, remove the mushrooms, asparagus, and peas (you could take them out at 15 minutes if they were done enough for you -- they'd still have some snap, but might not be as sweet).

After 45 minutes to an hour (check on them), remove the other veggies.


Israeli Couscous

2 cups couscous
4 cups water

1/2 cup oil (your choice, I used flax oil)
1/4 cup lemon juice (or acid of your choice like cider vinegar)
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp dried herbs of your choice (I used zatar seasoning, but italian herb mix would be fine)
1 Tbs mustard (any kind)
salt and pepper to taste

Bring the water to a boil and add the couscous. Turn down heat and cook at a low boil for about five minutes. Taste to test for doneness (they should be just a little toothsome, but not mushy).


Put all the other ingredients in a Mason jar and shake them up. Pour over the couscous, then serve with the veggies. Can be served hot, warm, or cold.




To keep the pans from getting stuff stuck to them, which makes them a pain to wash, either coat them well with olive oil or spray them with cooking spray. If you want your cleanup to consist of wadding up a piece of foil, you can cover the pain in foil. It totally works.

You can do other stuff with these veggies besides just eat them. You can mash them, puree them, make them into soup, serve them on crostini (the onions in particular), put them on a sandwich (roasted sweet potato on a sandwich is like a miracle)... Roasted onions in potato soup would give it a whole different, sweet dimension.

You can control how big the pieces are, so think about what you want. With potatoes, I like about a half-inch dice, because then you get a crunchy outside and a bit of soft inside. If it's a bigger cube, you don't get as much crunch, and if it's a smaller cube, you get ALL crunch. I am particular about my crunchy-to-soft ratio. Broccoli can be in pieces about the size of golf balls or in tiny florets, but the tiny ones are going to get browner. I'd leave them big. I roasted my carrots whole (and by god, they were delicious), but they were very petite, freshly plucked carrots. Big old woody ones would be best sliced into rounds.

Finally, on the salad dressing. Dude. Salad dressing is an awesome thing to be able to make, and you can make it into almost anything you want. Make sure you have about twice as much oil as acid, and from there anything goes. I've added crushed berries, fresh herbs, dried herbs, mustard, crushed ginger... The oil can be nearly anything. I use flax oil because it's supposed to have Omega-3 fatty acids, which, as a veggie, I don't get much of*. But you could use olive oil, sesame oil (for Asian dressings), peanut oil, or even canola oil (I prefer the flavor of olive oil to just about anything else). Same goes for the acid. You can use balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, cider vinegar, rice vinegar (especially good with the sesame oil for the Asian dressing), lemon juice, grapefruit juice... Add the herbs of your choice and be creative. It takes just a couple minutes and homemade salad dressing can be very satisfying (and obviously, you can use it on grain salads, lettuce, or pasta).

*Some people who call themselves vegetarian eat fish, which is a good source of Omega-3s, but I don't. So there you go. Flax oil doesn't taste wonderful like olive oil does, but it doesn't taste bad, either. I like it in salad dressings because the other flavors overpower it.

In a couple days I'll update with another great roasted recipe -- roasted salsa. I hope you can use something here. If you try anything, for goodness' sake, try the onions. They're unbelievably sweet.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Look for shortcuts: Bread, pecan caramel sticky rolls, pizza crust and faux-caccia

I love bread. No seriously -- the Atkins diet would be the diet in my personal hell. I will eat bad bread or mediocre bread, but there is hardly anything I like more than good, fresh, hot-out-of-the-oven bread.

I've made bread plenty of times from the Betty Crocker book, from web sites on the internet, and I've even captured wild yeast to make sourdough. But you know what sucks about making bread? It takes SO LONG!

Most recipes ask you to proof the yeast, let the bread rise, knead it, punch it down, let it rise again. I could only make bread on my days off, and even then, I would have to schedule my errands around bread tasks. I would wake up in the morning and think, "You know what would be good for breakfast? Bread." And then I start looking at the work involved and decide we're having bread... for dinner.

So I started looking up recipes for no-knead bread. That's today's lesson. If you don't like the amount of work or time involved in some cooking task, find a shortcut. And find one I did.

First, I found a lengthy article on Mother Earth News. I read through it several times (it wouldn't have hurt them to do a Cliff's Notes version), then tried the bread recipe. In short, you mix up four loaves' worth of bread at once, then refrigerate it. There's no kneading, proofing... you mix four ingredients, let them double, then throw it in the fridge and take out some dough when you're ready to cook. On cooking day, you spend about 10 seconds forming it into a ball, then let it rest, then bake it. And there you have it: bread. I discovered I could do this all in the morning while I got ready for work and have fresh bread to take with me to my once-a-week potluck lunch.

Do you remember this commercial?

Bringing fresh bread that you baked in the morning before work is a little like that. People assume you slaved for hours and woke up at an ungodly hour, but in fact, it took about 5 minutes of actual work. Let them think what they will...

Anyway, I liked the recipe so much that I decided to get the book*.

My recipe is based on the Artisan Bread book and on some suggestions from their web site, mostly from the FAQ. But I made my own changes, too. For example, their whole wheat recipe calls for a couple extra ingredients, like milk and honey, and I really liked the simplicity of the basic recipe, so mine is a blend.

