Grape Foccaccia

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If you’ve never tasted fresh concord grapes before, this is where that grape-y flavor that inspires all grape flavored things from your childhood comes from.  I never knew that there were fresh grapes that really tasted like this!  Concord grapes have a pretty short season, so get on over to your local farmers market and grab some before they’re gone.  I think you could also use red grapes for this bread.  They will bake up nicely, just won’t have that strong grape flavor like the concords.

Grape Focaccia, adapted from Lottie & Doof

Grape Foccaccia

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (105° to 110°F)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dry milk powder
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into bits
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups halved Concord grapes, seeded
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary needles
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado (raw) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

Instructions

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the water, sugar, and yeast. Let the mixture sit until foamy, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the milk powder and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the softened butter to the yeast mixture and mix well. Add the flour mixture and set the mixer to lowest setting. Mix for 2 minutes. Attach the dough hook , raise speed to medium-low, and knead for 8 minutes longer. The dough will seem really wet.

Brush a large bowl with a generous amount of the melted butter. Scrape dough into the buttered bowl and turn to coat with butter. Brush more of the melted butter on top of the dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a cool place (65°F) until the dough doubles in bulk, 1 1/2-2 hours.

Press the dough down with a floured hand. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form it into a ball. Place it on a large baking sheet brushed with melted butter and brush top with more of the melted butter. Cover the ball with a clean, damp kitchen towel and set aside for 20 minutes.

Divide dough in half and shape into two balls. Dip your fingers in melted butter and press and stretch each ball into a 8-9 inch circle. The dough should be slightly dimpled from your fingers. Brush tops with remaining melted butter, cover with the damp towel. Let the dough rise in a cool place for 1 1/4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Top the dough evenly with the grapes, rosemary and the remaining 2 tablespoons of salted butter bits. Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar and the salt. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and puffed around edges. Let cool before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Grape Foccaccia

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Gnocchi, Sweet Corn & Arugula in Cream Sauce

sweet corn arugula gnocchi

This past weekend was the last weekend for the farmers market I go to on a weekly basis.  (sigh) There are a few other ones in the area that don’t wrap until next month, but then it’s back to produce shopping in the grocery stores.  I am always jealous of those who live in places like California where there is a variety of fresh produce growing all year round.  I hope they all know how good they have it!  The only thing local I’m going to be getting in a few months are turnips.  (another sigh)

Good thing you can still snag sweet corn and make this easy pasta dish!  You could even use frozen corn if you can’t find any fresh in your area.  It’ll just make it that much easier too, since you don’t have to cut it off the cob.

Gnocchi, Sweet Corn & Arugula in Cream Sauce, adapted from Baking with Blondie

Gnocchi, Sweet Corn & Arugula in Cream Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-sized fresh sweet corn on the cob
  • 3 C fresh arugula
  • 1 pound potato gnocchi
  • 3/4 C heavy cream
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t fresh basil, julienne
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Instructions

In large pot, boil water and cook gnocchi according to package directions, adding in the corn on the cob in the last 5 minutes. Remove corn, transfer to cutting board. Drain gnocchi, but make sure to reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Don't rinse your gnocchi.

For the cream sauce, combine half and half, cream cheese, salt, garlic powder, fresh basil, and pepper in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium for about 10 minutes, stirring until cream cheese has evenly dispersed throughout sauce. Stir in reserved pasta water.

Slice your corn off the cob.

In a medium bowl, combine your pasta sauce, corn, gnocchi and arugula. Sprinkle with additional salt, pepper, basil, and crushed red pepper if desired.

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Banana Blondies with Chocolate Crust from the New York Times

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Oh how I love to turn my oven on in the fall.  My husband cannot understand how I can even think of turning on the oven in the summer months because it is so hot.  I cannot understand how he doesn’t understand my need for baked goods!  I am truly sad to see the exit of summer this year, especially since it was such a great one.  And even more-so because we’re expected to have another frigid, snowy winter this year.  I feel like I barely got to break out my shorts and tank tops!  Although that could be more due to the fact that hardly anything fit me.  Having a baby in April does NOT do any favors for the waistline come bikini season.  Neither does eating these blondies…  But they’re so good.  They’re so good you will eat them anyway and not care one bit about your waistline while you’re washing them down with that big glass of milk.  Just try to make it fat-free milk. :)

Banana Blondies with Chocolate Crust, adapted from The New York Times

Banana Blondies with Chocolate Crust from the New York Times

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ sticks unsalted butter (1 1/4 cups), more for greasing pan
  • 200 grams chocolate wafer cookies (to make about 3 cups crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus a pinch
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

Instructions

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment, and grease with butter.

Melt 1 stick of butter in a saucepan over low heat or in microwave. Put the chocolate wafer cookies in the bowl of a food processor and process to make fine crumbs. Add the light brown sugar, melted butter and a pinch of salt. Process until the mixture is the consistency of damp sand. Dump the mixture into the pan and press it into an even layer. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the surface is firm. Remove the pan and set aside.

Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 12 tablespoons butter, then let it cook until the foam subsides and butter turns a deep nut brown, about 5 minutes. Cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together bananas, eggs, dark brown sugar and rum. Whisk in brown butter. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and fine salt. Fold into batter along with the toasted walnuts. Pour the mixture over the prepared crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle top with flaky salt if using.

Transfer pan to oven and bake until the top is firm and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges with a few crumbs attached (or clean) but not wet, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack; cut into 24 bars.

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