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October’s Third Thursday October 15, 2009

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Cooking Challenge, random stuff, Third Thursday.
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So here it is again already – the third Thursday of the month!  My goodness, the time just creeps up on you, doesn’t it?

PhotobucketThis month, I chose to try something super-seasonal, from a blog that I so enjoy reading called Over a Tuscan Stove.  It’s like a glimpse of a whole different world – Judy, the blogger, shares not just recipes, but people and friends and trips to the marketplace . . . a whole lovely life that she chose for herself 25 years ago when she emigrated to Italy.

PhotobucketA couple of weeks ago, she talked about how each region in Italy has seasonal dishes – dishes that rely on a particular seasonal ingredient.

Like grapes.

And just like in Tuscany, grape season in upstate New York is definitely the sign of the autumn harvest.  There are just a few short weeks that fresh Concord grapes are even available; the rest of the year, we have to make do with Welch’s.  And so of course, I jumped at a recipe for Schiacciata con l’uva – focaccia with grapes.

It sounds better in Italian, doesn’t it?  Less weird.

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This was surprising – I loved the rosemary-scented oil in the bread part.  I was a little skeptical – all I did was was heat some olive oil with one sprig of fresh rosemary (yes, it was Tuscan Blue rosemary!).  How much difference is that really going to make?

Surprisingly, quite a bit.  I mean, there wasn’t anything “rosemary-y” that I could really pick out – just a lovely herbiness that complemented the sweet concord grapes beautifully!

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And of course, with a quarter cup of oil, as well as 1/4 cup of sugar, it was a delightfully soft, just-barely-sweet bread dough, too.

I really didn’t make any changes to the original recipe, except to mix and knead the dough in the stand mixer.  After all, why have it if you don’t use it, right?

Now the fun part.

PhotobucketWe divided the dough in half, and  rolled out half of it to just fit a half-sheet pan.  Now, since I’ve had some experience with both bread and with grapes, I made sure to line the pan – I used a silicone mat, mainly because they are so cool!

I layered a little more than half of the quart of grapes on top of the dough, sprinkled with some sugar and drizzled with olive oil.

PhotobucketWe rolled out the other half of the dough the same way, laid it right over the grapes, sealed the edges, then mashed the grapes between the layers of dough!

Seriously!

We didn’t totally pulverize them – just mashed them enough to basically break the skin.

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Now we took the remainder of the grapes, scattered them on top,  mashed them a bit, too, and sprinkled with a little more sugar and a drizzle of honey.

Then, into a 350° oven until the crust was golden, which took about 30-40 minutes.

So here’s the finished cake loaf thing.

PhotobucketAnd here are my final thoughts.

This stuff is amazing – it’s the perfect way to showcase the grapes – the bread, on its own, is lovely – soft and slightly sweet and a little herby, but a supporting player to the star of the show – those fresh concords.  Served slightly warm, with a cup of freshly-brewed coffee, I wanted to (though I didn’t) keep going back for more.

A couple of . . . things, though.

First, while it’s evidently traditional, the seeds in the grapes just didn’t really thrill any of us.  Sure, they forced you to slow down and really savor each bite, but crunching grape seeds just isn’t fun.  I know that there are seedless concords a little later in the season – it might be worth waiting.

Also, be sure, if you make this, or something like it, there are plenty of people around to eat it.  This does not keep well.  The grapes, while they start out beautifully juicy and delicious, make for a kind of soggy loaf of bread the next day.  If you’ve got several people, it’s can be a perfect part of Sunday brunch.  We had three, and two of us had already had breakfast . . . that’s a lot left over.

All in all, though, I’m glad I made this – and next year, if I can scrounge up a crowd to feed, I just may try it again!

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Comments

1. sjbraun - October 19, 2009

Oh, dear – I got totally screwed up and was thinking it was this COMING Thursday – ughhh. Next month, next month – I promise! Meantime, your creation looks absolutely delish!

– No problem – I kept thinking the same thing! It surely can’t be the third week of the month already! I think it’s because October started on a Thursday. Either that, or we’re just getting old and time’s getting away from us. 😕

I do love fresh grapes – years ago, I worked in the vineyards and was “off” them for a while, but it’s been long enough now that once the leaves start turning and the nights start getting cold, I really look forward to them!


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