|All photos by Holliday|
I wanted to challenge myself last night and try to make a complete meal from scratch. Since I live alone I am constantly on the lookout for meals that can be tailored down to serve one without many leftovers. I am burnt out on chicken so I headed out to the store to find a small steak to cook up and a small bunch of asparagus. Well, there really isn't such thing around these parts - most food is sold in portions for at the very least two people... two people with mammoth appetites. Maybe I just never noticed it before, but a small packet of sirloin steak (1 lb) is enough to make 4 single meals out of. And since the meat was on sale for about $4/lb I went for it. My initial plan was to buy a single small steak at the butchers, but the packaged 2-pack (of the same cut) was a better price - don't as me why, I just grabbed the smallest packet before I got cornered by the expansive family of 5 following me around the store.
I made quick work of the rest of my store trip, grabbing asparagus, green onion, active dry yeast and a bottle of beer. On my drive back across the bridge I started putting together what I wanted to make. I knew I wanted to do a seared steak with a pan sauce and a side of asparagus, but as for how to make those things interesting and make a bread was giving my work-weary brain a headache. So I put those thoughts aside until after my workout.
Once I finished getting my butt kicked, my head had cleared and I knew what I wanted to make: classic focaccia, roasted asparagus and mushrooms and a pan seared steak with - wait for it - a whiskey pan sauce. Why whiskey? I think the question should be why not whiskey? It has good zing to it and there are many whiskey based BBQ recipes out there so why wouldn't it work as a pan sauce? Before launching into my steak I needed to get the focaccia and veggies out of the way and into the oven.
The name "focaccia" is derived from the Latin word panis focacius with the root word focous meaning center or fireplace. That little fact has nothing to do with cooking (other then the early bread was baked in the ashes of a fireplace), but it is fun to learn about the food you are making. Anyways, focaccia is a quick and easy bread to make and is highly customizable, but is usually made with oregano, thyme, garlic and pepper. The following is a very basic recipe that can be tweaked for different flavors, for example, I like it with black olives, crushed red pepper, dried cilantro and cheddar jack cheese for a Mexican flare.
- 1 cup 2 tbls all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp white sugar
- 1-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 tsp each: garlic powder, thyme, oregano
- 1/4 tsp basil
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1-1/4 tsp vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup 1 tbl 1 tsp warm water
- 2-1/2 tsp olive oil
- Parmesan cheese, shredded
- Mix flour, salt, sugar, yeast and seasonings in a large bowl. Mix in vegetable oil and water by hand.
- When dough is fully mixed, knead on a lightly flowered surface until smooth and elastic.
- Coat bowl with olive oil and turn dough ball to coat. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for about 20-30 minutes.
- When ready, punch dough down and transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Form into a rectangle (or circle) with 1/2 inch thickness. Sprinkle with oil and parmesan cheese.
- Bake in 450 degree preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until golden but not brown.