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Focaccia – Ragusa-Style

 

One of our many fun food finds in Sicily was a local take on focaccia. While everywhere we went, it was referred to as focaccia, it seems it’s also referred to as scacce. It’s a stuffed bread. A fantastic, fabulous, and absolutely delicious stuffed bread.

It was one of the first dishes we had and it was a recurring item, everywhere. The great thing is no two were ever alike. Similar traits, but always different flavors. It is a bread with no rules that changes with the seasons.

It starts with a ball of dough.

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We made this with Italian “00” floor because we bought 10 kilos of it before our trip. All-purpose will work just fine.

It is rolled out paper-thin, and then a thin layer of fillings is added.

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This was tomato sauce and then a layer of fresh ricotta Victor made. It was then topped with thin slices of fried eggplant.

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It then gets folded. The two ends fold to meet in the center, a bit of filling is added and then they are folded in half.

A bit of sauce goes on top and into a hot oven. 20-30 minutes later, you have achieved focaccia ragusana.

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While we usually had it as a part of a thgree-hour meal, we thought we could live on it, alone, for dinner tonight.

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And have plenty for lunch tomorrow, as well. Funny how those three-hour meals just aren’t as much fun here…

But we do plan on making more fun meals – and showing them off on some new fun plates and bowls.

On our last trip to Italy, we bought dinnerware in Florence, along with a few serving platters. What we didn’t get were serving bowls that are practical. We have a few that take up most of a table, but they don’t quite make it for a mere 5 or 6 at the table.

So two new bowls came home with us.

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They’re the perfect size for a big batch of mashed potatoes, vegetables, or even salads.

I also wanted to get little bowls for salt and pepper by the stove. I don’t measure S&P, I use my fingers and add a pinch here and there. The bowls we have used for years were just 99¢ Ikea glass bowls. Time for an upgrade.

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They’re the perfect size – and they were really inexpensive – just a couple of euro each.

We got these in Modica at a local shop, along with a couple of ornaments, and a few other things. We made a trek to Caltagirone – the ceramics capital of Sicily – for a few more goodies…

I wanted a new cake platter since the one we have with the faux-Italian design that is slightly off-center is machine-made Made in China – and just not worthy of our culinary efforts. First place we walked into, we saw the perfect plate.

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The perfect plate that didn’t make the trip home in one piece. Even with some pretty good wrapping, it broke in half and chipped in a couple of places. Some good glue and it will work just fine. And now I don’t have to worry about anything happening to it. It already has.

We also wanted plates for dolce – dessert.  Sweets.

We walked in and out of a few shops and found some plates that just seemed right. The owner of the shop was also the artist who created them and gave us a tour of the shop, his studio, things in his kiln. It was a really fun experience. I lived with my dear ceramic artist friend Susan for years in both Tahoe and Boston and know first hand the work involved in creating these works of art. Each piece was better than the next. We had to settle for four small plates. I would have loved to bring home half of his shop.

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All different, yet complimentary. Can’t wait to use ’em!

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And just because we saw it and liked it, we got a little wall piece at yet another shop.

The prices were good – we stayed well within our budget.

Now… back to tonight’s dinner…

Victor made fresh homemade ricotta for these, but, as good as the fresh ricotta is, it’s a little wasted on these if you add other filling flavors. A store-bought ricotta will work just fine unless you make it as a dessert.

Focaccia Ragusata

(makes two)

  • 9 oz  all-purpose flour (Italian “00” if you have it!)
  • 5/8 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch salt

Proof yeast in warm water. Add flour, salt, and oil, and mix well. Knead about 5-6 minutes or until a smooth, elastic dough forms. Roll into a ball, cover, and let rest 30 minutes.

Divide dough in half and roll into a large, very thin circle. Spread with a very thin layer of tomato sauce and then top with a thin layer of ricotta. Add slices of fried eggplant.

Fold sides to almost meet in the center. Brush new tops with a bit of sauce and cheese. Fold in half, again, and press lightly to seal. Paint a bit of sauce on top.

Put into a preheated 475° oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until dark brown. Take out of the oven and cover with a towel to trap steam and soften the top.

These really are no-rules focaccia.

The raw, uncooked rolls can be sliced into 6 or 8 pieces, dredged in grated cheese, liberally brushed with beaten egg on top, and then baked cinnamon-roll style.

The filling can be sweet or savory, they can be brushed with sauce, olive oil, egg, or left plain before baking.

You can brush a thin layer of olive oil on the dough and forego the tomato sauce altogether. Add some nuts – pistachios – or bits of sausage.  Little bits of anything.

The only must-do is make them.

 

 

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