Well we had a blizzard roll through Oklahoma today which meant one thing: snow day!! In other words, I got a paid day off work to read and cook. Needless to say, my kitchen has been full of wonderful aromas today! By far, a flavorful pasta is the ultimate comfort food for me. Pair a bowl with some hearty bread and I am a very happy snowed in cook :). So while other were making chili, cookies, and cobblers, I was scouring my pantry for some great, fresh ingredients.
Today I outdid myself! Not only did I make a phenomenal combination of pasta and bread….but I WROTE IT DOWN! This is quite the legendary feat for me, as I tend to create heavenly dishes and forget how I did it the next day. But today, I am able to grace you all with both recipes and pictures!
I have to say that my favorite recipes have a few shared characteristics:
- FULL OF FLAVOR.
- FRESH INGREDIENTS.
Today’s treats had all of these features and more! My mom was around to taste them and enjoyed both enough to ask for the recipe. So I’m very happy to give it to you below:
(Please pardon the picture quality. Working with what I have until I can purchase a higher quality camera.)
FOCACCIA WITH ONION AND DILL
Honestly, who can turn down a warm slice of focaccia? I certainly can’t. This focaccia, which I adapted from a similar Williams-Sonoma recipe, comes out perfectly, with just enough crisp on the outside to hold the tender middle inside. It’s honestly good enough to melt in your mouth. You can change up the seasonings if you want, or add some sun-dried tomatoes, olives, or cheese for taste. The possibilities are virtually endless…and very tasty 🙂 This is wonderful cut into wedges with a little butter, used as sandwich or panini bread, or served with a pasta like the one I made tonight!
Yield: 1 large oval
- 1 Tbsp active yeast
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 cups tepid water (110-115° F) **the temp of the water is very important! If it’s too cool, your dough will not rise and no one wants flat focaccia :(**
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
- 1 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
- 4-4 1/3 cups unbleached bread flour. divided
- 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh or dried dill
- Kosher or coarse sea salt for sprinkling
In a large prep bowl (about 2 cups), combine 1/2 cup of the warm water, yeast, and a pinch of the sugar until dissolved.
Let stand until very foamy, 10-15 minutes.
Add remaining water and sugar, the fine sea salt, 1 cup of the flour, and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Beat for about 1 minute with a heavy spoon until well mixed. Add 1 cup of flour and beat for another two minutes. The dough will have an elastic feel to it as you stir.
Add onion and dill (and any other seasonings at this point) and mix until combined. Beat in remaining dough 1/4-1/2 cup at a time until a workable dough is formed and the ball of dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Using lightly floured baking mat, countertop, or piece of waxed paper, gently knead the dough until it is soft and slightly sticky, no longer than six minutes. Add a little flour if it becomes too hard to work with!
Loosely cover with lightly-oiled cling wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
Layer a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread with 1/8 cup olive oil. This will make the bread brown and crisp on the bottom and makes for easier clean-up 🙂 When the dough is ready, lightly push it until it forms a large oval on the baking sheet. Cover again with the cling-wrap for rising.
*I highly recommend putting the dough in your cold oven to prevent drafts from interrupting the rising process. As this stagemakes all the difference in the relative latitude of your bread, this shielding helps a lot. Also, filling a pie pan or other glass or stoneware dish with very hot water and placing it on the rack underneath the dough helps it rise as well. It creates steam in the closed oven which promotes the dough’s expansion.
Let dough rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour.
Remove dough from oven and brush with remaining olive oil. Make indentions with your fingertips to give the bread its characteristic dimpled look. Cover loosely with plastic and let rise again, for 30 minutes, OUTSIDE of the oven this time.
The Williams-Sonoma recipe suggests placing a baking stone in the oven and preheating it to 425° F, and then placing the cookie sheet atop this. I like this method as well, but the cookie sheet can also be placed straight on the rack.
Remove plastic and top lightly with coarse salt. Place pan in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until browned both top and bottom.
TORTELLINI WITH BROWN BUTTER SAUCE
I must say that this a proud day for me. This is one of the best original recipes I have come up with me and I am so excited to share it! It will hopefully become a favorite for your family like it has for mine tonight. This recipe is scaled to feed two perfectly, so it could be doubled or tripled very easily.
Yield: 2 servings (1 1/2 cups)
- 1 small pkg. tortellini (I used three-cheese)/28 g.
- 6 Tbsp salted, butter *not margarine or any other imposter….BUTTER!*
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup shredded havarti or other soft, rich cheese
- 2 diced roma tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp heavy cream
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
In a large pot, bring 5 cups water to a rolling boil with a general pinch of sea salt. Add pasta and stir to keep it from sticking. Boil until tender, stirring occasionally, while working on the sauce. Drain pasta into a colander, but be sure to reserve some pasta water (about 1/2 cup). Return pasta to the pan and set aside.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
Once all butter is melted, add in shallots and garlic. Cook for 7-9 minutes, stirring constantly until the butter is golden-brown and very fragrant.
Add tomatoes and green onions and cook for two minutes or until softened.
Add havarti and cream and stir until cheese is completely melted and cream is incorporated.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from fire and pour over pasta.
Toss to coat tortellini and ENJOY!