Sunday, August 26, 2012

gourmande in the kitchen's focaccia bread, gluten-free

Well, this week has been a challenge, so to speak.  Following a long weekend up on Lummi Island (not the challenging part), I've been feeling... just... bad.  I came down with something of this and something of that, and the collision sent me flying.

I'm working on a tale of our adventures on the high seas last weekend, but I still need to do some uploading and downloading, and I made this focaccia bread yesterday with the juiciest little tomatoes, so I'm going to tell you about that first.  Because it's the end of August already, and we'd all better jump on the tomato wagon while we still can.  It'll be leaving town before we know it.

For whatever reason (blame it on the illness), I've barely put one single tomato in my mouth all summer.  I'm ashamed of myself, but in a hurried attempt to make up for it, I'm devouring the few leftover from this recipe at this very moment.  Popping them one after another in my mouth, a double duty breakfast and effort at redemption.

What is it about tomatoes anyway, that make them so prized, the plump little treasures that greet us every spring, with their tough, green exteriors, only to brighten their ruddy complexions in the warmth of summer sun?  Is it the sweetly acidic burst of the flesh between teeth? The explosion of essence then bathing the taste buds in the fluids of flavor sealed within?

Or is the burst of color a tomato can bring to a dish?  I must say I made the recipe featured here because the tomatoes just... Looked. So. Good.  I procrastinate when it comes to trying recipes, friends.  But this one, this one I bookmarked two nights ago, and then went out in search of tomatoes the very next day.  It was a compulsion.

But who can blame me?  When you come across recipes like this one, how can compulsive re-creation not be the immediate response?  I'm a sucker for pretty colors.  And for these fruits, long misunderstood and mistaken for their vegetable cousins.

This recipe I can take absolutely zero credit for creating.  My usual shenanigans of tweaking and subbing and omitting this or that or the other did not come into play here at all.  I saw perfection, and I stuck with it.  If it ain't broke, right?  Instead, I give credit, and many thanks, for this recipe to Sylvie Shirazi, of Gourmande in the Kitchen.  Her striking photographs captured me through my screen, coercing me into urgency and action.

The result was a thin, airy sort of flat bread, chewy, yet substantial, with a delightful array of flavors nestled into each mouthful.  As my sweetheart pointed out, it's not exactly focaccia bread in texture, more of a soft-crust pizza-ish kind of bread.  But the combination of fresh tomatoes, kalamata olives, Parmesan and thyme give it a gusto that leaves you craving more.  Just one last slice, and I'll put it away.

Regardless of your relationship with gluten, this bread is a definite treat.  And for those of you living grain-free?  Don't worry, you guys can eat this too.

Use the best cheese you can afford, the freshest herbs you can find, and, most importantly, don't forget to find the juiciest, ripest tomatoes you can get your eager hands on, and savor each blissful bite throughout these last fleeting days of summer.

Cherry Tomato, Olive & Thyme Focaccia
Gluten-free, Grain-free

4 eggs
4 T. plain yogurt
1/4 C. coconut flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 C. grated parmesan
8 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 C. pitted kalamata olives, halved
2 T. fresh thyme leaves
2 oz. mozzarella, shredded
salt & pepper, to taste

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

  • Beat eggs and yogurt in a small mixing bowl until well combined.  Set aside.

  • In a medium bowl, whisk coconut flour, baking soda, salt and Parmesan.  Set aside.

  • In a third, medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, olive oil, thyme, olives, and mozzarella.  Season with a pinch of salt and a grind or two of black pepper.

  • Add the beaten eggs and yogurt to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Spread this mixture into an oval shape on the parchment-lined baking sheet with a wet spatula.

  • Top evenly with the tomato, olive & mozzarella mixture and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the bread is puffed.  Transfer parchment and focaccia onto a wire rack to cool.

  • Cut into squares or wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

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