Sourdough Foccacia with Cranberries, Sage, and Thyme

Focaccia is another of those recipes that is redolent with memories. I was introduced to this Italian snack in its simplest form, topped with olive oil and salt during college. The humanities department would have semi-regular meetings where all the professors and students would gather together. (It was a small school, so this wasn’t as big an ordeal as it may seem.)

While we heard tell that other departments had the usual spread of chips, cookies, and soda, we were favored with homemade focaccia baked by our beloved secretary Elizabeth Davis. While she usually tried to keep a low profile in meetings, there was no disguising the warm yeasty smell that accompanied her through the door. She and her bread were the center of everyone’s attention.  Even if we tried to politely finish listening to whomever was speaking, our minds and hearts were with her and the bread she was slicing.

Her focaccia stands in my memory as a culinary beacon of hope in an otherwise dreary foodscape of cafeteria food and boxed cereal. It was beguiling in its simplicity, managing to be both fluffy and crisp at the same time. The olive oil, warmed by the bread, pooled in the fingertip deep wells, dribbling over the sides when it was cut. The more refined among us ate with a napkin in hand to dab at the drips. Call me rustic, but I could never resist licking my fingers clean of the buttery oil mingled with the sharp bite of salt.

While plain and simple focaccia still heats my oven, I have recently been enamored with recipes using seasonal fruits, like this Grape and Rosemary Focaccia from Nourished Kitchen. Living in the South, I made it with muscadines rather than concord grapes, but the combination of peppery olive oil, sticky sweet grapes, and salty herbs worked its way into my blood. Sadly, muscadine season is painfully short. Nowhere near long enough to satisfy my craving. When cranberries started poking around the produce, I saw my way clear.

While this recipe is obviously evocative of Thanksgiving, I won’t lie and say I’m not stashing a few bags of cranberries in my freezer so I can enjoy this a few months down the line.


Sourdough Focaccia with Cranberries, Sage, and Thyme
Inspired by recipes at Nourished Kitchen and The Fresh Loaf

1 cup frothy 100% hydration sourdough starter
1 cup tepid water
1  cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white whole wheat flour
3 tsp salt
~ 1/2 a bag of cranberries
2 T chopped fresh sage
1 T chopped fresh thyme
2-3 T unrefined coarse sea salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the starter and water. Mix briefly to break up the starter. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, one cup each of the flours, and the salt. With a dough hook, mix the dough until it comes together. If it’s still excessively sticky, add more flour until it becomes more manageable– it can stick to your fingers, but it shouldn’t coat your hand like a glove if you try to knead it. Let the mixer knead it until you can stretch a piece paper thin, about 10 minutes. Roll it into a ball, drizzle the bowl with olive oil and turn the dough to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge over night.

The next day, let the dough come up to room temperature, about 60-90 minutes. Rub olive oil onto a 9×13 baking sheet. Pat the dough out to fit the baking sheet and let it rise, covered, in a warm place for 2-3 hours, until it looks puffy and doubled. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475°.  After the dough has risen, use your finger tips to make several indentations in the dough. Not holes, just dips. Drizzle an ample amount of olive oil over the dough and down its sides. The bread is essentially going to fry on top, so do be generous. Sprinkle the coarse salt and then spread the cranberries out. They might roll into great cranberry canyons, so you might need to press them gently into place.

Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until the top is golden and crisp. Take it out of the oven and drizzle some more olive oil and scatter the herbs over the top. Using a pizza cuter, cut the focaccia into squares. Serve hot or a room temperature. If you happen to have leftovers, it makes a fabulous breakfast reheated in a toaster oven for about 5 minutes.

This post is participating in YeastSpotting, a “weekly showcase of yeasted baked goods and dishes with bread as a main ingredient” hosted by Wild Yeast, though guest hosted this week by Hefe und mehr.

Posted 6 years ago at 9:59 pm. 3 comments

Chopped Citrus and Cranberry Nut Salad

I love citrus. While most cookbooks and online recipe forums seem to think that citrus is best enjoyed in the dog days of summer, I love that it’s true season is actually the mid- winter months. Like a doting grandmother who slips you a bright little foil wrapped piece of candy in that long half hour before dinner, citrus waits till the dark days of winter to ripen.

While it’s true that citrus isn’t necessarily local, unless you happen to live in Florida, California, or parts of Texas, it is a seasonal fruit, just like anything else. So, while most of us can’t buy citrus from one of our farmer friends, it is still possible to buy it at the peak of its season when it’s freshest, imported the least number of miles, and most importantly– tastiest. For me, that means taking advantage of the natural down time that winter gives us and chowing down on all the grapefruits, tangerines, oranges, clementines, lemons, limes, pomelos, and tangelos I can eat. Peggy Bourjaily wrote an excellent piece for NPR’s Kitchen Window series about this practical locavorism.

Citrus in winter is also a nostalgic thing for me. Truth be told, I would probably eat it in the winter even if it wasn’t in season then. (Conveniently enough though, I get to keep my moral high ground.) As kids, we would always get an orange in the toe of our stocking at Christmas. I don’t know how often we actually ate the orange, but it was of utmost importance that it was there. Since starting our own Christmas traditions, Mr. Quotidian and I have dispensed with the usual stockings filled with odds and ends that end up getting lost or broken in a few weeks. Instead, we leave a pad of paper and pencil by the stockings and write down memories of the other person, then put the memory in the other’s stocking. So, by Christmas morning, we have stockings stuffed with memories. I love the tradition, but obviously an orange would feel rather out of place in such a situation. However, a Christmas without citrus seemed hollow and dull. I realized the easiest way to solve the situation was to serve citrus at one of our Christmas meals. Since citrus doesn’t do well with a cheese fondue, Christmas Eve was out. However, when I remembered a recipe for a salad using oranges and cranberries, Christmas brunch seemed the ideal way to include this jolly, festive fruit. New Year’s brunch would be delicious too…paired with a mimosa perhaps? Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years, 11 months ago at 6:52 pm. 1 comment

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

This is the classic cranberry sauce.  Start here if your previous cranberry sauce experience involves a can opener. Once you’ve got the basic method down, feel free to experiment with additions.  Most whole spices go well with this sauce. In fact, I can’t think of many that would not pair well with it. I’ve had it with extra cinnamon, cloves, allspice, star anise, cardamom, and even cracked black pepper. Use your taste buds’ imagination. The only thing I’d caution against is using so many spices that you drown the cranberry flavor. Continue Reading…

Posted 7 years, 12 months ago at 12:58 pm. Add a comment

Fermented Cranberry Relish

Cultured Cranberry Relish 3

For those of you who want to twirl your culinary compasses, try this fermented recipe. Historically, most of our condiments were fermented (or cultured, or lacto-fermented- all basically the same thing)- from pickles to ketchup to soy sauce. The main goal of fermenting was preservation. Before people canned, they fermented food to keep for the winter. Fermented foods also have health benefits, including providing your digestive tract with probiotics (yep, those little things you take in expensive pill form now).

This is a great recipe to start your fermenting journey.  Most people are already familiar with the tartness of cranberries and are therefore more receptive to the added fermented flavor. Continue Reading…

Posted 8 years ago at 11:22 am. 3 comments