|Coronation Grape Foccacia|
As foodies we gather our inspiration from many different sources. Perhaps a new cookbook or magazine, a cooking show, a stunning meal at a restaurant or dinner at a friends home sends the imaginary wheels within our mind turning. Wherever our ideas come from recipes creep into our heart and soul and ultimately make it to the table for the ones we love. I often have ideas lurking in the back of my mind and sometimes a real winner surfaces.
The idea for this particular bread came from several sources. When first arriving at our earth shattering cuisine du terroir dinner on God's Mountain placed on the table were stunning savoury Coronation grape fougasse. These were a tease for what was to come as well as dispelling any hunger pangs we might be experiencing since eating at noon. Secondly I have been wanting to recreate a recipe from David Rocco called Schiacciata. It's a traditional bread seen all over Italy in September and October in celebration of the grape harvest. Tuscans make this not-too-sweet dessert or snack of bread dough and grapes, said to be of Etruscan origin sprinkled with sugar. I wanted the sweetness of the grapes but wanted to lean more heavily on the savoury side with the addition of garlic and rosemary. Therefore my Coronation Grape Foccacia was born which would keep my foot in both the sweet and the savoury camps.
The combination of fruit and herbs is one that’s been lurking at the edge of the popular food world for several years. And while professional chefs at cutting-edge restaurants may be successfully marketing basil ice cream and strawberries in fennel-seed sauce, the concept hasn’t quite caught on here at home beyond pepper and balsamic vinegar to mascerate strawberries. Most of us tend to pair sweet stuff with spices and savoury with herbs, with the occasional maverick like lavender floating somewhere in the middle.
I decided to take one of many tentative step towards culinary freedom today, when I first tasted a mild, soft focaccia with a touch of red wine studded with grapes pressed lightly into the dough, scented with rosemary and garlic and sprinked lightly with sea salt. Your guests will love the surprise of each bite.
The fall grape harvest is in the air and the wonderfully aromatic violet-blue Coronation grapes are market ready here in the Okanagan Valley. These sweet, incredibly intense grapes make this bread what it is and while it may be traditional to use wine grapes, I don't think I would appreciate that bit of roughage from the seeds here. The grapes cook on top of the bread, bursting their juices into the dough which absorbs it, some of the juices caramelize on the outer edges providing a smokey caramel flavour to the sweet collapsed grapes on top. Rosemary adds a savoury note and a generous sprinkling of salt adds to the flavour. What you end up with is a simple, puffy bread, full of the goodness of the grapes and one of those dishes that simply screams autumn harvest.
We were lucky enough to receive an abundant gift of apples, pears and coronation grapes from one of our patients at work. For those of you who don't know my 9 - 5 job is working at several doctors offices. When you have too many Coronation grapes for words freeze them!!! Freezing grapes is simple. Wash, dry and de-stem grapes. Pack in airtight containers and freeze. No sugar is required because the natural high sugar and acid level in British Columbia Coronation Grapes act as a natural preservative. Your kids and teething babies can eat them as a snack right from the freezer. Frozen grapes can replace fresh grapes in every recipe as they retain their intense colour and flavour and hold their shape when thawed.
This weekend was the beginning of the annual Okanagan Fall Wine Festival. This celebration of the harvest is a perfect marriage of wine and culinary tourism. For the next ten days in October, it offers a tantalizing experience for anyone who loves fabulous wine accompanied by fine cuisine. And what better way to announce grape growing season than to hold a Festival during harvest season! Fall is the perfect time in the Okanagan to watch the grapes ripen in the sun and indulge yourself. During the festival you can experience vineyard tours, lunches, dinners, events and the fall wine harvest at over 100 wineries in the valley. For the next 10 days guests and locals enjoy their choice of over 165 events throughout the valley which are focused on wine, food, education and the arts in one of North America's most spectacular settings.
Thanks to our emerging reputation as a destination for serious wine connoisseurs (plus the fact that we have easy access to hiking, beaches and powder skiing) Frommer's has named the Okanagan Valley a Top Travel Destination with the Okanagan Wine Festival one of the top 100 events in North America. You'll find the majority of British Columbia's wineries and vineyards nestled in the Okanagan Valley....we have at least 100 at last count. Hot, dry weather, sheltering mountains and rich soil blend to create one of North America's most productive wine regions next to the Niagara region in Ontario. The picturesque backdrop to many of these wineries is worth the visit alone with lush vineyards and soaring views. Some wineries are open year-round for tours and tastings, however, most wine-related activities occur spring through fall.
I will be cooking with wine all this week until October 10th in celebration of the harvest...even with one of my favourite comfort foods...macaroni and cheese. So stay tuned to see what I come up with.
**Coronation Grape Foccacia**
heavily adapted from a recipe by Anna Olson
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 pkg) instant dry yeast
3 tablespoons dry red wine
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup tepid water (just above body temperature)
2 ½ to 3 cups Italian "00" flour OR 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour and 1 to 1 ½ cups pastry flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup Ontario Coronation grapes, washed, stemmed ( 250 mL)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary(30 mL)
1-2 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
Sea salt to taste
Stir together yeast, wine, honey, and warm water in a large bowl. Stir in 1 cup flour (mixture will be lumpy). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in draft-free place about 40 minutes, until doubled in size.
Add ¼ cup olive oil, 1 ½ cups flour, and salt and stir until a sticky dough forms. Knead dough on a floured work surface; gradually adding up to 1/2 cup more flour if necessary to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic but still soft, 8 to 10 minutes (I prefer doing this by hand, instead of in a mixer). Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise an hour, until doubled in size.
Sprinkle a 6″ square of flour on the counter. Use a scraper to transfer the sticky dough to the bed of flour, then dust the top of the dough liberally. Pat the dough into a rectangle and rest it 5 minutes.
Coat your hands with flour and stretch the dough from each end to twice its size. Fold it into thirds, letter style, back into it’s original rectangle shape. Mist with oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let rest 30 minutes.
Repeat the stretch and fold 2 more times, allowing the dough to rest for 30 minutes in between. After the last fold, allow the covered dough to ferment on the counter for 1 hour. It will swell, but not necessarily double in size.
Line a sheet pan with parchment or wax paper, drizzle with ¼ cup olive oil and spread it with your hands. Gently transfer the dough to the pan using your oiled hands and scraper.
Use your fingertips to dimple the dough and spread it to fill the pan. Avoid tearing or ripping the dough. If the dough becomes too springy, allow it to rest 10 minutes before continuing. Fill the pan as well as you can, keeping a uniform thickness. (If not using right away loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 3 days. Remove the pan from the fridge 3 hours before baking.) Gently push the grapes down into the dough; you want them semi-buried, not just resting on top. Drizzle with oil as desired, and dimple it in. In each dimple alternate slivered garlic and small sprigs of rosemary. Cover again, and allow to proof at room temp for 3 hours or until the dough doubles in size. Sprinkle liberally with coarse salt.
Preheat the temperature to 450° F. Bake foccaccia for 10 minutes; rotate the pan 180°, then bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from the oven, and transfer the foccacia from the pan to a cooling rack. Peel the parchment from the bottom of the dough. Cool 15 minutes before serving.
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