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Sandy’s Legendary Focaccia Sandwich

Hi there. This is Sarah, Eric’s wife. As a guest contributor here, I wanted to share a special recipe for Mother’s Day: Sandy’s Focaccia Sandwiches. Sandy was my Mom, and she passed away 21 years ago when I was finishing high school. I miss a lot of things about her, and these sandwiches are something that people still talk about to this day.

My mom was the kind of person that liked to love people through food. She was always eager to feed others, and loved having us kids around. These sandwiches were something that got requested a lot by my friends, and after my mom passed away, I would try to find the recipe so that I could continue the connection with her. I have many of my mom’s recipes, and make them for my family and friends, but this one I could never find. I have spent hours over the decades looking through her recipe binders, recipe cards, and searching the databases of the magazines she liked so much when I was young: Cooking Light, Martha Stewart, and Food and Wine. I googled and googled, but couldn’t find the recipe. Living with a guy who is not shy to experiment in the kitchen, and time on my hands with a pandemic, I decided I would try my best to recreate the famous sandwich. I also just miss my mom like crazy, so tasting these flavors again was something I knew I would make not just my stomach, but also my heart, full.

When my mom would make these sandwiches, she would use store bought focaccia bread, and you can too if you want. But making your own focaccia bread is pretty easy as long as you plan in advance, so give it a whirl. My husband loves fresh focaccia bread, and like my mom, I like to love through food. You can also use this focaccia bread recipe by itself and play around with the toppings, such as basil, oregano, sliced olives, or garlic. One thing I have definitely learned from my husband is that it is ok to experiment in the kitchen, and often times the results are delicious.

Focaccia Bread

  • 8" cake pan
  • 2 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup Warm Water
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil (extra virgin )
  • 1 tbsp. Rosemary (chopped)
  • 1 pinch Sea Salt (Flaky salt to season the top of the bread)
  • 1 1/4 tsp Yeast (Active Dry)
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, teaspoon of salt, and yeast. Add the warm water and stir to get a sticky dough.

  2. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24hours for best results.

  3. After the dough has chilled out, form it into a ball with your hands. Drizzle approximately 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the cake pan and rub it around to cover all the interior surfaces to coat.

  4. Place the dough ball in the center of the pan and cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap. Let it sit for 2 hours at room temperature, until the dough has risen and expanded to the edges of the pan.

  5. Towards the end of the rise time, preheat your oven to 450°f.

  6. Once the dough is ready, remove the plastic wrap, and drizzle the rest of the olive oil on top of the dough. Smoosh your fingers down into the dough all over, to give it the bread cute little dimples for that traditional focaccia look. Sprinkle the rosemary and a pinch or so of flakey sea salt on top.

  7. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until the bread has developed a beautiful golden-brown color.

Let the dough rest for at least 8hrs, but you will have better results by letting the dough rest overnight to allow the yeast to develop a nice airy light focaccia.  

dinner, Lunch
American, Italian
Focaccia Bread

To build the Focaccia Sandwich follow the recipe below:

Sandy’s Legendary Focaccia Sandwich

  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • 1 loaf Focaccia Bread (Rosemary Focaccia)
  • 8 oz. Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (sliced 1/4" rounds)
  • 1 cup Spinach (fresh)
  • 2 bulbs Shallots (peeled and sliced thin)
  • 6 cloves Garlic (minced (always follow your heart for how much garlic to use))
  • 1/4 cup + 2tbsp Olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 1 tsp. Basil (dried)
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  1. Oven should be pre-heated to 450° f.

  2. Place the mozzarella cheese in a bowl with the olive oil, basil, and pepper and allow it to marinate for about an hour.

  3. If following the steps to make your own focaccia, when the bread is near the end of the baking time, heat the remaining olive oil in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat (if using store bought focaccia add chopped rosemary on top before baking.

  4. Sauté the shallots and minced garlic in the pan until soft and slightly caramelized.

  5. Slice the focaccia bread in half horizontally (like a hamburger bun), then take the bowl with the marinated mozzarella and hold the cheese in place to strain the half the oil from the bowl over the inside of the sliced bread loaf.

  6. Layer the cheese, then onion mixture, then tomatoes, then spinach onto the bottom half of the bread, then cover with the top half.

  7. Drizzle the remaining marinating oil into the cast iron skillet, place the sandwich in the skillet, and stick the whole pan back into the oven for approximately 10minutes to melt the cheese.

  8. Slice into 4 sections and enjoy!

I hope you share this sandwich with people you love, and for those of you who knew my mom and this sandwich, I hope it brings back fond memories of my mom.

dinner, Lunch
American, Italian
Focaccia Bread, Sandwich

Delicate Miso Marinated Black Cod (Nobu Inspired)

Black cod isn’t a fish that I frequently see offered at most restaurants but it’s definitely one of my favorites. Usually I’ll find it served at sushi or Japanese restaurants. Typically, a grilled collar of black cod that is marinated and has a silky fatty, charred, delicious flavor.

