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How to Make Delicious, Crunchy Focaccia From a Hudson Valley Mainstay

Peak summer produce makes Talbott & Arding’s focaccia an all-star seasonal meal

A bird’s eye view of a focaccia pizza topped with arugula salad. The pizza is cut into square slices and sits on a wooden cutting board on a white marble surface. Next to it is a small white bowl of olive oil and a piece of parchment paper that holds a slice of pizza, a wedge of white cheese, half a lemon, and a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper. Louiie Victa

Since 2014, Talbott & Arding has been a mainstay of the culinary scene in New York’s Hudson Valley. Helmed by Mona Talbott, a veteran chef and Chez Panisse alum, and Kate Arding, a widely respected cheese expert, the Hudson-based shop is well-known in the region for its meticulously sourced products and prepared foods. Now, after seven years in business, they are growing: This July, they will reopen in a completely renovated 8,000-square-foot space two blocks from their original shop. The new location will feature an expanded pastry program, a larger pantry section, and fresh pasta.

Talbott and Arding built their business around the way they like to feed themselves, offering high-quality complements — cheese, pastries, dairy, olives — to home-cooked mains, as well as full takeaway meals. Talbott sees their expansion as an opportunity to become “that go-to spot for superb quality, like the Hudson Valley’s Dean & DeLuca,” she says.

Their goal, she explains, is to supply everything their customers need for a perfect picnic, or a beautiful at-home meal. “We continually cook the food we want to eat at home,” Talbott says. “We’re restaurant-quality, but not restaurant-fussy.” Yet what that means has changed as the demographics of the region have shifted radically since COVID took hold; Hudson was recently dubbed the No. 1 city in the nation for net migration since the pandemic began. “A lot of people are living here year-round now. They’re working here, their kids are in school, and they want to entertain at home,” Talbott says. “They go to the farmers market for produce, and they come to us for cheese, charcuterie, and sometimes the more complicated entrees they don’t want to cook themselves.”

The Hudson Valley is awash in incredible products, thanks to the region’s many farms and makers. But one thing Talbott and Arding found lacking was a consistent supply of high-quality breads. So, they started making their own.

Focaccia was a natural place to begin “because it’s easy and very quick,” Talbott says. “No knead. Just mix, proof, and bake.” She drew inspiration from Caroline Fidanza, proprietor of the much-beloved — and much-missed — Williamsburg sandwich shop Saltie, whose focaccia Talbott adored. “We started using their recipe, barely changing it,” she explains. The Talbott & Arding team scaled the recipe for thickness, resulting in a thinner bread ideal for grilled cheese (now a Talbott & Arding signature offering), and also the perfect vehicle for simple, seasonal pizzas.

Talbott considers the recipe virtually foolproof. “It gets really crunchy,” she notes, adding that it’s crucial to allow enough rising time for the dough to fully double in size, and that the proofed dough needs to be docked evenly before baking in order to achieve medium-sized, rather than enormous, bubbles. It’s perfect eaten fresh, Talbott says — but also “delicious re-toasted the following day.”

Focaccia Pizza with Green Garlic, Zucchini, Ricotta Salata, and Arugula Salad Recipe


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

Ingredients:

For the dough:

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

For the pizza toppings:

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt
4 slender stalks of green garlic, sliced into thin rounds (if unavailable, substitute green onions)
2 small zucchini, sliced into thin rounds (1½ cups)
1 teaspoon Aleppo chile flakes
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
8 ounces ricotta salata, coarsely grated

For the arugula salad:

2 cups loosely packed arugula
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt

Instructions:

Make the dough:

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

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

Make the pizza:

Step 1: When you are ready to make your pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Temper it for about an hour at room temperature.

Step 2: Use the olive oil to generously coat an 18-by-13-inch baking sheet. Transfer the focaccia dough to the pan and fold it over on itself. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 1½ to 2 hours, or until doubled in size. (Your rising time will vary depending on climate and humidity.)

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

Step 4: Coat your palms using the olive oil that pools in the sides of the pan, and gently press, stretching and flattening the dough to the edges. Use your fingertips to gently dimple the dough. Sprinkle the flaky sea salt and ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper across it, then top with the green garlic and zucchini slices, and finish by sprinkling the remaining ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper.

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 cooling rack. Top with grated Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and ricotta salata.

Make the arugula salad:

Step 1: Toss the arugula with the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt to taste.

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

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

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