02 December 2007

It's 10:00, more than 13 hours since my last post. How did I fill the hours? I hung out at Panera's for 2 1/2 of them. I could have stayed longer. I picked up a few things from Bed Bath and Beyond and Bath and Bodyworks before heading to Macy's. It was a successful trip. I wanted to get a gift for my sister, whose name I had chosen for our holiday exchange. I had already gotten her something, but changed my mind about it. This time I picked out a gift that cost $100, but with the sale, extra percent off and my coupon, I paid half of that, which was the amount we had agreed to spend. I saved $50. I find that so exciting. I hope she likes the gift as much as I do.

I started my cooking at 2:30, and somehow, it took 4 hours! I'm glad I didn't try to cook yesterday. It was the bread. First you had to make a 'sponge' and let it sit for 20 minutes. About 10 minutes into it I reread the directions and realized I put a package of yeast in instead of a half-tablespoon, so I started over. After 20 more minutes, I added the other ingredients and mixed for 5 minutes. In my new mixer. When I placed the dough in the bowl it would be rising in, I couldn't turn it over-it was way too sticky. I had to add flour and knead it by hand. I enjoyed that. Then it had to rise for an hour. Then I had to put it in a large pan and press it into the corners, which it wouldn't do, and which I read was normal. I had to cover it with a damp towel for 15 minutes so it could rest, then try again. It stretched. Then it had to rise again for an hour. In the meantime, I started making the baked ziti, and the pots and pans and measuring cups and bowls were just piling up. The dish washing never seemed to end! When the bread was ready, I had to poke it, drizzle olive oil, and sprinkle kosher salt and rosemary over it. Finally, at 6:00 it was time for the oven. I got the baked ziti assembled and ready to go while the focaccia was baking. As soon as it was out of the oven, the ziti went in. At 7:00, we were ready to eat. More than ready to eat! I'd definitely make both dishes again. I'd add a little more garlic to the ziti, and a little less olive oil to the top of the focaccia. I couldn't decide which pictures to post, so I just did them all. The meal looks pretty good on my $2 clearance plates, don't you think?

I'm having my family over on the 23rd to celebrate my father's 80th birthday, and I think I want to serve an Italian meal. I could prepare everything in advance so as not to be stuck in the kitchen for 4 hours while they're here. I'll have time to try a few more dishes before the big day.

Time to put this one to rest.


Lena said...

YUMMO!!! Sounds like you had a GREAT day!!


Jay said...

Yeah, I'm kind of hungry now. ;-)

Mary said...

Yummy yum yum! Looks wonderful. The food plated nicely and the plates are pretty.

The focaccia will be easier every time you make it. One way to solve the amount of olive oil to use is to brush it on the bread and serve seasoned warm olive oil for dipping. I use the little square Asian dishes set beside the bread plate to hold the olive oil. (The little square dishes are really inexpensive.) I usually have a cruet of the oil ready for refills at the table. Golly, I sound bossy. I really don't mean to.

Moohaa said...

OH yum!! Cheryl, you have me drooling! Can I get the recipe for both? It sounds absolutely divine!

Love the plates too.. man you have a gift for clearance and sale shopping don't you?!

Leaking Moonlight said...

This is beautiful focaccia bread!

(I make a thicker focaccia a lot for sandwiches. I learned to shape the dough inside the pan with my fingers, from the center out, leaving the poke marks and a rounded edge like a very thick pizza for the second rise.)

You made a plate of serious celebration food. Bring on the Asti Spumante!

Summer said...

It's 6 a.m. and I want ziti. You are amazing in the kitchen!

dawn said...

that all looks so yummy.
someone stop her. :)

bonnie said...

What a perfect day! You are a good planner. It looks like your patience with the bread paid off. The meal looks delicious. Have you noticed that many recipes seem tentative with their use of seasonings and GARLIC? I think they think Americans have a taste for blandness. You can't ever have too much garlic. I generally spice things "my way."

Happyone said...

Oh, it all looks wonderful!! I'm hungry just looking at it.
I agree with bonnie about the garlic!!!

CRUSTY MOM-E said...

you amaze me with your talents!! You have such stamina..can I borrow some, please??:)
HAHA! I liked what Mary said!!! :)

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