If you’re not familiar with the fish or have never cooked it, it is one of the easier fish to cook. When you purchase it fileted from the store, all the bones are removed and it’s pretty much ready to prepare. Always give it a once over to check the freshness or any parts you want to trim.

I got the idea of this recipe from the one made famous by Nobu, but I just used what I had available in the kitchen. I didn’t have mirin or sake and I only marinated the fish for 1 day. If you have the time and the patience, it will develop a deeper seasoned flavor if you allow it to marinate 2-3 days. Even though mine was only marinated for 1 day, I was still happy with the results.

Another preparation I did differently is that I grilled the fish. This helped add another layer of flavor from the smokey grill but I wasn’t able to achieve the caramelization if I had seared it in a pan. I grilled it skin side down first because it’s easier to manage. This did give it a nice crispy skin, but not as much color as I would have liked. I think next time I’ll use a pan on a hot grill so I get the best of both worlds and get a nice caramelization on the flesh.

Accompanied to the fish, I made some grilled veggies which added an additional smokey flavor that paired well. I used red bell peppers, swiss chard, radish greens, yellow and green onions. These were gifted from a friend’s garden nearby so it was a good opportunity to use them. We also had some leftover quinoa that we had available from meal prepping. White rice, soba noodle or most Japanese traditional sides would go well with the fish obviously, I just chose to use what I had available. For a garnish I made a quick pickled radish with Thai chili. It added a nice pop of acid and spice to the dish.

I tossed the grilled veggies in a miso dressing before piling on top of the quinoa. The black cod was placed flesh side up and garnished with the spicy pickled radish.


Miso Marinated Black Cod (Nobu Inspired)

  • 1/2 Lb. Black Cod Filet
  • 1/4 cp. Shaoxing Rice Wine
  • 1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 4 Tbsp. White Miso Paste
  • 1 Tbsp. Sugar
  1. Mix miso, soy sauce, Shaoxing and sugar until well combined.

  2. Pour mixed marinade into a storage container (Tupperware etc.) and coat the black cod with the marinade. Lay the black cod flesh side down.

  3. Store the black cod in the fridge 1-3 days. At least marinade for one day overnight minimum.

  4. When ready, remove some of the excess marinade off the black cod before grilling. Start on a med-high grill with skin side down.

  5. Carefully remove the cod from the grill when cooked through and serve immediately.

If you are uncomfortable with cooking fish on a grill, this recipe works well in a sauté pan as well. 

Try not to move the fish around on the grill. Let it sear nicely and it will remove easily from the grates. You should not need to flip or cook the fish flesh side down on the grill. 

Finished Tyrosalata

Addictive Tyrosalata – Feta Cheese Spread

This recipe is based on one from a Mediterranean restaurant I worked at. It was known as one of their “spreads”. For example, they offered a plate with baba ganouj, hummus, tzatziki and tyrosalata known as the spread plate. You could order it as an appetizer to share and each one was also available ala carte.

Next to hummus, tyrosalata is my favorite spread. I haven’t come across this recipe at any other restaurants. I have seen some spicier variations of this recipe online. Adding a little heat or spice to this would be great, but I like this recipe as the way I remember it.

I did tweak the ingredients by adding garlic, because garlic is life. You only need Feta Cheese, Green Onions, and Olive Oil for the original recipe. The fresh imported sheep’s milk feta I bought was almost too good on it’s own for this recipe, but I had my heart on making tyrosalata so I used it anyway. You can probably find a cheaper feta that works just as well, but make sure to use block and not crumbled. I prefer it to have a chunky texture with little bites of feta, the crumbled will be too smooth. Serve it with pita bread and veggies and try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting. Enjoy.



Feta Cheese and Green Onion Spread

  • Food Processor
  • 1/2 Lb. Feta Cheese (Block (not crumbled))
  • 3 each Green Onions (Chopped)
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil (Extra Virgin )
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper
  1. Add garlic to the bottom of a food processor.

  2. Crumble the block of feta cheese, add green onions, olive oil and 2 tbsp of the feta cheese water. Season with black pepper.

  3. Pulse Several times until all ingredients arecombined. Make sure to open and scrape down the sides of the processor toensure everything is mixed well.

  4. Serve with warmed or toasted pita bread and cold veggies to dip.

Add additional black pepper if desired. 

Try spreading the tyrosalata in a pita sandwich and toast until warm like a delicious grilled cheese.

Appetizer, Side Dish
Dip, Feta Cheese, Green Onions, Spread

Quick and Easy Chana Masala

I believe the first time I tried Chana Masala was from the frozen stuff you can get at Trader Joe’s. That’s how well traveled and cultured I am. Don’t get me wrong, I love Indian food and have several favorite local restaurants. However, I probably have only ordered it from restaurants a couple times. Usually because it’s food that’s meant to be shared and sometimes hard to talk others into ordering it.

Indian cuisine is really good at creating extremely flavorful vegetarian dishes. It is a cuisine that I have not had a lot of experience cooking, but want to keep practicing. You have to respect the seasonings and cooking techniques used to get so much flavor in the dishes.

