Placing fresh flowers on a table, already set with linens, candles, flatware and glasses, visually brings a beautiful table setting to life; creating a certain mood which complements the dining experience from beginning to end. I’m not talking about elaborate floral masterpieces (leaving those to the experts), just simple floral displays arranged with what ever available flowers or herbs you might have in the garden or buying them instead.
A flower’s appeal is in its contradictions – so delicate in form yet strong in fragrance, so small in size yet big in beauty, so short in life yet long on effect.- Adabella Radici
Take for example Bougainvillea, a shrub that grows abundantly in Bahrain, I love its vibrant colorful papery flowers. Placed in small glass bottles or vases, Bougainvillea adds a wonderful splash of colour to a table setting and one that I am particularly fond of.
Adding Rosemary to a delicious Home-made Salted Caramel Focaccia is one way of enjoying this versatile culinary herb, but sometimes I use the green needle-like woody sprigs for simple floral displays, along with the perfumed frangipani and jasmine flowers. So simple, but visually very pretty. The more successful gardeners among us will have more flowers to choose from! Glass bottles or small vases with a single flower or small bouquet repeated down the center of a table can look quite stunning.
I am not in favour of vision blocking floral displays when seated at a table, they might look pretty impressive, but try having a conversation through one of them! Large floral displays are best suited to a buffet table setting. Here are a few other ideas for simple floral displays by a Pottery Barns floral stylist which I thought were very doable. So, whether it’s folding the napkins a certain way or placing pretty gift boxes at each place setting, whatever way you choose to set your table… don’t forget some flowers!
This is my second time to take part in the Fresh from the Oven Challenge and with such a delicious looking Salted Caramel Focaccia …… and not having made a sweet focaccia before, how could I resist. Euan suggested using fresh candied citrus peel (apple and other fruits could also be used) and luckily I had some candied orange peel that I had made some months back. No candied lemon peel and oo type flour though… but no worries, one can always try to improvise!
I always try to keep a few pots of fresh herbs growing in the garden throughout the year and rosemary being one of them manages to survive our searing hot summers! A combination of fresh rosemary, home-candied orange peel, fresh lemon zest (use a microplane grater for best results) and a few vanilla products from my store cupboard, I thought would work nicely with this recipe!
The original recipe and method of making the Salted Caramel Focaccia is found over at Euan’s blog Signor Biscotti who is hosting this months Fresh from the Oven Challenge. Some changes were made to the original recipe and are as follows:
- Not having type 00 flour, replaced with all-purpose flour
- Used vanilla infused sugar instead of castor sugar throughout the recipe
- Used vanilla infused olive oil instead of olive oil
- Used 75g of home-candied orange peel instead of the 100g of mixed peel
- Omitted the raisins
- Added the zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
- Used ordinary salted butter
- Used 3 teaspoons of freshly chopped rosemary, 2 for mixing in with the dough and 1 for sprinkling over the top before baking
After mixing the dough I found it was not as sticky as Euan described (possibly the flours used), but tossed it on a work surface and gave the dough a good work-out by hand, a very therapeutic process! I hope to try the french technique for kneading dough another time… interesting video to watch (link on Euan’s blog), my dough was definitely not as sticky as the one chef Paul worked on or should I say slapped around his work surface!
Incorporated the candied orange peel, lemon zest and rosemary into the dough, which was then placed into an oiled bowl and covered with some cling film. The dough took about one hour and forty minutes to double in size.
Used a baking stone with its own tray (lightly oiled) to shape the dough on. A swivel peeler enabled me to shave thin slices of cold salted butter directly over the dough, before sprinkling over the vanilla infused sugar and remaining fresh rosemary. Loosely covered with cling film, the tray with the dough was left for almost an hour to rise before dimpling and baking on top of the baking stone (pre-heated in the oven) for almost 20 minutes. The results… Fantastico… Delizioso pane appena sfornato... loved this recipe, it was so delicious with its crunchy sweet crust, using fresh candied orange peel made a big difference to the flavour and the touch of fresh rosemary was not overpowering. Will definitely make this focaccia again and will try using some candied lemon peel also, which I need to stock up on! Although most of the focaccia was eaten (some restraint was greatly needed) the same day… polished it off the next morning (I did share some) for breakfast and although the crunchy crust had dissolved, it was still enjoyed!