I have put the word 'puffy' in the name of this recipe not only because it's a most lovely word, but also because this quick bread billows up beautifully in the oven, creating a salty golden crust enclosing little snappy sausages, fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil: perfect for a gang of hungry teens.
I like this recipe because frankly (ha ha), I adore pork sausages in every form. Also, it reminds me of those wonderful childhood comfort foods: Toad-in-the Hole (pork sausages baked in a Yorkshire-pudding batter), and Pigs in Blankets (see Jamie Oliver demonstrate this recipe here).
If you don't eat meat, or pork, omit the sausages and add a few imaginative ingredients: cubes of hard cheese, finely snipped anchovies, caramelised onions, oil-soaked sundried tomatoes, and so on.
For this to be a quick meal, you will need to buy a ball of fresh white bread dough from your local supermarket or bakery. Most supermarkets in South Africa that have in-house bakeries (Spar and Pick 'n Pay spring to mind) will sell you ready-to-bake dough, for a pittance, but you do need to ask at the counter for it. You can also buy dough from any commercial bakery. The dough for the dish photographed here cost me just R6 (that's less than a dollar).
Of course, if you have the energy, you can make the dough yourself: here's a recipe for a basic white bread dough.
Quick meal: Puffy 'Focaccia' with Sausages, Herbs, Garlic and Olive Oil
A ball (about 600 grams) of prepared white bread dough
12 pork cocktail sausages (chipolatas) or any similar cocktail sausage
2 t (10 ml) cooking oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
half a cup (125 ml ) good olive oil
5 sprigs of fresh rosemary, stripped from their stems and finely chopped, plus a few extra sprigs
5 sprigs of fresh oregano, finely chopped
5 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped from their stalks
2 'wheels' of feta cheese (about 200 grams)
flaky sea salt
freshly milled black pepper
Heat the oven to 200°C. Heat a frying pan over a brisk heat, add the cooking oil and the sausages, and cook for six to ten minutes, turning the sausages frequently, so that they are nicely browned on all sides (but still a little pink in the middle). While the sausages are browning, prepare the dough: using your fingers, rub a light film of oil all over a shallow baking tray or cookie sheet. Place the ball of dough on the sheet and gently press and stretch it out so that it covers the entire base of the cooking sheet. You will find that that dough tends to creep back a bit, but persevere with pushing and stretching until the base of the baking tray is evenly covered.
Using your bunched fingers, make deep indentations all over the dough. In a separate bowl, mix together the crushed garlic, olive oil and chopped herbs. Pour this mixture over the dough surface and use your fingers to poke and prod it into the indentations. Crumble the feta cheese into chunks and press into the dough surface. Remove the sausages from the pan, drain off any fat, and press them deep into the surface of the dough, randomly, or in strict lines, as you please. Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flaky sea salt and a showering of black pepper. Press in the remaining sprigs of rosemary.
Place in the hot oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until puffy, golden and cooked right through. Halfway through the baking time, open the oven door and press the sausages deep into the dough. Loosen the bottom of the bread with a metal spatula, slide onto a bread board and serve piping hot.
Serves 8, as a snack