Simple Focaccia


We really love Italian focaccia in my house so I knew right away this was what I wanted to make from Sweet as Sugar Cookie’s blog this month for The Secret Recipe Club. I pretty much stuck to the recipe and only reduced the yeast since you can use that much for about 6 plus cups of flour. Using too much yeast can give your bread an overly yeast taste so it’s good to use just as much as you need. You can also use any sort of seasoning that you would like and even work those into the dough. The seasoning that I love has sea salt in it so I chose to just sprinkle on the top so that it would not end up being too salty. This is the perfect size for a small family like mine and after I baked it I just sliced it into sticks and served with olive oil and it was delicious.

2/3 cup warm water (plus 1/4 cup warm/hot water for yeast)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 small tomato, thinly sliced and seeded

1. In a small bowl add yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup warm/hot water. Mix and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

2. In a large mixing bowl add flour, salt, olive oil and yeast mixture. Mix well and add water a bit at a time until a dough like consistency has formed. Knead for about 5 minutes.

3. Add olive oil in hands, cover outside of dough not working into dough and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, cover with a towel and place in a warm place for an hour.

4. Preheat oven to 375F. In an 8×8 inch round cake pan add dough making even and pressing fingertips all around top for indention’s. Brush remaining olive oil on top, sprinkle season and place tomato slices gently pressing into dough. Place into oven and cook about 20 minutes until bread is golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

Yields: 1 8inch bread

Spaghetti Aglio E Olio


This is the recipe that gets made the most often in my house I would say. My picky son loves pasta, but all he wants is spaghetti, olive oil, a bit of garlic and Parmesan cheese. After I serve him I add a few more things for my husband and I. You can use any sort of meat you like, but I always serve it this way and it’s perfect. Every week I buy freshly grated Parmesan cheese from the cheese counter, we go through a lot. Actually now that I think about it we go through a lot of pasta and olive oil as well since my son wants it so much. Spaghetti Aglio E Olio is a very traditional Italian dish and I can see why, it’s delicious.

1 pound thin spaghetti noodles
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
4 ounces breadcrumbs

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package. Set aside 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta.

2. Toast breadcrumbs along with cilantro in a dry saucepan until golden brown. In another pan, heat olive oil and garlic. Cook for a few minutes or until golden. Do not burn the garlic! Add tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.

3. Add spaghetti to the pan with olive oil and mix well. To prevent dryness, ladle some pasta water to the pasta. Cook for another minute or until desired state of al dente. Mix in toasted breadcrumbs and cilantro before serving.

Yields: 4 servings

Herbed Lamb Roast


My son’s favorite meal is lamb roast so I usually end up making it at least once a week. I usually make it the Moroccan way and use shoulder but I wanted to try an Italian version using the leg. One thing about the shoulder is that you can buy a pretty good size but it shrinks up to almost nothing while it cooks and with the leg you do not get that. You end up getting a lot more meat with the leg.

A lot of recipes say that you should substitute juices for recipes that call for wine but I have never been happy with the results and always find the meat to sweet and fruity. I have since replaced those recipes with ginger ale and wow the pan juices were as succulent as the meat.

1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf, torn in pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 (4-1/2 or 2 1-1/2 ponds) bone-in leg of lamb
1 cup ginger ale
4 small potatoes, halved
2 carrots, sliced thick

1. Pre-heat oven to 375F. In a food processor combine salt, pepper, rosemary, basil and bay leaf; blend to a fine powder. Transfer spice mixture to a small bowl; mix with oil and sage, mix. Place lamb legs in a roasting pan and with a pastry brush use entire spices all over.

2. Roast for 20 minutes then remove from oven add potatoes, carrots and ginger ale. Tightly cover the top with foil and place back in the oven and reduce the heat to 350F.

3. For the 4-1/2 pound lamb bake about another hour and for the two smaller ones only about 40 minutes. Serve lamb with vegetables and pan juices.

Yields: 4 servings