Getting everyone and everything ready for the “back to school madness” can be daunting.
My boys have already been back to school for 3 weeks and I am feeling the full effects of being back into a routine, filling out forms and writing out all of the checks… Some things never change.
However, there is one thing that has to change and that is adding a variety of options to my boys school lunches. When we lived in Japan, I used to make little Bento lunches with little onigiri, cute little eggs dressed up like cartoon characters and even fruit on skewers.
However, now that my boys are older and I think they might even get beat up if they try to bring in a little kiddie bento box to school. Sandwiches are a good option but the plain old “Garden Bread” from the Parknshop or from the bakeries in Hong Kong is sweet and is not what I would refer to as proper hearty bread. This calls for a quick divine lunch box intervention.
Whole wheat focaccia bread topped with olive oil, fresh basil, rosemary, garlic, sea salt, parmesan cheese and even olives is the perfect bread to make delicious grilled sandwiches in your indoor electric grill. The little dimples on the bread make the perfect little crevasse to hold all of the flavours and toppings. When you sink your teeth into this bread you can feel the little crispness on the outside and the chewy inside and the flavors of the toppings.
Last year we bought an off brand indoor electric grill that came with 3 different exchangeable plates. One is for making waffles, one flat-iron and our favorite the grill plate. This whole wheat focaccia recipe by Marta Rose Shulman from the New York Times is brilliant. I think it has the perfect mix of whole wheat to white flour ratio and it makes a slightly thicker focaccia bread which is perfect for making grilled sandwiches. I added some Herbs de Provence directly into the bread mix. This whole wheat focaccia bread is flavourful, not just on the top, but through and through.
In the morning before school, I slice the focaccia bread lengthwise in half and add some of their favorite fillings like grilled chicken, or ham and cheese and place in the indoor grill plate for about 2 minutes. The sandwich has beautiful grill marks, the cheese is melted and it is toasty hot. I wrap the sandwiches in aluminium foil and send the lunches off with some fruit, sliced veggies and the boys are good to go.
I don’t know if the sandwiches actually make it all the way until lunch time before they are devoured, but I know they must love them all that comes back him is an empty lunch sack with a ball of aluminium foil. These little toasted sandwiches are very similar to a panini.
In addition to this whole wheat focaccia bread being the perfect size for making grilled sandwiches, it is also delicious straight out of the oven. This whole wheat focaccia bread is a perfect accompaniment to so many different dishes such as salads, Italian dishes, and soups. My youngest boy has already brought home the first cold of the year. I told him to stop kissing all those cute little girls in his class but he must have not listened, so I made a big pot of my http://bamskitchen.com/dietary-restrictions/glutenfree/bams-chicken-and-rice-soup-cures-what-ails-you/ to go along with this delicious focaccia.
I made the bread and split into different flavored areas. My boys love the olive oil, sea salt and fresh basil toppings. Mr. Anonymous loves Mediterranean flavours so made a little mini area on the focaccia with some delicious olives and garlic for him to taste as well.
This recipe will not be hitting the diabetic friendly section in Bam’s Kitchen Archives. You will need to keep this one hidden from plain view, so I want to let you know that this bread also freezes very well. If you happen to have any leftover bread, this whole wheat focaccia makes fantastic croutons. I cut mine up very thin and then brushed with a little olive oil and garlic and then baked for about 8-10 minutes for a delightful topping to any salad or soup.
I love dipping my bread into herbed olive oil. In a small bowl or plate, pour a little olive oil to cover the bottom, chop up some fresh herbs (like rosemary) or throw in a little herbs de Provence, fresh grated pepper and grated parmesan cheese and dip in your bread. I promise you will forget all about that boring butter.
Whole wheat focaccia bread topped with olive oil, fresh basil, rosemary, garlic, sea salt, parmesan cheese and even olives is the perfect bread to make delicious grilled sandwiches in your indoor electric grill.
- yeast - 1 package dry ( about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
- sugar - 1 teaspoon
- water - 1.5 cups warm (about 95-110 degrees F)
- olive oil - 2 tablespoons
- whole wheat flour - 2 cups
- white flour - 1 and 3/4 cups flour -all purpose unbleached (and a little extra for kneading)
- salt - 1 and 3/4 teaspoons
- herbs de Provence - 1 tablespoon
- olive oil - 2 tablespoons
- sea salt - to taste to sprinkle on top
- basil leaves - handful of fresh leaves ( or rosemary, thyme, roasted garlic or any herbs your little heart desires)-optional
- olives - kalmata, green with pimentos, or whatever you have on hand-optional
- parmesan cheese - 1/2 cup grated-optional
Step 1: In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water. Wait for a bout 5 minutes until the yeast has time to start bubbling away. In a large bowl, combine the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt and Herbs de Provence and mix together. Add olive oil to the flour mixture and slowly add the yeast mixture into the flour mixture a little at a time until the dough comes together. I do not have one of those fancy dough mixers so just used a fork and then my hands to get the dough to come together and it worked just fine. The dough should eventually form a ball and it will be slightly sticky. If too sticky add a little more all purpose white flour. The dough should not be stiff.
Step 2: Knead the dough on a floured surface for just about a minute and shape it into a ball. Clean, dry and grease your bowl and put the dough ball into the bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap for about 1.5-2 hours until doubled in size. (Bread loves to rise in a warm place so I usually turn on my oven and get it to temperature (about 190 degrees Celsius and then crack open the oven just a tad and turn off the oven, your bread might rise a little faster this way)
Step 3: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C).
Step 4: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with olive oil. Place the dough ball in the centre of the baking pan and press it out with your fingers until you shape it into a rectangle. Give it some time, because of the gluten in the bread, it wants to constrict. Slowly press down and out and eventually the dough will relax enough and take the shape of the pan. (My boys loved helping out with this part of the bread making process as it is quite fun and they love working dough with their hands) Cover with a damp tea cloth and let rest for 30 minutes.
Step 5: Now comes the fun part. Lather your hands with extra olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) and rub over the top of the bread. Now using the tip of your fingers press down firmly and dimple the bread so that you get all those lovely nooks and crannies in the bread. Use your favourite toppings such as sea salt, fresh herbs such as basil, olives, parmesan cheese and sprinkle on top of your bread. (As my teenagers as not entirely fond of olives, I made little sections with different toppings to suit the likes of each of my picky teenagers.)
Step 6: Bake for about 25 minutes or until a deep golden brown. Serve warm with your favourite meals. Or you can allow the bread to cool completely and cut into large squares and then slice down through the centre of the bread and fill you with your favourite sandwich fixings and make yourself or your kids a great panini sandwich for their school lunches.