Foods & Culinary

How to Make Delicious, Crunchy Focaccia Out of a Hudson Valley Mainstay

Since 2014, Talbott & Arding is a mainstay of the culinary scene in New York’s Hudson Valley. The Hudson-based store is run by Mona Talbott, a veteran chef and alum from Chez Panisse, and Kate Arding, a well-respected cheese expert, and is known in the area for its carefully selected products and dishes. Now, after seven years in business, they’re growing, reopening this July in a completely renovated 8,000-square-foot space two blocks from their original store. The new location will offer an expanded pastry program, a larger pantry and fresh pasta.

Talbott and Arding have built their business the way they want to be self-sufficient, offering quality additions – cheese, pastries, dairy products, olives – to home-made main courses as well as full take-away meals. Talbott sees her expansion as an opportunity to “become that one stop for great quality, like Dean & DeLuca in the Hudson Valley,” she says.

Her goal is to offer her customers everything they need for a perfect picnic or a nice meal at home. “We are constantly cooking the food we want to eat at home,” says Talbott. “We are restaurant quality, but not restaurant-fussy.” What this means has changed, however, as the demographics of the region have changed radically since the introduction of COVID. Hudson was recently synchronized the country’s No. 1 city for net migration since the pandemic began. “Lots of people now live here all year round. They work here, their kids go to school and they want to be at home to chat, ”says Talbott. “They go to the farmers’ market to buy produce and they come to us to buy cheeses, sausages and sometimes the more complicated starters that they don’t want to cook themselves.”

The Hudson Valley is full of incredible produce thanks to the area’s many farms and manufacturers. What Talbott and Arding lacked, however, was a constant supply of high-quality bread. So they started making their own.

Focaccia was a natural place to start, “because it’s easy and very quick,” says Talbott. “No kneading. Just mix, let go and bake. ”She was inspired by Caroline Fidanza, owner of the popular – and much missed – Saltie sandwich shop in Williamsburg, whose focaccia Talbott adored. “We started using her recipe, hardly changed it,” she explains. The Talbott & Arding team scaled the recipe to the thickness, resulting in a thinner bread ideal for grilled cheese (now a unique offering from Talbott & Arding) and also the perfect vehicle for simple, seasonal pizzas.

Talbott thinks the recipe is practically foolproof. “It gets really crispy,” she notes, adding that it’s important to allow enough time to rise so that the batter doubles completely, huge, bubbles. It is eaten perfectly fresh, says Talbott – but also “deliciously roasted again the next day”.

Focaccia pizza with green garlic, zucchini, ricotta salata and rocket salad recipe

Makes: One 18 x 13 inch pizza (8-10 slices)

Ingredients:

For the dough:

3 ¾ cups (570 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (16 grams) of kosher salt
1 teaspoon (3.5 grams) of active dry yeast
1 ¾ cup (402.5 grams) of warm water

For the pizza topping:

6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of flaky sea salt
4 slim stalks of green garlic, cut into thin rings (if not available, replace spring onions)
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced ​​(1½ cups)
1 teaspoon of Aleppo chilli flakes
¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
8 ounces ricotta salata, coarsely grated

For the rocket salad:

2 cups of rocket loosely packed
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt

Manual:

Make the dough:

Step 1: In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and yeast together thoroughly. Pour in the warm water (about 110 degrees) and use your hands to mix and fold the dough until all of the flour is incorporated. The dough will be sticky.

Step 2: Pour the dough into a plastic container and store covered in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to two days.

Make the pizza:

Step 1: When you’re ready to make your pizza, take the batter out of the refrigerator. Temper it at room temperature for about an hour.

Step 2: Use the olive oil to generously coat an 18 x 13 inch baking sheet. Put the focaccia batter in the pan and fold it over yourself. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 1½ to 2 hours until it has doubled. (Your walking time will vary depending on the climate and humidity.)

Step 3: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and switch on the fan, if available. If you have a baking stone or baking tray, place it in the center of the oven rack.

Step 4: Brush your palms with the olive oil that collects on the sides of the pan and gently squeeze, stretch, and flatten the dough around the edges. Use your fingertips to gently press in the batter. Scatter the flaky sea salt and ½ teaspoon of Aleppo pepper over it, then top the green garlic and zucchini slices and finally sprinkle the remaining ½ teaspoon of Aleppo pepper over it.

Step 5: Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Step 6: Using a large metal spatula, transfer the focaccia pizza from the baking sheet to a refrigerated shelf. Top with grated Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and ricotta salad.

Prepare the rocket salad:

Step 1: Season the rocket with lemon juice, olive oil and salt.

Step 2: Cut the focaccia pizza into 8 to 10 slices and garnish each slice with a handful of rocket salad.

Sara B. Franklin is a writer and professor of food studies at NYU. She lives in Kingston, New York with her twins, wild dogs, and a flock of chickens.
Mona Talbott is the head chef and co-owner of Talbott & Arding in Hudson, New York.
Louiie overcome is a chef, recipe developer, food photographer and stylist and lives in Las Vegas.
Recipe tested by Louiie Victa

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