This past week we took a family trip to Montreal to visit our son at McGill University and to take in the sites of the big city. I love Montreal—it feels like another world that we can transport ourselves to easily, in a very short time. The weather was glorious with a light, pleasant wind blowing at our backs as we strolled in the old city along the waterfront. Lucky to be there before tourist season and during the early hours on Monday morning, we felt like this ancient section of the city was ours for the taking. I marveled at the history around us—I could feel the heartbeats of Montreal’s early settlers and first peoples in the warmth of the cobblestones under my feet. I could experience the hope in the spirit of the refugees who continue to come ashore via the St. Lawrence Seaway. I could smell the fear of the native peoples whose homes would be forever changed by the arrival of so many Europeans. It was a lot to take in but made our experience of the city rich and full.
Thinking about the changes in that territory, while I walked and talked with my family, I felt like a kite blowing in the gentle wind. So much of family life—of parenting in particular—is a give and take between support and letting go, between offering guidance and knowing when to stand back, when to let the wind be the guide. When will I stop thinking and trying to control the wind? Every day is an opportunity for love and growth even when I am not feeling in control in the moment or micro-managing my life. The kite trusts the wind. When will I? Soon. I hope, soon.
Montreal is a food city—every meal was a true delight for the senses. Meals there invariably start with fresh, warm bread of one sort or another. This Multigrain Focaccia with Spring Herbs is reminiscent of a flatbread we were served during lunch at a small Italian café. Focaccia is an Italian flatbread that should not be confused with pizza. Its dough requires more yeast than pizza dough, so it rises to make a thicker crust, and typically does not have heavy toppings or sauce like traditional pizza. Filled with fruity olive oil and Herbes de Provence, then topped with more olive oil and fresh herbs, this bread is delicious straight from the oven with a glass of wine and a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. For a fuller meal, add a Market Morning Salador Roasted Asparagus and a plate of smoked meats. Bring your meal outside. Enjoy it picnic-style on the deck or the front porch, while a gentle spring breeze touches and moves you.
I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.
MULTIGRAIN FOCACCIA WITH SPRING HERBS
Yield: One 11-inch focaccia, about 10 slices
- 1⅓ cups water
- ⅓ cup olive oil plus a bit more for the bowl, pan and to drizzle on the finished focaccia
- 1 cup all-purpose bread flour
- 2 cups multigrain flour
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- Handful assorted spring herbs, rinsed and lightly chopped
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or dough hook. Mix together until a solid dough forms.(It will be a sticky dough, that is okay.)
- Lightly oil a large mixing bowl. Turn the dough out into the bowl, cover with a clean tea towel, and set in a warm place to rise until it is doubled, about one to two hours.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil an 11-inch round springform pan.
- Punch the dough down. Transfer it to the prepared springform pan. Using your hands, gently spread the dough so that it fits to the shape of the pan and is evenly distributed. Let sit 10 minutes.
- Place in the preheated oven. Bake until puffed and golden, about 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven. Allow to cool slightly. Wearing heat protective oven mitts, remove the outer ring of the springform pan and gently slide the focaccia onto a serving plate. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, to taste. Sprinkle with the prepared fresh herbs and the grated parmesan, if using.
- Serve warm and enjoy.
- If multigrain flour is not available using the following proportions of flour instead: 1 cup whole wheat flour, ½ cup corn meal and ½ cup rye flour.
- For a gluten-free variation, try substituting the following for the flours: 1 cup brown rice flour, 2 cups potato starch & 1 tablespoon xanthan gum. I have not made this variation yet. I am basing it on another gluten-free bread recipe I own. Please let me know if you try it and how it worked!
- The ingredients can be mixed together by hand, if you prefer. Or, in a bread machine on the dough setting. Once mixed, follow the remaining steps.
- You can top this focaccia with pretty much anything you like once it comes out of the oven. Just add the ingredients while it is still warm. Some suggestions include: slivered sun-dried tomatoes, chopped olives, goat cheese, chopped nuts, cooked chopped meats or grated Cheddar cheese.
- For a full meal, serve with a Market Morning Salad or Simple Roasted Asparagus,Spring Tartlets, a bottle of white wine and a platter of smoked meats.