Saturday Night Treats (Part 2 of 3)… Feta and Olive Herb Focaccia

… to continue where I left off from my previous post (Skewered Prawns with Zataar, Cumin and Red Chilli) I’ll move on to part 2 of my dinner…

A Feta and Olive Herb Focaccia

The baker’s wage… a mini focaccia… all to myself.

I spread out the dough a bit thinner than I normally would (do take a look at my earlier post on Cheesy Herbed Focaccia with Sun-dried Tomatoes) and I spritzed the oven with water just to get that crusty finish to the top and sides of the bread.

Look at these plump olives… delicious!

Here’s a list of ingredients for the focaccia –

3 cups A.P. Flour

12gms fresh yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup + 2 tablespoons tepid water

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon (+ extra for sprinkling over the focaccia b4 baking) dried parsley

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/4 cup olive oil (+ extra for lining the bowl and brushing over the top of the focaccia)

3/4 cup chopped olives

3/4 cup feta (cubed)

pinch of sea salt (for sprinkling over the focaccia… not too much as the olives and feta are both salty… you can omit the salt too coz it’s not necessary in this recipe. But I love salt… and I have low blood pressure, so salt is often my best friend.)

Prepare the yeast the usual way (I used fresh yeast) … water, sugar and leave it for 15 minutes till it gets nice n foamy.

In a separate bowl sift the flour and add salt and the dried herbs. Mix it with the yeast, adding the 1/4 cup of olive oil and knead to form a soft dough. Leave the dough to prove for about 2 hours then knock back and knead again, dividing the dough into half. Using your hands shape the focaccia into the basic shape you like before transferring it onto a parchment lined baking tray. I made one oblong, one rectangular focaccia and a mini focaccia (I call it the baker’s wage :-)). Then using your fingertips punch and jab the dough to give it its dimpled look.

Generously sprinkle on the olives and dot the focaccia with feta, before leaving it to prove for another 1 1/2 hour, covered with a towel. Once the focaccia has risen, brush the top with olive oil, and sprinkle on some dried parsley and whole sea salt (optional).

Bake the bread in an oven pre-heated to 200°C for about 20 – 25 minutes…

Allow the focaccia to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing into it. I used a pizza cutter and we ate almost an entire focaccia right then and there… dipping it into some extra virgin olive oil mixed with a combination of zataar, parsley, oregano and whole salt. I should send this over to YeastSpotting

And served the rest with my platter of skewered prawns and potato salad…

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Spinach Feta and Toasted Pinenut Pinwheels

What is it about the beach that kids love? For me, it was gathering seashells, building sandcastles and feeling the squidgy sand under my feet, though I didn’t venture too far into the water. Some past life fear of drowning I suppose, though I love to think of it as a Virginia Woolf hangover. And of course the pink cotton candy, speckled with stray grains of sand, which somehow made it taste sweeter, and balloons and pinwheels from the men who walked along the beach hawking their wares. When I grew older I changed into a hills and mountains person. In preparation for the long walk beyond I suppose. Or perhaps my lungs had just had enough of city dwelling, and my eyes had tired of seeing buildings and cars and people and wanted a respite. Well, whatever it was that prompted the change, the beach was one of my favourite places as a child.

But that was a long time ago and times have changed. And walking along the beach the other day, it suddenly struck me that there was something amiss.

You don’t get pinwheels out there any more!

Nothing whirly which you can hold up and run along the beach with, or stick out the window on the ride home, with mother screaming at you, threats of a severed head urging you to stick your neck out just that bit more, as though daring the forces that be to just try.

So I looked around, and it wasn’t like the kids had all disappeared in Wonkaesque fashion. they were still pretty much all around. Sure, Xboxes, Ps3s and iPads seem to have replaced the good old notion of fun-times… but if I saw a guy selling pinwheels I’d probably pick one up myself. Just for old times sake.

So you can say that the walk to the beach inspired these.

Spinach, Feta and Toasted Pine-nut Pinwheels.

Whirrrr….

The dough for these pinwheels is basic. 2 1/2 cups flour, about a heaped teaspoonful fresh yeast (11/12gms), 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 3 tablespoons olive oil and about a 3/4 cup of tepid water… and you have your dough ready. Knead it well, leave it to prove (1 1/2 to 2 hours should be good), and while your dough is proving, prepare the filling.

You can fill the pinwheels with just about anything, sweet or savoury, but I was in the mood for spinach. 3 1/2 cups of big leaf or baby spinach, washed (use a salad spinner to drain out the excess water). Then chop and sauté in a tablespoon of olive oil with a clove or two of minced garlic. Cook on high, stirring constantly till all the water evaporates, turn off the flame and stir in 3/4 to a cup of crumbled feta and 1/3 cup toasted pinenuts, roughly chopped.

Let the filling cool completely.

Once the dough has doubled, knock it back and knead for a minute on a floured surface before rolling it out into a rectangle. Spread the filling onto the dough with a spatula, and roll the dough up into a log. Slice it into 1/2″ circles and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Drizzle the pinwheels with olive oil and bake in a 200 degrees C preheated oven for 20 minutes. I suppose I could have kept them in the oven a bit longer to brown, but I didn’t want to risk overdoing the bread.

I’m glad I didn’t. They were soft and packed with flavour, the chopped pinenuts the perfect little add-on… for that surprise crunch.

A trip to YeastSpotting perhaps?

So I finally got my pinwheels.

And they were yummy 🙂