Hye Thyme Cafe: Mini Caprese Salad and Focaccia

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mini Caprese Salad and Focaccia

Two additional side items that I made with Christmas dinner this year were a Mini Caprese Salad and a Focaccia with herb dipping oils. We make variations on a Caprese Salad fairly often, but this was my first time using a white balsamic vinegar. I use a lot of aged balsamic, but I'll definitely be making sure the pantry is stocked with the white from now on as well. It has great flavor, and the color doesn't tint your salad or give it a heavy look as the regular red balsamics sometimes do. As for the Focaccia, that was a first for me too. Like they say, hindsight is 20/20 - it probably wasn't the best idea for my first holiday dinner to consist of ALL new items. Thankfully, everything turned out OK.

The dressing for this particular Caprese was something I came across on http://www.ifood.tv/recipe/mini-caprese-salad. The Focaccia recipe is from Fleischmann's Yeast.

1 c olive oil
6 T white balsamic
2 t red pepper flakes
2 t garlic salt
1 t dried oregano

The dressing ended up being way more than I needed to dress 2 containers of bocconcini (mozzarella balls) and two pints of cherry tomatoes. Whisk the dressing ingredients, then chiffonade some fresh basil and gently toss everything together.

3 1/4 c flour
1 packet Fleischmann's RapidRise Yeast
1 T sugar
4 T olive oil, divided
1 2/3 c very warm water
2 T shredded Parmesan 
1 T Italian Seasoning

Mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Add the water and 2T of the olive oil, stirring well to combine. Spread into a greased 13x9" baking dish and cover. Let rise until doubled in size, about 30".

Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes over the top, drizzle the remaining 2T of olive oil, and sprinkle the cheese and seasoning. I used Romano rather than Parm - easier to dig out of the fridge that day. They are interchangeable in most recipes. Let rise for another 15" or so while the oven preheats to 375.

Bake 30-35" until lightly browned. Cool slightly and cut into slices; serve warm. If desired, serve with additional olive oil for dipping. Although I generally end up using them more for pita/bagel chips, I do pick up those divided shaker-top containers with multiple herb blends in them to mix with olive oil for dipping. Because I knew ahead of time that I would be making the Focaccia, I gave the dipping oil a head start. I put a LOT of one of the herb mixes into a small prep bowl and poured over just enough olive oil to thoroughly coat it. Because I would be splitting it into several small dipping bowls, I did not want there to be so much olive oil that I had a hard time scooping out the herbs. This way, some of the olive oil was getting infused with that seasoning ahead of time, and I could just add to it when plating.

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