Focaccia Pomodoro – Buy it? – or – Bake it!

If you have a lovely local Italian Deli where they bake their own and you can buy it warm and soft – Buy it and support them!     If however you don’t…………….or it’s a Sunday & they’re closed and if overpriced, flabby, supermarket pap is your only alternative – Bake it yourself!  It’s easy and delicious with that wonderful feeling – I made this!  All it takes is a little time.

Don’t ever make the mistake of using anything other than the best ingredients you can find.  This doesn’t mean paying the earth.  Sometimes it just means getting up off your backside and going to a market or finding a good deli.   Balzano’s Deli in Cambridge for instance has wonderful Sun-blushed tomatoes and lovely Olives, and Seafood, and Prosciutto, and, and, and…………..

Ingredients for 1. ‘Course while you’re at it you could make two or three………

12 oz [350 g] Good quality strong white bread flour; 1/2 tsp sea salt; 1 tsp thyme; 2 tbsp good Olive Oil; 200 ml warm water; 1 tsp yeast.    4/5 pitted & halved black olives; 6 sun-dried or sun-blushed tomatoes [a wonderful treat if you can find them locally.]

Mix the flour, salt & thyme well together in a large mixing bowl.  Crumb the oil into the mix.  Stir the yeast into the warm water and mix that in too.  Knead it together, not too vigorously, then cover the bowl and leave in a warm place for 2 hours.

Turn on to a floured surface, lightly knead again, then flatten and spread to an oval shape and put onto a oiled baking sheet.  No thinner than 1/2 “.  Arrange your olives and tomatoes on the surface, and leave in that warm place for 45 mins to rise further.  When risen indent all over with your fingers [my favourite bit!] and drizzle a little Olive Oil and sprinkle a little salt.  Pre-heat the oven to 180 [170 if a fan oven] and bake for 35/40 mins.  It’s done when golden-brown and slightly hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom.  A bit like me really………………………..

Serve with a Green Salad and/or Antipasti.

Buono Appetito

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Linguini alla Putanesca

One of my personal favourites for a quick, easy, fairly light meal.  As there is no cheese used on the meal itself I often follow this with a Plum Tomato & Pak Choi [fresh & small leaves if poss. or sliced into strips] salad accompanied by a decent Brie or Neufchatel.  A simple meal, which when eaten outdoors on a Summers day, with a chilled Pino Grigio and good friends makes life seem somehow brighter!

Serves 4

4 garlic cloves finely chopped; 2 tbsp capers rinsed; 12 oz fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled & chopped [or a can of chopped Organic Italian tomatoes]; 2 handfuls of black olives, pitted and halved; can of anchovies, oil drained and not used; 4 tbsp good quality Olive Oil, 2 oz unsalted butter; 1 dried red chilli, crushed and mixed with the capers.  Fresh coriander chopped finely. 400 g Linguini.  Black pepper.

Heat the oil & butter in a large pan and add the drained anchovies, snipping them up with scissors.  Then add the garlic.  Stir until the garlic is just browning, then add the caper/chilli mix.  Stir, then add the tomatoes and olives.  When bubbling turn down and simmer for 20 mins, adding pepper to taste [it may, of course, be spicy enough without pepper!].

Then, with your pasta water at a rolling boil, add a little rock salt and olive oil, then your linguini. Stir once gently to ensure it doesn’t stick together and cook until ‘al dente’   Drain well and stir into your pan with the sauce.  That’s why you needed a large pan!  Leave to cook for a couple of minutes ’til the linguini is well coated with the sauce.  Sprinkle over the chopped coriander, and serve, in the cooking pan, straight to the table.

If any of your guests raise their eyebrows at this…..They’re the wrong guests!!!!

Buono Appetito