When people find out I used to live in California, the first question they ask is “What do you miss the most?” Well, other than my family and friends (and Trader Joe’s) I miss the Grilled Rosemary Chicken Sandwich from the California Pizza Kitchen. Luckily, I have California Pizza Kitchen, Pasta, Salads, Soups and Sides in my cooking library.
Lately, I’ve been craving just the bread of the sandwich (focaccia) with tomato checca, so I got to work.
Fresh from the oven…
Topped with fresh tomato checca. Then, it’s time to eat!
Recipe adapted from the California Pizza Kitchen, Pasta, Salads, Soups and Sides
2 tsp active dry yeast
½ cup lukewarm water
3 ½ cups bread or all purpose flour
2 TBS honey
2 tsp salt
½ cup cold water
2 TBS plus 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small red union, quartered and sliced into 1/8” thick strips
2 tsp salt
1 ½ TBS chopped fresh rosemary
1 ½ TBS chopped fresh thyme
extra virgin olive oil
Sprinkle the yeast into the lukewarm water in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the yeast. Set aside.
In an upright electric mixer, combine the dissolved yeast in the mixer’s bowl with all the other ingredients except for the additional two teaspoons of olive oil. Try not to pour the salt direct into the yeast water because it might kill some of the yeast.
Use the dough hook and two lower speeds and gradually mix the dough for about 2-3 minutes, until a smooth and elastic ball forms. Don’t overmix or the dough will become tough.
Lightly oil the dough ball and the inside of a large glazed ceramic or glass bowl with the remaining olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Make sure an airtight seal is formed. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk (about 2 hours).
Punch down the dough, reform into a round ball and place into the same bowl. Cover with plastic wrap again. Refrigerate overnight.
About two hours before assembling the focaccias, remove dough from the refrigerator. Divide the dough (I use a bench knife) into eight portions.
On to the baking portion…
On a non-floured surface, roll each portion of dough back and forth with your hands to form a 9-inch long rope.
Sprinkle a light dusting of flour onto a clean surface. Roll each rope out from side to side, using a rolling pin, to form a flat, oblong shape measuring 9 by 2 inches.
Place the focaccias at least one inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. To help the onions and herbs stick, lightly spray or brush the surface of each focaccia with cold water. Distribute the red onion on top of each, gently pressing into the surface. Sprinkle equal amounts of salt, then the thyme and rosemary over the top of each. Drizzle a light amount of extra-virgin olive oil over the herbs and onion. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for thirty minutes.
Place a pizza stone on the lowest rack of the oven and pre-heat to 450 degrees F.
Remove the plastic wrap and slide the parchment with the focaccias directly onto the pizza stone. Bake until golden brown, about 11-12 minutes.
Transfer focaccias to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm with checca.
2 lbs roma tomatoes (or any ripe, fresh tomatoes), cut into 1/2” dice
1 TBS minced garlic, or more if you’re in my family
1 TBS chopped fresh basil
2 tsp salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Mix all of the ingredients together and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time. Make sure and bring the checca to room temperature before serving.