"The bread makes the meal". That's what you know who said as we chowed down on focaccia and a pan of yummy spicy buttery Cajun shrimp last night. The Big Guy limited himself to oysters and crayfish (crawfish), tons of both I might add, while he was in New Orleans this past week and requested a big feed of Cajun shrimp for his homecoming dinner last night. One MUST have bread with such a thing so rather than buy a loaf I decided to make it instead.
Whipped up in our trusty KitchenAid stand mixer, it took exactly an hour and a half from start to finish to make this lovely pillowy focaccia. Just before the bread went into the oven I dimpled it up then coated it with olive oil and a dusting of freshly grated parmesan cheese, dried rosemary and coarse sea salt. The simple flavors went perfectly with our main course and the bread fulfilled its role admirably, the perfect "sopper" to pick up every single drop of the juice from the Cajun shrimp.
"You'll just have to make it more often" sayeth the King, and we all know he's usually right. Next time I'll add caramelized onions, or sun dried tomatoes, or pimento stuffed olives, or garlic to the top depending on what's on the menu but one thing's for certain. I can't wait to make it again.
By the way, in case the picture of the shrimp has your mouth watering, I'm including the recipe as well. We've had them here before but they're one dish well worth repeating. Incredibly quick, easy and tasty just make sure you've tons of napkins on hand because it is definitely finger food. Sure enough does make it easy on the dishwasher.
Focaccia Adapted from foodnetwork.com
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup very warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
2-1/2 to 3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup olive oil, plus additional for topping
Cornmeal as necessary
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Coarse sea salt
In the bowl of a stand mixer using a dough hook, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast on top and mix briefly. Let stand for 3 or 4 minutes until the yeast starts to foam. With the mixer on low, slowly add the all purpose flour as well as 1 cup of bread flour. Continue to mix until dough comes together. Meanwhile, mix the salt with a tablespoon of water, stirring until salt is dissolved. Add to bread along with olive oil, and then add remaining flour slowly until the bread leaves the side of the bowl and collects on the dough hook. Continue to mix for approximately 10 minutes until the bread is soft and smooth. If the dough seems too stiff, add a tablespoon of water and continue to mix. Dough should be soft but not sticky. Remove ball of dough to a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat the top with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size – about 45 minutes. (I heat a two cup measuring cup full of water to a boil in the microwave. Leave the water in the microwave and place the covered bowl of dough beside it, and put the light on in the microwave. It’s the perfect warm draft free place).
When dough has doubled in size, turn it out on a lightly floured surface and roll the dough to a rectangular shape about ½ inch thick. Lay it on a parchment covered pan which has been sprinkled with corn meal, cover with a towel and let rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile preheat oven to 400. Uncover the dough, dimple with your fingertips and brush the surface with more olive oil. Dust lightly with rosemary, parmesan cheese and coarse sea salt. Bake on lower rack for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.
Cajun Shrimp Adapted from Southern Living Magazine, my recipes.com
2 pounds medium shrimp, shell & tail on
1 lemon, cut in wedges
1 bay leaf
½ cup butter
½ cup ketchup
½ cup Worcestershire
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1-1/2 Tablespoons Old Bay
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Rinse shrimp and dry well. Place in pan with lemon wedges and bay leaf on top. Melt butter in small pot. Add ketchup, Worcestershire, garlic, old bay, rosemary and dried thyme. Mix well. Pour over shrimp. Bake in 400 oven 20 to 25 minutes, until shrimp is just cooked. Stir half way through cooking period. Recipe may be doubled or tripled as required.