Cranberry Focaccia Recipe – Delicious, But… December 15, 2009

Filed under: Breads — sotsil @ 6:47 pm
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combo rose, pine cran

A cranberry focaccia recipe was featured in a SAQ insert in the Montreal Gazette weeks ago.  SAQ stands for Société des alcools de Québec – Quebec’s liquor commission.  When they promote new wines, they send out a leaflet called Tchin Tchin containing a dozen recipes that go well with these wines.  You can view it here: (

I wanted to try the recipe for three reasons:  (a) it was fairly easy to follow (no prior kitchen acrobatics required), (b) it called for store-bought pizza dough and (c) it had only three toppings (read my lips:  no-fuss recipe).

The combination of cranberries and rosemary is nothing new.  If you google “cranberry focaccia” there are as many recipes for it as there are for say, lasagna or spicy meatballs.  Even Gordon Ramsay has a recipe!  The third topping – pine nuts – sharpens the unique flavor of this focaccia. 

Taste-wise, I’d give this recipe an A+.  It was my first time to try the cranberry/rosemary/pine nuts blend and I was won over.  I’m not sure if I would classify it as a savoury bread because of the cranberries, but then I would be splitting hairs in this case.  Savoury breads connote the use of herbs, so the rosemary would put this focaccia in that category.

Here’s the recipe (you can also get it from the URL above).  Read my comments afterwards because this recipe, though delicious and utterly savoury, can certainly be modified, in terms of the procedure.

Ingredients (makes one loaf)

  • 1 ball store-bought pizza dough (about 1 pound)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • fine sea salt


1.  Place the pizza dough on a plate, brush with the olive oil and cover with a damp cloth.  Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or for six hours at room temperature.

2.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). 

3.  Roll the dough out into a 30 cm x 38 cm rectangle (12 in x 15 in).  Sprinkle with the dried cranberries and rosemary and press them firmly into the dough. 


4.  Fold the dough in half and roll out again into the same-sized rectangle.

5.  Transfer to a greased baking sheet.  Brush the dough with oil and sprinkle with the pine nuts.


6.  Leave to rise for 10 minutes or until nicely puffed.  Add salt and bake on the lowest oven rack for 10 minutes or until golden.


My comments re this cranberry focaccia recipe:

1.  I used dried rosemary because the store didn’t have fresh ones that day.  I’ll use fresh rosemary the next time (yes, I will make it again).  Peter Reinhart also recommends using fresh.  As for the cranberries, I felt no need to chop them.

2.  I had a hard time shaping the dough into a 12in x 15in rectangle, even after resting time.  Maybe I should have weighed the dough.  It may have been under a pound, which is why I could not stretch it out to that measurement.  But this is not a major problem.

3.  Instead of folding the dough over to sprinkle pine nuts, I would put the pine nuts together with the cranberry and rosemary.  Spreading them atop the dough was precarious – some of them fell off.  This can still be done if you poked your fingers into the dough and created pockets on which the pine nuts could sit.  I remember reading Peter Rinehart’s recipe for focaccia and it called for this poking step and dousing the dough with herb oil (which can be made at home he says).  He didn’t say anything about folding the dough in half.

4.  The dough did not rise that well.  I think it’s my fault – I over-kneaded.

5.  The “bake for 10-minutes or until golden” instruction was more like 20 minutes.  There’s nothing wrong with my oven – it’s only six years old.  I had to put on the broiler on high for 2 minutes because the dough remained pale.  Of course, my pine nuts burned as you can see in the last picture above.  This is another reason why I would incorporate the pine nuts with the cranberries and rosemary instead of sprinkling it on top of the dough.

Verdict?  A simple but oh-so-delicious recipe, folks!  If you haven’t tried the rosemary and cranberry combination, if and you’re not allergic to rosemary, this focaccia has the ooomph and punch of a breakfast or afternoon snack!  A refreshing departure from your cheese and tomato sauce pizza!


Gnocchi, Spinach & Pine Nuts: Budget Meal # 2 September 26, 2009

Filed under: Budget Meals — sotsil @ 11:34 am
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Jackie Mills (MS, RD) contributed this recipe to  It was originally published in the January 2009 issue of Cooking Light.  And light it is, despite the butter.

I call it my budget meal # 2 because I spent only $7.00 and it’s good for two people!  Get the recipe from the link above (it’s still there because I just checked).  The recipe is called Brown Butter Gnocchi with Spinach and Pine Nuts. 

I had never tasted gnocchi before and I love pine nuts so the time was ripe for me to try this recipe.  What I like about it is that it calls for fresh spinach which doesn’t need to be cooked (you just throw it in) and there are only 8 ingredients – which already includes your salt, pepper, garlic and butter.  The only expensive item in this recipe are the pine nuts.  I keep a supply of it because I like adding them to aglio e oglio (poor man’s spaghetti as my sister calls it).  I buy them in a small plastic container from one of my favorite supermarkets – Mourelatos – and they cost about $6.00.  This quantity is good for five cooking sessions of aglio e oglio or five cooking sessions for this gnocchi recipe.

For a step-by-step instruction on how to make this dish, watch the video here:  If this link doesn’t work, go to the first URL above and then scroll down to the section where it says “See this recipe in…”  It’s below the image.  You’ll see the video recorder icon.  In the video, Polly says to add your cooked gnocchi to the mixture so you’ll have to cook the gnocchi before you saute the garlic, pine nuts and spinach in the butter .  Boil water and then put your gnocchi.  Drain them only after they rise to the surface of the water – this takes about 5 minutes, maybe even less.  When you buy your gnocchi, instructions will be on the package.  If you overcook them, they’ll crack!

Here’s the breakdown for this budget meal.  I won’t include the salt, pepper, garlic and butter because these are foods you already have:


Jackie Mills suggests adding bacon bits on top and pairing it with a Sauvignon blanc!

Trivia:  gnocchi means lumps; singular form is gnocco.  It was very popular in northern Italy but Brazilians also love it.  Gnocchi can be made by hand, but you need a truckload of patience, a potato ricer and a gnocchi mold.  I believe the pressure-packed supermarket variety is just as good!

If you look again at the photo above, there’s a cream-coloured handmade doily – that’s from my good friend Gina (a creative woman who comes up with wonderful creations using her hands – and she has fed me many times in the past with her Italian cooking!)