Very recently, I was asked by a 60-something year old woman if I could get something off the top shelf for her at the grocery store. Considering I'm 5'11" and in a market 5 days a week, I get thrown this question quite often. I handed her the can of tomatoes and continued to push my cart forward, looping around and through to the next. As I reached the spices, that same short woman very politely asked me if I could get down the allspice (A's are up high), so I did just that. I went on, made a U-ey to the next aisle- vitamins- parked my cart and walked across the store to pick up some lemons I forgot. When I got back, that same woman was standing a few feet away. She looked at me square in the eyes and before she could speak, I cut her off- "do you need the aloe?"
She laughed, "No, no, no, but I see you have no wedding ring on. If you're single, I'd love for my son to meet you." She was very to-the-point. Honestly, I was a little taken aback. I really thought she just wanted something from up high.
"Is he taller than you?" I smiled. She chuckled, "yes and I'm making him his favorite meal tonight. He lives in our guest house but it doesn't have a kitchen."
Umm, no thanks.
And that's what I really said. (graciously)
When I reflect on that day, I would like to offer three pieces of advice to my younger sister:
- Always remember to help others, especially in the small ways.
- Don't date a man who has no kitchen and lives within 20 feet of his parents.
- If you were only to have one bread in your baking repertoire, choose this.
Let's talk about above focaccia. Oh my my. First of all, there's nothing better than fresh bread, we all know that. So this has that going on. Then there's the whole sweet and savory thing happening. Grapes, rosemary, sugar, salt...did I mention there's red wine IN the dough? It won't get you drunk but you can taste it!
I used black grapes because I like the purple hue they leave however any other grape will do. Medium to small size work best since you want them to (I hate this word) shrivel.
p.s.- this recipe is intended for those with a kitchen.
Adapted from Gourmet
INGREDIENTS: (makes one 13” x 8” sheet tray)
- 3 tablespoons red wine
- 1½ tbsp. sugar
- ¾ cup warm water (110-115˚ F)
- 1 package active dry yeast (2½ teaspoons)
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups cake flour
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus sea salt for sprinkling on top
- 1½ - 2 cups black grapes (or concord grapes, etc.)
- 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed from stems
-Preheat oven to 400°F.
-Stir together wine, 1 tbsp. of sugar, and warm water in a large bowl, sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until bubbly, about 10 minutes.
-Add oil, flours, and salt and stir until a sticky dough forms. Knead dough on a floured work surface, gradually adding up to 1/2 cup more flour if necessary to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic but still soft, about 5 minutes.
-Transfer dough to an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. After 1 hour, deflate the dough and pushing with your fingertips (you want to make many indentations), spread the dough onto a greased quarter sheet tray (13 x 9 inches).
-Scatter the grapes gently pressing them into the indentations) and rosemary leaves over the dough, then sprinkle with the remaining ½ tbsp. of sugar and sea salt (kosher salt works too).
-Cover with plastic wrap and let rise another 30 minutes, until almost doubled in bulk.
-Bake focaccia at 400°F for 25-30 minutes, until well-browned and firm in middle. Start checking early, (at 20 minutes) as it will brown quickly.
-When done, loosen sides and bottom of focaccia with a spatula and slide onto a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.