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focaccia for feasting (or, the flaming little toaster)

Meyer Lemon Focaccia

The other day, I set a small corn tortilla on fire. In the toaster oven. It wasn’t intentional, of course. All I wanted to do was smash some avocado on top of it, sprinkle it with sea salt and cracked pepper and eat it as a snack before I left the house to run errands. I was in the dining room, just out of sight of the toaster oven, writing a birthday card to my sister (happy birthday, Sara!). I know now that I should have stayed in the kitchen, but I wanted the tortilla to get very toasty, not just warmed, and so I was leaving it alone. I was quite unconcerned about that cute little corn tortilla. Until I walked into the kitchen to find it ablaze, the toaster oven glowing as orange flames licked the glass door. My first thought was to grab my phone and Google extinguishing small home fire toaster oven, but I quickly realized the foolishness of that plan.

lemons + rosemary Meyer Lemon Focaccia

While my heart thumped wildly, I used metal tongs to remove the flaming and/or charred bits of tortilla from the toaster oven and submerged them in water in a large glass bowl. I flicked more water at the lingering bits of flame. I ran into the other room to climb onto a chair and stop the now-shrieking smoke detector. I opened the windows and fetched the fan from the closet.

When I finally sat down, I no longer wanted to leave the house. Perhaps ever. I was sure that if I did, some bit of blackened tortilla would somehow catch fire again and I’d burn the whole apartment building down. It might be worth noting, at this point, my childhood fear of house fires. I was pretty ruined for the afternoon.

Meyer Lemon Focaccia Meyer Lemon Focaccia Meyer Lemon Focaccia

This to say: life is hard. There are piles of papers to sort through and dusty corners in the closets and emails begging for response. Things go well, and then they go wrong. All you want is a snack, but even that turns into a catastrophe.

But you know what? It’s okay. I did not, in fact, burn the apartment building down. We’re doing it, this thing of life, you and me. We figure out our problems and tackle one and move on to the next. We wash our laundry while knowing more will pile up. We do our taxes. We tick things off our lists. We fight and make up, fight and make up. Bad things happen; we continue forward. We manage. We keep on.

And meanwhile, we gather, feast, love, throw weeknight dinner parties, eat dessert, revel revel revel in this life we’ve been given.

So high fives all around for paying bills and cleaning the toilet and making dinner and loving well and getting up every day to do it again. Life is hard, but it is good. Make some focaccia while the lemons are in season, pass it around the table, laugh as much as possible, live the life you’ve got.

But don’t toast tortillas in your toaster oven. That is a very bad idea.

Meyer Lemon Focaccia Meyer Lemon Focaccia

Meyer Lemon Focaccia

Adapted from Food52 and Melissa Clark’s New York Times “A Good Appetite” column

The basic idea of a Meyer lemon and herb focaccia came from Food52; the dough I adapted from a fantastic recipe by Melissa Clark (links above). The resulting focaccia, which combines a very significant number of my favorite ingredients, is both sweet and salty, with a bit of crunch from the cornmeal and the aforementioned sugar and salt and bursts of flavor from the citrus and rosemary. It’s a winner.

FOR THE DOUGH

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, roughly chopped

3/4 cup water, lukewarm

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

2/3 cup fine cornmeal

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

FOR ASSEMBLY

2 small Meyer lemons, skins on, sliced as thinly as possible

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons coarse sugar, like demerara or turbinado

2 teaspoons flaky sea salt, like Maldon

TO MAKE THE DOUGH

In a small skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Stir in 1 tablespoon rosemary leaves. Remove the pan from the heat; let cool.

Place the water in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over top and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

To the yeast mixture, add the olive oil and rosemary, flours, cornmeal, granulated sugar and salt. Stir until a soft dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Add more flour if needed (about 1/4 cup might be necessary; use all-purpose).

Oil a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat lightly with the oil. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and place in a warm place. Allow to rise until the dough has doubled, about 1 hour.

TO ASSEMBLE

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking pan (11 x 17 inch) with parchment paper.

Punch down the dough, then place it on the pan and pat it down, stretching it into an oval about 1/2-inch thick. It will not quite fill the pan. Dimple the dough with your fingertips.

Scatter the lemon slices and additional 2 teaspoons of rosemary over the dough. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with the coarse sugar and flaky sea salt.

Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Yield: 4 large (dinner) or 6 – 12 small (appetizer) servings

Meyer Lemon Focaccia

8 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. The first year we were married, I caught the sleeve of my flannel shirt on fire. I learned a lesson that day about reaching over an open flame. We live and learn, and then we are wiser for our experiences, right? Thanks for the encouragement to move on and make the most of every day. And your photos are great, especially the lemon and rosemary! This looks wonderful.

  2. Funny blog, and a great looking recipe. AND great advice – living the life we’ve been given. Amen

  3. So there’s a time when you burn your dinner in the oven because you were cleaning the bathroom, then put the gloves you tried to grab the dinner with on the burner you forgot to turn off. That the words ‘flame-retardant’ mean nothing at all comes squarely home to you as you try to put the gloves out with the kitchen towel. You’re still dealing with the ashes and the smoke just as your husband walks in with his family he picked up from the airport. Your joys of being married are only exceeded by your happiness that takeout exists. Yeah, that happened.
    I’m really glad you’re ok and that the toaster fire didn’t turn into an electrical fire. That bread looks delicious.

  4. Great thoughts Stacy…I so enjoy reading your blog…and the recipes and photos too. :) To continue the sharing of stories involving fire…years ago I turned on the burner to cook a small pan of carrots, but had forgotten to add water to the pan…went about getting ready for the church harvest party…costumes for myself and the girls (very young at the time)…came back into the kitchen and my little one quart Farberware pot was melting on the bottom…yes a melting stainless steel pot! I picked up the pan and swung toward the sink, ploping melted metal along the way, then realized I couldn’t set it there without possibly melting the stainless steel sink, came back to a cold burner and set it there…some of the melted metal managed to plop just under the stove on the hardwood floor and caught fire…I put that out by smothering it with a towel, then noticed all the little metal “plops” all over the floor and to my horror on the floor all around my little girls who were standing there watching the whole thing! Amazingly, none of that melted metal hit my little sweeties…only the floor was burned (and needed refinishing), but my daughters were unharmed. I was so relieved and praising God for His protection in that whole situation. To this day I am always double checking pans and burners paranoid that I will do this again.

  5. High fives to life that is hard and life that is good. To getting through those everyday struggles like bills and laundry just do do them all over again. To putting out fires and to making focaccia. I like this post. :)

  6. Thank you for this post, Stacy! It’s just what I needed to hear. Today, Neko had a 30 minute screaming fit while I was having possibly one of the most terrible migranes I’ve had in ages…I wanted to sink through the floor and emerge, floating on a calm ocean wave. But what you say – it’s so true. Day in and day out, there are challenges to face, but we are doing it! An in between, there are so many wonderful things. Things worth celebrating! xo

  7. What a gorgeous looking focaccia, it’s almost too pretty to eat….but I imagine that the aroma from the rosemary would be too enticing to resist!
    Love your blog :)x x

  8. Really beautiful Focaccia you made, never saw it approached like this. I can only imagine it would be a summertime favorite with some friends over. The smell must be delightful. Thanks for sharing!