gorgonzola focaccia, chicory and walnuts

gorgonzola-focaccia-walnuts-chicory

I grew up eating a version of pizza made at neighborhood bakeries; long, doughy rectangles layered in wax paper, piled into a brown cardboard cake box and tied up with a piece of string.

After a few hours, the oil would seep through the layers of paper and make random stains on the bottom of the cardboard. We enjoyed it straight out of the box as a snack all through the day, especially during those times between lunch and dinner or to stave off hunger after school.

Unlike the crusty pie ordered hot from a pizzeria on a Friday night, it was best cold or at room temperature and topped simply with a thick layer of rich, reduced tomato sauce – and no cheese.

gorgonzola focaccia with walnuts and chicory

I always knew them as “pizza strips” and I didn’t connect the dots until years later that my favorite snack was a type of focaccia, with a distinctly Italian-American spin.

I still love pizza strips. They are very much a tradition in Southern New England although those family bakeries don’t populate the map as profusely as they once did. My kids chow on pizza strips when we visit my family in Rhode Island – there’s nothing like them in the Midwest where they live now.

The focaccia I’m presenting here – with its topping of sweet-savory caramelized onions, bitter greens, gorgonzola cheese and toasted walnuts – is only distantly related to the strips I described. It’s the base that bears a similarity; a basic pizza dough enriched with olive oil.

Check out this post from Almost Italian for an authentic take on pizza strips.

Also, Goat Cheese, Roasted Grape and Walnut Bruschette from A Little Saffron are a delicious inspiration.

gorgonzola focaccia with red onion, chicory and walnuts

Serving Size: 8 slices

For this recipe I used Petite Tango, a curly, spicy lettuce I found in an assortment of heirloom greens at the grocery store. If you can't find it, use leaves from a head of chicory or frisee.

Ingredients

  1. For focaccia dough:
  2. 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  5. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  6. For topping:
  7. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  8. 1 large red onion, sliced
  9. 1 teaspoon sugar
  10. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  11. 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  12. ½ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  13. 1/2 cup each shredded radicchio and baby chicory or frisee
  14. 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour, 1 teaspoon salt, yeast and oil in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir in 1 cup water.
  2. Mix on medium speed until dough comes together, about 2 minutes. Cover bowl loosely with a towel and let rest 5 minutes.
  3. Switch to the dough hook and knead dough for 1 minute – the dough should be fairly sticky but stretchy.
  4. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk; about 2 hours. Alternatively, cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator overnight. Next morning, let the dough come to room temperature and let rise until doubled in bulk.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, sugar and salt. Stir, then lower heat and cover the pan.
  6. Cook 15 minutes or until the onions are very soft. Uncover and continue cooking until the onions are deep brown, stirring frequently. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and set aside.
  7. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  8. Place the dough on an oiled 13 x 9-inch rimmed baking pan and spread the dough toward the edges of the pan – it will spring back and not quite reach. Cover and let rest 20 minutes.
  9. Gently dimple the dough while stretching with your fingers to evenly cover the pan the rest of the way. Bake 10 minutes.
  10. Distribute the onions over the top of the focaccia and bake another 10 minutes.
  11. Sprinkle the cheese, radicchio, chicory and walnuts over the onions and return to the oven; bake an additional 5 minutes to slightly melt the cheese and wilt the greens.
  12. Cut into serving pieces with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/02/gorgonzola-focaccia-chicory-and-walnuts/

italian spritz cocktail

Italian Spritz cocktail

I made this little drink. Well, truth be told I’ve been making it (and ordering it at bars) quite a bit recently. I wanted to raise a glass especially to say cin-cin as I celebrate a new look for familystyle food and the Spritz seemed a perfect choice.

I’m smitten with the new cookbook from the restaurant of the same name; Polpo, “A Venetian Cookbook of Sorts”. It’s got everything I want in a book, cooking related or not: great stories and photography, maps, and a really stunning design. I’m in love with the book’s Japanese-style exposed binding, which looks strangely sexy to me. Like a 19th century woman stripped down to nothing but her corsets and crinolines….oh, wait, I’m getting off topic.

Polpo: A cookbook of sorts

I meant to say I’ve been flipping through the book, getting hungry and wanting to buy a trip to Venice. The recipe for a Spritz in the book – the way they do it in the Veneto – is made with white wine and soda water. It made me thirsty, but I like mine with Prosecco because the wine and bubbles are all in one.

I also like Aperol in place of the more usual Campari, but that is a personal choice. Aperol has a tiny bit less bitterness.

Giving this blog a facelift has been on my list for a long time. But life, work, fits and starts complicated the process a bit.

I finally found a perfect fit with Katelyn Baird and Smitten Designs – I’m so, so happy I did. I’ve become a fan of Katelyn’s blog Katelyn Brooke too..she shares smart, savvy ideas about design, life and style.

A simplified, clean layout and way to print recipes was my main agenda, but I also updated my logo with Katelyn’s help. I hope you’ll come and visit me here often. I promise there will be drinks. And lots of good things to eat.

Salute!

Check out:

Aperol Spritz Cocktail at The Italian Dish

Venetian Spritz at Coco & Kelley

italian spritz cocktail

Yield: makes one drink

Ingredients

  1. Ice
  2. 1 slice of lemon
  3. 3 ounces Prosecco or sparkling wine
  4. 2 ounces Aperol or Campari

Instructions

  1. Fill a small rocks glass with ice. Squeeze in the lemon. Pour in the wine, followed by the Aperol or Campari. Garnish with additional lemon slice and drink.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/12/italian-spritz-cocktail/

Ricotta Flatbread with Pomegranate Salsa

It’s late fall again and the beginning of my favorite time of year for cooking. There’s such a great variety of produce piled up in the markets having their “it” moment right now it’s almost overwhelming. I want to gather everything up and devour it all before it’s gone.

I’m thinking of the fruits that were recently harvested – apples and pears that haven’t been in cold storage for months and months; the last of the late season figs, and the fleeting appearance of big, beautiful jeweled-red pomegranates.

Ever since I first made this recipe for Pomegranate Relish from chef Suzanne Goin’s cookbook Sunday Suppers at Lucques it’s been a favorite. I made it this time around with some dried cranberries to top some creamy ricotta-topped flatbread.

This month I’m sharing a few other favorite recipes and ideas for Thanksgiving entertaining at the Wisconsin Cheese blog – go check it out.

Ricotta Flatbread with Pomegranate Salsa

Yield: 6 - 8 servings

Ingredients

  1. ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  2. ½ cup dried, sweetened cranberries; roughly chopped
  3. 1 shallot, finely chopped
  4. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  5. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  6. 1 tablespoon honey
  7. 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  8. 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest strips
  9. Pinch salt
  10. 1 oval pre-baked flatbread, such as naan or pocketless pita
  11. 8 ounces Bel Gioioso Ricotta con Latte
  12. ½ cup baby arugula

Instructions

  1. Combine pomegranate seeds, cranberries, shallot, oil, vinegar, honey, parsley, orange zest and salt in a bowl.
  2. Place flatbread on a preheated grill rack or baking stone in a 450-degree oven; toast until warm and edges are lightly toasted, 5 – 10 minutes.
  3. Spoon ricotta over warm flatbread and spread lightly. Arrange arugula over ricotta; cut into serving pieces. Top each slice with salsa.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/11/ricotta-flatbread-with-pomegranate-salsa/