My creative release is cooking: exploring different spices, pulses, vegetables, and combining the said ingredients into wonderful savory and sweet concoctions. I’ve spent the last couple of years trying and recreating recipes from around the world and adding my own spin to them. Travel provides the perfect vehicle to try the new and the exotic.
Travel and exploration need not have to entail an airline ticket and a pricey hotel booking. Sometimes the most satisfying adventure can lie just a few miles down the road. Last weekend Hubby dear and I decided to venture out to Half Moon Bay and travel down the coast along Highway 1 and take in the scenery. We discovered this cute little town by the name of Pescadero, 18 miles south of Half Moon Bay. The town is really one country road anchored by the Duarte’s Tavern on one end, and the town’s church on the other. In between, are small shops: a coffee shop, a handmade furniture store, and a couple of country stores. We wandered into the Pescadero Country Store and discovered piping hot loaves of bread – freshly made and emanating heat. We soon found out they were loaves of artichoke bread! The loaves started to disappear as soon as soon as the young man put a half dozen in the basket. Being a slave to carbs, I had to pick one up (all the while eying the $6+ price tag from the corner of my eye).
Small garden nursery in Pescadero
Diets be damned! Hubby dear and I tore into the warm soft bread and the wonderful chunks of artichoke pieces were just heavenly. Initially we thought that the loaf would just have a few artichoke leaves or pieces but did not expect such large chunks nestled into the fluffy crevices of the loaf. Not being able to get the taste of the delectable bread out of my mind, I gingerly proceeded in creating my own version of artichoke bread. My version is a simple round focaccia loaf that has large pieces of artichoke throughout and topped off with the a generous slathering of oil and za’atar (Middle Eastern spice made of sumac, thyme, oregano, marjoram, and sesame seeds. Available at your neighborhood Middle Eastern store or on Amazon.com: Sadaf Za’atar). The result is pretty darned good and close to the original, if I do say so myself!
I use the following recipe as the basis for my recipe: One Hour Skillet Focaccia and add a can of artichokes (drained, and roughly chopped. Trader Joe’s sells cans of “Artichoke Hearts” that are excellent) and a liberal brush of za’atar and extra virgin olive oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes and allow to cool completely before cutting.
Artichoke and za’atar focaccia bread