Easy Breezy Summer Picnics

Summer is a great time to catch up with friends over a glass of wine and a few nibbles.  The Bay Area has so many lovely parks and wineries, so there’s never a dearth of locations to enjoy a picnic.  Recently, I met up with a dear friend and we decided to bring a few things to share and enjoy.

Focaccia bread is fast becoming my new savory addiction.  With a little planning, it is easy to make, and the combination of toppings is endless.  I have been using my skillet every chance I get, and I recently came across this easy recipe for skillet focaccia on Pinterest:

http://www.crunchycreamysweet.com/2013/02/25/one-hour-skillet-focaccia/

*I did leave the dough to double in size for about an hour (instead of 20 minutes per the recipe.)  No need to be afraid of yeast (I was for years).  With an inexpensive little candy thermometer, proofing the yeast becomes a piece of cake.  The dough can also be refrigerated overnight, to bake later if you wish.

My version has caramelized onions, black olives, and sliced sport peppers (for a kick!).  I also sprinkled some sea salt at the end and topped it off with some shredded fresh parmesan cheese.  To caramelize the onions, I sliced one red onion thinly (you can use a knife or a mandolin slicer) and sautéed the slices in olive oil in a cast iron pan for about 10 minutes on a low to medium setting until the onions look “shriveled” (but not burnt).  Once the onions have caramelized, let the onions cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before incorporating them into the dough.I recommend pressing the onions in the dough first, followed by the olives and peppers, so the onions don’t come off when you cut the bread.

The focaccia is great with a little marinara sauce on the side or on it’s own!

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The tomato plants at home have been prolific this year, so I picked a couple and decided to fix a quick tomato and basil salad.  Just slice ripe tomatoes (thin skinned but not too mushy) into quarters, drizzle a little olive oil, sprinkle a little sea salt, and tear off some fresh basil to garnish over the tomatoes and there you have it!  A little bread, some tomatoes, grapes, cheese and a glass of Riesling or bubbly – a lovely and light summer picnic!

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