For Basic Focaccia (Italian Flat Bread):
3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 package quick-rise active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups warm water (115º to 125º F.)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 rounded tablespoon malted milk powder
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil and a pastry brush
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
1. In large bowl of an electric mixer stir together 3 cups of flour, yeast, salt, malted milk powder and sugar.
2. Add warm water to flour and mix together. Stir in about 1/4 cup of the remaining flour to make soft dough, which holds together, instead of sticking to the sides of the bowl.
3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and satiny (8 to 10 minutes), adding just enough flour (up to 1/3 cup) to prevent dough from being sticky.
4. Turn dough into a bowl sprayed with olive oil cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (30 to 45 minutes).
5. Preheat oven to 450º F. Punch dough down into a 13- by 15-inch rectangle and transfer to baking sheet. Brush top lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Bake until golden (about 15 minutes). Remove from oven and brush again with remaining olive oil. Allow focaccia to cool a few minutes, then serve.
Yield: 12 pieces at approximately 140 calories; 1.3 grams total fat; 0.2 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 28 grams carbohydrate; 0.3 gram dietary fiber; 4 grams protein; 275 milligrams sodium.
ROASTED GARLIC AND FRESH BASIL PESTO
1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Using a sharp knife, slice each head of garlic in half crosswise. Rejoin the top of the garlic head with the bottom and wrap tightly in foil. Bake garlic for 35 to 40 minutes or until garlic cloves become soft and easy to scoop out of skin. Remove garlic from oven and allow to cool 10 to 15 minutes before unwrapping foil. Using a small spoon or knife, scoop roasted garlic out of each individual clove and set aside in a small bowl or cup.
2. Combine roasted garlic with basil, olive oil, butter seasoning and cheeses in a food processor or blender. Blend all ingredients together until smooth; transfer pesto to small covered bowl and set aside until ready to use.
Yield: About 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons or 7 1-oz. (2 tablespoons) servings at approximately 68 calories; 3.7 grams total fat; 0.9 gram saturated fat; 6 milligrams cholesterol; 3.9 grams carbohydrate; 0.2 dietary fiber; 3 grams protein; 214 milligrams sodium.
Roasted Sweet Peppers
To roast sweet red, yellow or orange bell peppers, cut in half and remove seeds. Put halves on baking sheet skin side up and place under broiler. Broil peppers until skins are charred black, 5 to 10 minutes. Place roasted peppers in plastic bag and seal. Allow peppers to sweat 10 minutes. Remove peppers from container and peel off skin. Slice roasted pepper halves into thin strips and set aside.
FOCACCIA WITH ROASTED GARLIC PESTO, ITALIAN MUSHROOMS AND ROASTED SWEET PEPPERS
1. After allowing foccacia to cool, spread surface evenly with pesto and top with mushrooms and roasted pepper strips
2. Reduce oven heat to 400º F. and bake for 5 to 8 minutes more, until heated through. Remove foccacia from oven and top with Asiago cheese. Cut into 12 or 24 squares and serve as an appetizer or as an accompaniment to soup, salad etc.
Yield: 12 pieces at approximately 199 calories; 3 grams total fat; 0.8 gram saturated fat; 11 milligrams cholesterol; 33 grams carbohydrate; 1.7 grams dietary fiber; 10 grams protein; 357 milligrams sodium.