January, 2011

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Focaccia Bread Nutrition Facts

Should you be worried about focaccia bread calories? Well, that depends entirely on the focaccia bread recipe you use and serving size. However, it’s possible to make an estimate using the base recipe below:

Basic Focaccia Bread Recipe:

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour: 2,730 calories
  • One packet or tbsp. granulated dry yeast: 35 calories
  • 1/2 cup 110-degree water for proofing the yeast: 0 calories
  • 1 tsp sugar: 15 calories
  • 1 cup water: 0 calories
  • 1/3 cup olive oil + 1 tbsp for brushing top: 756 calories
  • Kosher salt: 0 calories

Recipe total: 3,536 calories per loaf

If you choose to cut the loaf into eight servings then the average serving will contain 442 calories, without taking such things as butter, olive oil for dipping or other additions into account.

Many variations on the basic recipe will be more caloric. Cheese, for example, is a high-calorie addition to a recipe. A half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese will contain an extra 216 calories. Herbs, on the other hand, are very low in calories that there’s no practical caloric difference between a plain focaccia and one with herbs.

There’s more to consider in making focaccia than simple calories, however. Focaccia is a basic bread, low in sugar and salt, with no oil but heart-healthy olive oil. By using a whole-wheat flour you can increase the fiber content in your diet substantially; though in many instances whole-wheat focaccia will be improved by replacing only half the white flour with whole-wheat or by supplementing the whole-wheat with a portion of high-gluten flour in proportions recommended by the suppliers.

When you consider that grains and vegetables are supposed to make up the better part of a healthy diet, the caloric count of a serving of focaccia bread recipe seems modest. For thousands of years bread has been considered “the staff of life.” Balanced with fresh fruits and vegetables, and augmented with a lean meat or other protein source, focaccia bread calories can only be reckoned as a sensible portion of overall dietary intake.

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Focaccia Bread – A Brief History

Focaccia bread is a member of a family of common Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern flat breads. Ranging from chapattis, tortillas, and pita, to the beloved Italian-American version of pizza, these breads grew out a common heritage of bread making that developed in the earliest ages of civilization.

Bread was first made in Mesopotamia. The simplest form of bread is a blend of water and ground wheat cooked on the hot stones of a fire pit or on the ashy embers that remain after a fire has burned low. These old breads survive as vital elements in many cuisines around the world, commonly used for wraps, dipping scoops, and foundations for other dishes.

The development of yeast was a natural extension of bread-making. Over time, as cooks learned to enjoy and then promote and preserve yeast cultures, yeasted breads became the standard by which most people judge all breads. Yeast breads were often no more than a flat disk tossed on the hearth, on the floor of an oven, or slapped onto the side wall of a cooking stove. The very name focaccia comes from the Latin term “panis focacius.” That translates as “hearth bread,” implying a comforting loaf from the home kitchen: something a busy mother could toss together while cooking the family meal.

In Italy, France, and Spain, focaccia has taken forms far beyond that core notion of a simple, round home loaf. Holiday focaccia rounds made for Christmas Eve can include many rich additions that they seem more in the spirit of flat panettone or sweet challah, rather than the rougher and far plainer versions Americans associate with the name.

The fundamental idea of a quickly made, casual bread type remains at the heart of modern American versions of focaccia, developed from old Italian traditions. Whether the loaf is a soft, easily tossed-off round bread with a cakey crumb and plenty of enriching olive oil, or a less rich, chewy version made with pizza dough, focaccia bread is rightly seen as hearty, flavorful, and simple: the perfect accompaniment to stews, roasts, salads, and more.

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Focaccia Restaurants To Try

Focaccia has become sufficiently popular that finding a focaccia restaurant with good focaccia sandwiches is often no more challenging than searching local establishments. Because the bread is basic, and the recipes so varied as to leave room for plenty of exploration, there’s a version to suit nearly every customer.

