Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion 
Feta and Parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, carrot, yellow bell pepper, asparagus, purple potatoes, beets and white button mushrooms are shaped into a rainbow with a cheesy heart on top of focaccia bread.

Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion Feta and Parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, carrot, yellow bell pepper, asparagus, purple potatoes, beets and white button mushrooms are shaped into a rainbow with a cheesy heart on top of focaccia bread.

On the strawberry patch: Colorful food for a colorful world

Rainbow vegetables adorn this colorful focaccia canvas.

By Tressa Dale

For the Peninsula Clarion

For a time, I worked the overnight shift in a large-scale bakery near Boulder, Colorado. I spent many nights in front of a massive oven, my face flushed by the heat, loading and unloading fragrant loaves of hot bread in the traditional way — using a heavy wooden peel.

In that solitude, the only sounds were the roar of the fans, the crackling of cooling bread and the scraping of wood on the oven floor.

The work became a single repeating motion, a dance of twisting and lifting and spinning in rhythm with the fire and steam. I enjoyed the many hours during which I was free to live in fantasies while my hands and body labored. I found that monotonous exertion meditative and wholly satisfying.

We made a few varieties of freeform focaccia at the bakery, and I took great pride in the artistry of shaping the loaves. Through countless repetitions, I learned how to flip my wrist in the exact same motion so each loaf would be identical. Nowadays, I make my bread one loaf at a time instead of by the hundreds, so there is no need or desire for uniformity, and focaccia is an ideal canvas for self-expression. Careful arrangement of vegetables and herbs can create nutritious landscapes and scenes of life or fantasy; each loaf a unique work of art to be proud of.

Focaccia dough is simple but requires some forethought and planning as there are two proofs. The whole process takes about 4 hours from start to finish.

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup warm water

2 ½ teaspoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon honey

½ cup olive oil

Directions:

Mix the yeast and honey into the warm water. The water should be about body temperature. Let sit 10 minutes until you see a layer of bubbles on top.

Combine the flour and salt and mix well.

Pour the water mixture into the flour, add ¼ cup of the olive oil, and knead until the dough is smooth and springy. A dough hook attachment on your stand mixer works well for this if you’re not up for a workout.

Coat a large bowl and the dough ball in a little oil, cover, and let sit 1 ½ hours until the dough has doubled in size.

Thoroughly grease a 9×13 baking sheet with the remaining olive oil and spread your dough out to cover the entire pan. Cover again and let rise one hour.

While you’re waiting for the second rise, you can prepare your “paints” for the canvas. Vegetables should be sliced thinly, and harder vegetables, like potatoes, broccoli, and carrots, should be roasted in advance so they will be fully cooked in the finished product. Be sure to wash your hands frequently or wear gloves because you’ll be handling the food quite a bit.

After the hour is up, use your fingertips to create dimples all over the bread then create your design as quickly as possible. If you are attempting something ambitious, I suggest practicing the design on a cutting board first.

Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until the bread is firm and springy.

My focaccia was created using feta and Parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, carrot, yellow bell pepper, asparagus, purple potatoes, beets and white button mushrooms, formed into a rainbow with a cheesy heart.

I believe a colorful world and colorful food nourishes both body and mind, and that all the unique and beautiful colors of this life should be celebrated thoughtfully and with pride.

More in Community

Town Crier

The Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center has temporarily closed indoor services… Continue reading

The Homer Police Station as seen Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Cops and Courts

Information about fire, police and troopers is taken from public records consisting… Continue reading

Photos courtesy of Alaska Mindful Paws
Abigail and Natalie
Pets of the week: Abigail and Natalie

Are you ready for the sweetest cats around? Well Abigail, 1.5 year-old-female,… Continue reading

Homer Foundation 30 years logo.
Homer Foundation at 30: Foundation anticipated Exxon Valdez ‘spillionaires’

If upheld, $5 billion in civil suit damages from Exxon Valdez would have made many locals wealthy and able to invest in Homer Foundation — but that didn’t happen.

Tressa Dale / For the Clarion 
Mindful ramen
Take guilt off menu with mindful ramen

I do a lot of preaching about healthy eating, but I have… Continue reading

Mavis Muller, center, with bull horn, arranged Salmonfest attendees for an aerial art event in the rodeo arena at Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds near Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Mavis Muller)
Aerial art circles back to its origins

Human mosiac art project happens Sunday at Bishop’s Beach.

Tressa Dale
Scrambled Eggs A La Escoffier
Scrambled eggs the Escoffier way

For the last few months of culinary school, my class was given… Continue reading

A cow moose and her two calves feed on alder bushes on Thursday, July 21, 2021, in the Homer News parking lot in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Homer’s Best Bets

Just because August starts Sunday doesn’t mean summer has ended yet. There’s… Continue reading

Gordon Elgin Giles
Gordon Elgin Giles

Seldovia resident Gordon Elgin Giles, 81, went to be with the Lord… Continue reading

Most Read