In this recipe I used Thai chilis because I have a ton of them, but traditionally I think serrano or a green chili is used. My goal always is to make dishes as traditional as possible. Sometimes I just forget certain ingredients when shopping and substitute what I have on hand. This rich tomato, chickpea, thick stew tastes amazing served with basmati rice or roti. It doesn’t need it, but I like to have a starch to go on the side. Basmati is my favorite choice. Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite dish is.


Chana Masala

  • 2 Tbsp Coconut oil
  • 1 Medium Yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 6-7 Cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 2 Tbsp Ginger root (peeled and minced)
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro (chopped)
  • 2 ea. Thai chilis (or Jalapeno or Serrano )
  • 1 tsp. Ground Turmeric
  • 1 tsp. Chili powder
  • 1 28 oz. Can Pureed Tomatoes (or Diced Tomatoes)
  • 2 15 oz. Can Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans (drained)
  • 1 Tbsp. Garam Masala
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Coconut sugar (or substitute Brown sugar)
  • 2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice (or more to taste)
  • 3 tsp. Salt (add more to taste)
  1. Rinse and start your basmati rice in a rice cooker if preferred. Follow your rice cookers instructions to prepare.

  2. Place a large pot on medium heat (I used a wok). Add oil, onion cumin and salt.

  3. Using a mortar and pestle or food processor, add garlic, ginger, cilantro, chilis and grind or pulse till combined. When ready, add to the pan with the onions and stir to combine.

  4. Add the tomato puree, garbanzo beans and season again with salt. If mixture is too thick, fill the tomato puree can with ¼ or ½ of the way with water and pour into pan. You want the final consistency to be a thick stew.

  5. Increase the heat if needed and continue to stir mixture occasionally on a low simmer. Continue to cook uncovered for 20 minutes or more.

  6. When the stew looks ready, taste for seasoning and adjust with salt if needed.

  7. Remove the pan from heat, add garam masala, lemon juice and sugar. Taste again and adjust with more lemon juice and season as needed.

  8. Divide the basmati rice into four different meal prep containers, then divide the Chana masala in the containers. Garnish with large chopped or torn cilantro. Enjoy.

This recipe is great for meal prep, but you can serve it anyway you like!

Hearty Sweet Potato, Bacon and Egg Skillet

This dish is like a veggie, bacon, Shakshuka. Or is a shakshuka already technically a veggie shakshuka, since basically it is eggs baked in spicy tomato sauce? Well now I’m just confusing myself with these stupid philosophical questions that I’m just making up. I am not one of those people who debates if a hot dog is a sandwich. Or calling hummus bean dip. If you classify foods like this it feels disrespectful to me.

One thing is for sure, this dish is way more filling than shakshuka. For example, you need to have some toast or dipping bread with shakshuka. This dish has enough carbs and protein that it stands up on its own. No sides needed.

Now that we got that out of the way, I cannot say enough good things about this dish. It has a healthy serving of veggies, but also has bacon and eggs so it doesn’t feel like health food. Life is about balance and this dish is it.

One suggestion I would give, is to make sure you have a large 12” skillet to make this Your skillet will fill up fast with all the veggies. Or cook your veggies in batches before adding the eggs and baking in the oven. Another option of course is to down size this recipe.


Hearty Sweet Potato, Bacon and Egg Skillet

This skillet or "hash" is a mix of sweet potatoes, veggies, bacon and eggs is so filling and delicious your family and friends will be impressed. You do not need perfect knife skills and just follow the steps in order and you will be happy with a meal that competes with any breakfast or brunch menu in any restaurant. I recommend adding your favorite hot sauce or giving a few fresh grinds of black pepper on the eggs before eating. This recipe makes quite a lot, but is great for left-overs or separate for meal prep.

  • 2-3 ea. Sweet Potato (Medium Diced)
  • 12 Oz. Thick-Cut Bacon (Cut into lardons)
  • 1 ea. Yellow Onion (Medium diced)
  • 2 ea. Zucchini (Medium diced)
  • 1 ea. Red Bell Pepper (Medium diced)
  • 6-7 ea. Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Salt (More to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp Black Pepper (More to taste)
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 400° and set your cast iron skillet on medium heat.

  2. Cut bacon into 1-inch pieces and begin to cook on medium heat in a large skillet. Once the bacon is crisp, scoop from the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towel to cool. Leave bacon fat in the pan.

  3. Using the remaining bacon fat in the pan, begin to fry sweet potatoes, once potatoes begin to brown, add onions, then bell pepper then zucchini. Season everything with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until all veggies are just fork-tender then return cooked bacon to pan.

  4. With the back of a spoon, make little cups to cradle the whole eggs. Crack a raw whole egg into each of the cups you made and place the skillet in 400° oven. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until egg whites look set and cooked.

  5. Now this is the hard part.. Let the skillet cool for 5-10 minutes then scoop a serving into bowl with one whole egg each. Crack additional black pepper over egg or add your favorite hot sauce if desired.

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