Finding a good focaccia restaurant in your region is a great excuse for meals out for weeks. Here are three examples of great focaccia restaurants with focaccia sandwiches as highlights on their menus.

Focaccia Café and Bakery in San Francisco

Focaccia Café and Bakery, located at 119 Sacramento Street in San Francisco, CA was a nominee for the 2010 Best Sandwich Shop in the Best of the Bay List. The menu is far more extensive than that of a simple sandwich shop, and offers breakfast foods, and many choices of bread beyond focaccia, including bagels, sourdough, and rolls.

La Focaccia in New York

La Focaccia, at 51 Bank Street in New York, NY is a popular Italian focaccia restaurant in the West Village offering a wide array of Italian cooking. Known for its atmosphere and fine cooking, guests can expect a choice between classic pasta dishes, traditional entrees, and dishes from the grill. The lunch menu includes an array of hot focaccia sandwiches, and cold sandwiches on ciabatta rolls. There is a traditional focaccia and cheese pie. Offering good value for the money, customers can expect to pay anything from $25 for a full lunch to $150 for a full dinner with extras. The range of choices is wide and the customer can control costs with careful choices.

Focaccia Sandwiches at Pizza New, Minneapolis,MN

Pizza Nea, at 306 East Hennepin, Minneapolis, MN is a pizza place offering traditional Italian antipasto, salads, red and white pizzas, and an entire set of focaccia sandwiches. It carries a 91 percent rating with Urban Spoon. Prices are in the $15 to $30 range, with lots of control possible.

These are just three samples chosen from the hundreds available across the country. Do a web search to find great focaccia restaurants near you. With focaccia becoming more and more popular there are few chains that fail to offer an acceptable focaccia sandwich.

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

3 Popular Focaccia Sandwiches

Focaccia bread is marvelously adapted to making fabulous focaccia sandwiches. This simple bread, can be prepared as an accompaniment to a main entrée or is equally suited to focaccia sandwich lunches the next day.

Focaccia is great with strong, simple flavors.

Three popular focaccia sandwiches are:

  • turkey and Gruyere cheese melt
  • roast beef with horseradish mayonnaise
  • tomato, basil and hummus with ajvar spread.

These three focaccia sandwiches will carry you from the most comforting basics to the intrigue of good vegetarian cooking, all using easily found ingredients.

Turkey and Gruyere Focaccia sandwich

For the turkey and Gruyere sandwich, you’ll need four ounces of sliced roast turkey breast, two slices of Gruyere cheese, a crisp leaf of romaine lettuce, a slice of tomato, and two tablespoons of mayonnaise, along with a wedge or square of focaccia. Split the focaccia and spread the bottom piece with mayonnaise. Add turkey and the Gruyere to the bottom side, with the Gruyere on top. Put both the bottom side and the top on a flame-proof plate or baking tray, and place under a broiler or in a toaster oven. Toast until the cheese begins to melt and bubble. Remove the sandwich, add tomato and lettuce, and serve.

Roast Beef Foccacia Sandwich

The roast beef sandwich is also simple: a pure, enjoyable sandwich with no frills. Again, split a sandwich-sized piece of focaccia and spread it with prepared horseradish mayonnaise. When the spread has been added, pile high with eight ounces of thin-sliced rare roast beef, and top with a lettuce leaf before serving.

Tomato, Basil And Hummus With Ajvar Spread

The final focaccia sandwich is a vegetarian delight. Spread split, toasted focaccia with hummus spread on one side and ajvar spread on the other. Ajvar is a roasted red pepper sauce found in many ordinary supermarkets these days: mild, sweet and savory, it contrasts nicely with nutty hummus. Add a thick slice of beefsteak tomato and one or two fresh basil leaves. A drizzle of olive oil can finish this wholesome preparation.

With easy recipes like these for yummy and healthy tasty focaccia sandwiches, who could resist. Go ahead; go make yourself a delectable focaccia sandwich.

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