Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Focaccia Bread

Focaccia bread is a versatile bread, perfect as a snack bread, hors d'oeuvres, or alongside soup.  The bread is fairly flat and dense when baked, rising to approximately 2 - 3" in height.  It can be baked with a simple topping of olive oil and sea salt, or a more elaborating toppings pairing various herbs.   Be creative -

2 hours

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F



2 tablespoons rapid-rising dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)

3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt (Plus additional for topping)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil  (Plus 2-3 tablespoons for topping)
cornmeal for dusting baking pan


Combine 1 cup warm water with 2 tablespoons of rapid-rise yeast in a coffee cup.  Wisk the water and yeast together to combine well.  Once combined, let it stand 10 minutes to proof, (do not stir during the proofing process) the mixture will become frothy. 

In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients; 3 1/2 cups flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, and 1 tablespoon of sea salt.  Mix the dry ingredients together to combine. 

Use an electric mixer with dough hook attachment to combine ingredients forming dough, or sir by hand if you prefer.   Once yeast is proofed, add it to your mixing bowl, start mixer on low speed, then add 1/4 cup olive oil, and mix one minute to combine.

Next add dry ingredients one tablespoon at a time as mixer is mixing. Continue to add dry ingredients with mixer on low speed until soft dough forms. Stop as needed to scrape the side of the mixing bowl, pushing the dough down to the bottom, allowing it to be whipped by dough hook. If needed add additional 1/2 cup of flour. Continue mixing for 5 - 8 minutes, until a soft, smooth dough forms.

Flour a work surface.  Turn the dough out onto the surface.  Fold the dour over itself three to four times. The should be soft, not sticky, if it sticky add a small bit of flour and knead. Next, rise the dough. Oil a tall stainless steel bowl. Fill kitchen sink with hot water, enough to rise up 1/3 on the bowl. Insert the bowl into the sink, and cover the sink with a clean towel. Let sit half to one hour until dough is doubled in size. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Punch down dough, then turn out onto lined backing sheet.  Push dough outward, forming a rectangular shape, approximately 1/2" thick. 

Once dough is in desired shape, lift one side of the dough, dust beneath with cornmeal, repeat this process on the other side.  Cornmeal under the bread will create a crispy crusty bottom. 

Using a fork, poke holes in the top of the bread, to allow the dough to vent during the baking process.  Let dough stand 20 to 30 minutes to rise.  

Once dough has risen, cover with 2 - 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Then bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. 

Remove from oven and cut into small squares or rectangles for serving. 

Additional topping ideas; fresh chopped herbs; thyme, rosemary, tarragon,  and garlic, paired with chopped olives, or fruits like cherries and figs.  You are limited only by our imagination.
Bon Appetite!  

Until next time, wishing you all the best -


Sunday, February 19, 2017

I Love A Mardi Gras Parade!

The Knights of Momus, KOM is the oldest Galveston Krewe,  origins date back to 1867.   The torch lit parade of decorated horse drawn carriages, carrying Ladies and Gentlemen in their festive finery, wandering Sealy Street to Turner Hall, was truly an elaborate spectacle.  The masquerade ball, attended by the socialites of Galveston, featured a full orchestra, fine cuisine, and wine. The image of women in embroidered silk gowns adorned with flowing trains, feather head dress, and sequined masks, being escorted by men in stunning suits of equal ornamentation, stepping from carriages to make there way inside Turner Hall, these are images of distant dreams, memories. 

Today the KOM parade is still one of the most exciting, and anticipated parades of the season.   Each year the theme of the parade is different, floats and costumes are amended to reflect the chosen theme. Thousands of beads are loaded upon elaborate floats to be tossed to excited crowds lining the parade route.  The king of the parade, sits high atop the first float leading the procession down the Seawall, across Rosenberg, and in to downtown Galveston upon Mechanics Row, then around to The Strand. 

A closer look at some of the Momus floats as they await their moment to shine - 

Hand painted details

The magic of parade night, with sparkling lights the floats pass beneath the Mitchell arch on Mechanics Row -

While formal masquerade balls have given way to a more relaxed atmosphere, and the horse drawn, torch lit carriages of yester year, evolved into elaborate hand crafted floats,  the spirit of Mardi Gras is well, in Galveston. It's pure magic standing along the parade route as these unique works of art slowly wander past.  The excitement of the parade, anticipation of catching a strand of beads, the surround of lively music, and a festive spirit, all combine to create an extraordinary experience.

Want to spend Mardi Gras on the island with us next year?  Go here  to plan your trip, and learn more about upcoming events.

Until next time, wishing you all the best -

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mardi Gras Décor

The island is slowly turning shades of purple, green, and gold.  People are walking with a bit lighter step, as the excitement of upcoming Mardi Gras fills the air.  I thought you'd like a island tour of a few homes dressed for the season. 

Here at Grey Dove Cottage, we are painting "Sybi".  It is a slow, act of love for her.  Putty, sanding, scrapping, she's getting quite the facelift.  Sybi is going all white, she'll look a bit like a wedding cake, with her walls, post, and railings subtly dressed in white.  With her facelift well underway, I kept Mardi Gras this year simplistic, and light hearted.  Next year, she'll have a larger costume, a more fitting dress for our Sybi.

Mesh ribbon paired with beads, and glass ornaments and a mask dress the rails.

The front door sunburst mirror features an embellished mask, mesh ribbon and peacock feathers.

I apologize for the grey skies, we've had lovely mild temperatures, yet grey skies, and fog.  Here on the island fog is a regular occurrence.  Often walking about our streets feels as though you are staring in a ghost mystery film!  The island is rich with Victorian architecture.  To follow is a small sample of historic ladies who dot our little island, dressed in their Mardi Gras costumes;  

"Hunter", one of many tree sculptures on the island.  Hunter is special, his likeness and name pay tribute to the real Great Dane who calls 13th at Sealy home, he waits perched upon the fence for someone to through him some more beads!

The Grand Lady; Michael B. Menard house, graces 33rd street.  You may read more about this historical home by visiting the Galveston Historic Foundation here. Built in 1838, she is the oldest home on the island.  We attended a commemorative "bash" there Friday night.  It was too much fun!  There was tasty food, a New Orleans jazz band, a festive atmosphere, and wonderful friends -

A little party finery

The Hustlers Brass Band from NOLA

The Mitchell arch at the Tremont Hotel, waits patiently for her moment when the Knights of Momus parade in its finery, will pass beneath her. Good food, and spirts will flow upon Mechanic's Row.  Shouts of  "Hey Mister! Throw me some beads!" will fill the air.  I can hardly wait!  

Until next time, wishing you all the best -