3 1/2 cups warm tap water
1 1/2 Tbs active dry yeast
1 1/2 Tbs salt
6 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (regular whole wheat works fine, too)
1/3 cup wheat gluten**

Mix everything up in a large container.

My favorite flour.

The other stuff.


Let it sit for two hours with a cover on loosely.


Put it in the fridge.


Okay, not done, but pretty close.

When you're ready (any time within the next two weeks), get your dough out. Throw some flour on it and some more on your hands.


The book says this makes four loaves, but to be honest, we really like bread, so I usually get three loaves out of it. I take about a third of the bread and just tear it away from the rest. Then, taking only a few seconds, sort of tuck the outsides of the chunk into the bottom. When it's roundish, put it on a floured something (a cookie sheet is fine, a pizza peel is fine... I usually put it on a sheet of parchment paper).


Let it rest for 40 minutes. Pre-heat your oven to 375, and when it's ready, bake the bread for 35 minutes.

You can dust the top with flour and cut a design into it for extra-fancy-pants-ness.

I don't have a pizza peel (just one more thing to store), so I use a cookie sheet with no lip. I put the dough ball on parchment paper and then both on the cookie sheet. I pre-heat the oven with a pizza stone inside, and when it comes to temperature, I position the cookie sheet over the stone, give it a little backwards jerk, and the bread should slide onto the stone.

They recommend putting another pan in the oven with some water in it to steam the crust. This works well, but so does just throwing a shot glass of water at the side of the oven, then closing the door really fast.

It also seems to result in a slightly lighter crumb (the airy softness of the bread) to form the ball the night before, cover it lightly with cling wrap, then let it rest in the fridge until you're ready to bake it.

I cook mine on a pizza stone most of the time (they're $20 or so at Target), but it works fine in a bread pan, too, or on a cookie sheet.



And there you have delicious, soft, homemade bread. My husband was hovering over it in the kitchen with a bread knife, a stick of butter and two jars of jam waiting for me to give the go-ahead. It's that good.

Pecan Caramel Sticky Rolls
Also in the book is a recipe for Pecan Caramel Sticky Rolls, and my husband LOVES those, so I decided to make them, too.

You take the chunk out (again, about a third of the dough), form it into a ball...

then roll it into a rectangle. Be super-duper generous with the flour on the board where you're rolling it out, your hands, the rolling pin... It'll stick otherwise.

For the topping:

6 Tbs softened butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
30 pecan halves

Mix up the softened butter with the brown sugar. Spread the mixture into the bottom of a 9" round cake pan and sprinkle the pecan halves over it. This is what 30 looked like...

So I sprinkled a bit more. Incidentally, pecans are fairly expensive, so I buy them at a warehouse store when I find them at a good price and store them in the freezer.


For the filling

4 Tbs salted butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
pinch of ground black pepper

We didn't have whole nutmeg to grate, and my family could really tell the difference and were sorely disappointed. Just kidding! We used powdered and nobody gave a shit. Mix all that stuff up and spread it over the rectangle of dough. At this point, it looks like there isn't much, but don't worry; you're going to roll it up, so every bite will have some filling. Also, because I am so very lazy, I considered not toasting the nuts, but it actually does add a lot of flavor. I just put them in a pan on the stove over medium heat while I stirred up the other stuff, and I shook it every once in a while. When it smelled good, it was done. (A note here -- to save myself some bother, I chopped the nuts in a food processor. Chopping nuts takes me a long time. It works fine with a knife, though.)

Now starting with the long side, roll it up. When it's a big log, cut it into eight pieces.


Arrange the pieces swirly side up in the pan, loosely cover it with plastic wrap, and let it sit for an hour. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and bake them for 40 minutes. Serve hot.


Normally, pecan sticky rolls would be made with white flour, and I know you're thinking that whole wheat sticky fat treats seem like they'd be disappointing, like they'd taste healthy. But I swear they're as sticky and sweet and delectable as they would be with white flour.

And now for two not-quite-additional recipes.

Pizza crust

To make this dough into pizza crust, tear the chunk, form the ball, and let it rest 40 minutes. Roll it into a circle(-ish) about 12" in diameter. Put the toppings on, then bake at 450 degrees for ten minutes. It's best on a pizza stone but can be done on a cookie sheet.

I call this faux-caccia, because sometimes people get hella picky over what is and isn't worthy of a name. Champagne vs. sparkling wine, for example. Or the small amounts of strong, dark coffee I make with my Aeropress which, the coffee nerds are quick to tell you, is NOT real espresso. I digress. Anyway, most focaccia has olive oil in the dough, so this is not a traditional focaccia. But it's delicious and will fool most people.

Tear a chunk, form it into a ball, rest it for 40 minutes. Then smush it out into a rectangle-y thing with your fingers. Go ahead and leave finger-dimples in the dough. Brush it generously with olive oil, then some sea salt and whatever else you like. I like a lot of finely chopped fresh rosemary, but dried herbs are fine, minced garlic is good, even thinly sliced tomatoes and asiago or parmesan. Bake it at 425 degrees for 13-15 minutes.

*I should probably note that I'm not selling anything, I don't get any kickbacks for anything, and I think that buying Rice Krispy Treats pre-made is silly.

**If you don't have gluten, can't find gluten, are afraid that you have a gluten allergy or that gluten is the root of all evil, or you just don't feel like shelling out a couple bucks, don't bother. It does, however, result in a fluffier loaf if you're using whole wheat flour.