Serve warm squares of fake focaccia as a tasty starter with an antipasto assortment of meats, cheeses, olives, pickles, and whatever else you can find at the back of the fridge or pantry (hello, anchovies!). It will keep the troops happy while you get the main meal together. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
1/3 cup olive oil, divided
3 cups pancake mix
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes (if desired)
1 cup milk
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (see Tip)
1/2 tsp coarse or kosher salt
1/2 tsp dried rosemary (or more oregano)
Toppings (optional, see Tip)
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spoon out 2 tbsp of the olive oil into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and spread it over the bottom and sides.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the pancake mix, thyme, oregano, and hot pepper flakes. Add the milk and stir until it forms a thick, sticky dough. Knead it lightly by hand, right in the bowl, just until the dough holds together with no dry bits. If the dough seems too dry or doesn’t stick together well, you can add up to 2 tbsp additional milk to make it easier to work with.
3. Place the dough in the oiled baking dish and, using your fingers, press the dough into the pan in a more-or-less even layer. It will be a fairly thin layer—don’t worry. Just squish it in the pan as well as you can.
4. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining olive oil with the minced garlic. Brush this over the dough, then sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan, salt, and rosemary. Now’s the time to top the focaccia with any toppings you like.
5. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until puffed and lightly browned. Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.
TIP No Parmesan left? Don’t freak out. Use finely grated cheddar or any other firm cheese you’ve got.
TIP Top this focaccia with treats such as tomato, pitted olives, onions, thinly sliced cooked potato, a few sad arugula leaves, a slice of prosciutto, and grapes.