My Savory Valentine

Rosemary focaccia with garlic-infused olive oil, sea salt and a sprinkling of parm — soon to be pressed either side of grilled chicken, pesto and smoked gouda.

Not everyone has a sweet tooth. Not everyone likes chocolate. Not everyone raids the local CVS for 70-percent-off candy the day after Valentine’s, Easter, Halloween. 
People have told me these things. And while I don’t necessarily believe them, I play along. After all, my love of food has no borders — well, it may stop dead in its tracks faced with cauliflower, but even then it may be turned on if a nice Indian curry is brought into the mix — and my kitchen doings aren’t all about the sweet stuff. In that spirit, bolstered by the knowledge that I’ll be making a mile-high chocolate cream pie for Valentine’s Day, I played to all the savory teeth out there and baked off some rosemary focaccia with garlic-infused olive oil, sea salt and parmesan cheese.

Now, I do not claim to be a focaccia expert (though I’ve made it several times). My forefathers and mothers did not make focaccia in their Swedish, Irish and German kitchens (Well, maybe they did. Who am I to say?). But focaccia, my point is, has to be one of the easiest breads to make. And so satisfying. Not to mention amenable to any changes/additions your heart may desire or your pantry/fridge may necessitate (sea salt and olive oil may be all you want, but pancetta and caramelized onions have made their way onto my focaccia and I’ve never regretted their arrival). Have it your way. My way usually involves rosemary, because I have this wild thing taking over our home:
Yes, there is someone playing a Wii behind the rosemary.

At our house, we like to eat focaccia warm, fresh out of the oven; as the foundation of our sandwiches, slathered with pesto; or in hearty slabs while we contemplate what to make for dinner.

Rosemary Focaccia with Garlic-Infused Olive Oil, Sea Salt and Parm
(makes one 11×17-inch flatbread)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar or honey
1 cup plus 2-3 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast (see my rant about instant dry yeast — still not over it)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (mine is infused with garlic, but regular is fine, of course — you can always rub the dough down with raw garlic or sprinkle it with granulated garlic, if that’s what you have handy)
generous shower of sea salt (to taste)
rosemary (to taste — I used 3-4 large sprigs), coarsely chopped
2-3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl), stir together the sugar, 3/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix flour with instant dry yeast. Let sit for about 30 seconds.

Add flour/yeast combo in batches to other ingredients, alternating with remaining water, mixing as you go. Work it until dough neatly clears sides of the bowl.

Switch to dough hook and knead for about a minute (or knead by hand on lightly floured board).

Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Lightly grease a baker’s half-sheet pan (11×17 inches).

Punch down dough, kneading briefly, then place it on the prepared pan, pressing and patting it to fill the pan.

Now the fun part: use your fingertips to make dimples (indentations) all over the dough. (I read online that some people actually have a kitchen tool called a “dimpler.” I love it for its name alone, but I won’t be buying one. My fingers are my dimpling agents.)

Brush dimpled dough with olive oil. Liberally sprinkle with sea salt, garlic, chopped rosemary and grated parmesan.

I am a lover of all things dimpled.

Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, rotating pan at the 7-minute mark.

Eat as is, warm from the oven, or as sandwich bread. (I couldn’t help myself and cut some of the flatbread into hearts, as seen in the opening photo, but I understand if that’s too adorable for you.)