Ponderosa Queen + Snow = FOOD

Well it is now Monday evening.  For those who don’t know or who have been under a rock for the last 3 to 4 days, my corner of Virginia received a gift for the storm Helena. SNOW.  While Helena traveled up the East Coast and left many snow gifts along the way, this Virginian along with many of her friends, doesn’t drive in the snow.  I stay home snug as a bug in a rug at the Ponderosa. I am found  happily cooking in the Ponderosa kitchen, binge watching  Amazon Prime and Netflix, and sleeping in.  Because my little corner of the world gets paralyzed with so much as a dusting of snow comes, let alone 5-12 inches.  We were supposed to be on the high end of 12″ but thank goodness we were in the 5″ range.  So this snow has given me lots of time to cook.

Friday night found me in the kitchen making pizza.  That is the normal for Friday nights at the Ponderosa.  What goes on the pizza is always the mystery!  The snow hadn’t arrived yet, but I was like a kid at Christmas waiting on Santa.  Peeking out the door to see if the snow had finally arrived. Between the peeking and pizza making, I decided to make focaccia bread.  Thinking it would be the perfect bread for sandwiches to go along with the Italian Wedding soup I had promised to make on Saturday.

So to google search I went.  When making pizza I use Bobbly Flay’s recipe with a little tweak and a lot of love.  But for focaccia I needed a different recipe.  Anne Burrell popped up and I checked it out.  Loved what I saw.  Here hair may drive me crazy but she’s pretty spot on in the kitchen. So here’s how the focaccia making went down.

First, I text my good friend Maria to see if she still had a Rosemary bush in her yard.  Sadly, she text back that it was dead.  She then reached out to her neighbor Mike, but got the same news.  She offered some dried which I declined.  I had just gotten a shipment of spices from a place in Germany called Just Spices.  I decided that  I was going to use the Pizza Seasoning in my shipment.

Second, time to get the yeast all hot and bothered.  Not to hot cause that will just kill the mood and the yeast!  You need 1 3/4 cups of warm water(110 degrees).  My tip here is if you can put your finger in the stream of water and not wince at the temperature and it is comfortably warm, you are right on the money(temperature).  You can always invest in a thermometer.  I buy yeast in bulk so I have a yeast spoon.  A packet of yeast you buy in the grocery store is 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast.  So you need a packet of yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast plus 1 Tablespoon of Sugar.  I add the warm water, yeast, and sugar into the bottom of my Kitchen Aid mixer.  The dough hook is attached and itching to get to work.  But it needs to hold it’s horses for 15 minutes while the yeast gets all foamy and bubbly.

After 15 minutes your yeast should be looking like big beige pools of bubbles.  Now add 5 cups of All Purpose flour, 1 Tablespoon of Kosher Salt (which I discovered Izzy had used my entire box making body scrubs and bath bombs 😦 ) and 1/2 cup of olive oil.  Mix slowly at first unless you truly want to look like the Rice Krispies Commercial with flour all over your face, counters and mixer.  Once it has come together, continue to mix(knead) it for 5-6 minutes.  Then transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 1-2 minutes.  You will feel the dough become more together.  Add olive oil to your mixing bowl  and then add the dough back in it.  I have found that if I use Press & Seal to cover the bowl it makes the dough a lot happier.  I have in the past covered it with a tea towel, but I think in the winter it is best to use a different method like saran wrap or press and seal.  Then place the bowl in a warm area and let rise for at least 1 hour.

Pull out a jelly roll pan and pour a 1/2 cup of olive oil into pan and coat it well.  I know it sounds like a whole lot of olive oil.  I mean your arteries are clogging as you read this.  But let me tell you; it is SOOOOOO worth it.  Place the dough into the pan and start pressing it out and then flip it over.  This way both sides of your focaccia get loved up with olive oil.  You will continue to press it out to the sides of the jelly roll pan and while doing this poke your fingers deep into the dough to make an indention.  This gives the focaccia the rustic look you want it to have.

SO…….. I don’t multi-task very well.  In fact to put it bluntly  I SUCK at it.  I always jack something up.  No matter how many times I say, “I’ve got this” , I don’t.  In re-reading this recipe to walk you through how I made it I made a startling discovery. Now I want you to imagine me dropped jaw and look of shock on my face right now.  This jelly roll pan of goodness DOES not hop into the Oven of Lovin’ at this point.  NO IT DOESN’T.  It gets to hang out for another HOUR to rise yet AGAIN.  UMMMMMM confession time.  Mine went straight into the OVEN OF LOVIN’.  I mean straight into it.  No hanging out and rising for another hour.  Yep folks there you have it.  I didn’t follow directions.

So before I popped that fabulous looking dough into a 425 degree oven.  I sprinkled some salt and some of my Pizza Seasoning I just got for Just Spices on the top of the dough.  Then into the Oven of Lovin’ it went to not be seen of heard from for 25-30 minutes.  When your timer dings your focaccia should be brown and beautiful and ready for you to take it out.  You can let it cool or you can dive right in and burn your tongue.  Choice is yours.

Here’s mine.  Just think of how much more beautiful it would be if I had only followed directions.

From the Ponderosa Kitchen to yours!

Queen of the Ponderosa


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