Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Aug 22, 2006 at 11:41am

My Johnny, headin’ to the beach, totally relaxed, loving his vacation…he had a particularly great time in EH this year. He stayed longer than Nathan and I did, didn’t come back until late Saturday night, and those extra days worked their magic. He hasn’t had a week-long vacation in, well, years, maybe since we went to Africa with my family. Almost four years ago! Back to reality yesterday…

Stacey and Cooper are back from vaca too, after three weeks at my parents’ place at Sun West Ranch, south of Bozeman, MT. I can’t wait to see Cooper and the two teeth he sprouted while away!

Yep, we’re all winding our summer down, sigh. The Minnesota State Fair – aka The Great Minnesota Get-Together – opens on Thursday, always the summer’s last hurrah. Andrew Zimmern will be out there in all his glory, I’ll definitely be linking to his blog, Chow & Again, for the duration! And perhaps John and I will take a trip out ourselves, eat a Pronto Pup among twenty other naughty things. Stay tuned…

Today, Nathan and I are going to earn our planned crispy shrimp-foccacia sandwich dinner: first, we’ll bake the bread. Second, I’m forcing him to go on a bike ride with me (he’s anti-bike these days). Third, we’re both going to finish unpacking from EH (there are little remnants lying around…pair of shoes here, bag of toys there, beach bag here, comic books there). If I’m really motivated, maybe I’ll challenge him to a desk-cleaning contest, oooh, his vs. mine. Both are complete disasters, ack. THEN we’ll fry shrimp and stuff it into warm foccacia, along with cool, crunchy cabbage, raw onions, and a smear of spicy mayo. NICE, huh? Again, stay tuned…

Oh my! That foccacia is so good it’s obscene! Yikes! I’ve not made home-made foccacia before and perhaps I never should again… Nah,it’s waaaay too good to give up! Nathan and I baked it together, a very easy bread since it doesn’t even require kneading. You just have to start early in the day because there are basically three risings – first of the biga, which is a fermented starter of yeast, water, and flour. Then, the dough itself. And last, the shaped loaf in the pan. And oh, is it worth the all-day prep! (Recipe posted in comments, below.)

Obviously, we’ve sampled the foccacia before preparing the shrimp for the sandwiches. Don’t worry, we left plenty (John might not agree, but it was the most restrained we could be with a warm loaf of fresh-baked bread in front of us!).

Deadly little mothers, those sandwiches. We made smallish ones, thankfully, with four pieces of shrimp each, and that is plenty, definitely. At least for Nathan and me. Again on the deck, that’s my favorite combination, food + the great outdoors. Everything tastes better outside!

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  1. By Stephanie on August 22, 2006 at 8:14PM

    Tabasco Remoulade
    Adapted rom Cuisine at Home Magazine
    Makes 1 cup

    1/2 c. red bell pepper, chopped
    1/4 c. scallions, chopped
    1/4 c. mayonnaise
    1/4 c. Dijon mustard
    1-2 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce (your taste)
    2 Tbsp. honey
    1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
    salt to taste

    Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt to taste.

  2. By Stephanie on August 22, 2006 at 8:11PM

    Fried Shrimp Sandwiches
    Serves 4

    1 loaf Foccia Bread (see recipe above)

    1 1b. medium-sized, raw, peeled, deveined, tail-on shrimp (I buy frozen shrimp, since what they sell at the fish counter here was also frozen, and then thawed, and therefore less fresh), tails pull off
    1 c. flour
    1 c. masa harina or finely ground corn meal
    1 Tbsp. salt
    1 tsp. cayenne pepper
    peanut oil for frying

    Sauce (see recipe below)
    2 c. thinly sliced cabbage
    1/2 c. thinly sliced sweet onion

    A couple of hours before frying, thaw frozen shrimp in a large bowl of cold, salted water, set in the refrigerator. Just before frying, put the flour, masa harina, salt, and cayenne pepper in a Ziploc bag. Remove shrimp from the water a few at a time, shaking off excess water, and add them to the Ziploc. Seal the bag and shake around until the shrimp are coated with the flour/masa harina mixture. Set the bag aside for a few minutes while you heat the oil, 2-3 inches deep, in a wok or Dutch oven, over medium-high to high heat until oil is hot. Set out a platter lined with paper towels. Then remove the shrimp from the bag one at a time, with a tongs, shaking off excess flour, and drop the shrimp into the hot oil. It should sizzle immediately. Add up to 5 shrimp at a time, not crowding the pan, and fry for 2-4 minutes, turning them over if needed, until lightly browned and crispy on all sides. Remove with tongs to the paper-towel lined platter. Continue frying until all the shrimp are done.

    Assemble sandwiches by slicing foccacia into 3x4-inch rectangles. Slice in half lenghwise. Place 4-5 shrimps on one half, top with a bit of cabbage and onion and drizzle with sauce. Top with the other bread half and serve immediately.

  3. By Stephanie on August 22, 2006 at 8:05PM

    Foccacia Bread
    Adapted from Cuisine at Home Magazine
    Makes one 9x13” loaf

    Begin the day before.

    For the biga:
    1 ½ c. water, room temperature
    1 packet dry yeast (1/4 oz. or 2 ¼ tsp.)
    1 c. bread flour

    For the dough:
    2 c. bread flour
    2 tsp. fine sea salt
    ½ tsp. sugar

    2 Tbsp. rosemary, chopped
    3 Tbsp. olive oil
    ½ tsp. coarse salt

    Whisk the water and yeast together for the biga in a glass or metal bowl. Add 1 cup flour and whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight (but no longer than 16 hours; the bread will taste best if the biga ferments overnight in the fridge, but 3-4 hours at room temperature is okay.)

    Before preparing the dough, bring the biga to room temperature, setting it on the counter for 1 hour. It will be thick and foamy. Combine the biga, flour, salt, and sugar for the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed for 1 minute, or until incorporated. Transfer dough to a bowl coated with nonstick spray. Pull the dough up and over itself until its top is smooth, then coat with nonstick spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 1 ½ - 2 hours.

    Drizzle 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a 9x13” baking pan (glass is fine, but metal will yield a crisper crust), then smear it to coat using your hands. Press dough evenly into the pan (if it springs back too much, let it rest a few minutes), cover with plastic, and let rise until 1” thick, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Top dough with rosemary. Coat fingers with nonstick spray, then press them into the dough down to the bottom of the pan to “dimple” – not too many or the dough will collapse. Drizzle dough with remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil, sprinkle lightly with the coarse salt, and bake until the top is golden and sides pull away from the pan, 25-30 minutes. Transfer the bread from the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before slicing. Foccacia is best served the same day it’s baked.

  4. By Suz on August 22, 2006 at 5:00PM

    That's right, isn't it, us minxes were going to maybe try to do a roving podcast from the State Fair, weren't we...? Hmmmm!