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Chef Jon Ashton Focaccia

Classic Favorites Reminiscent of Luxury Voyages to Italy

Like so many beloved treasures born in Italy, focaccia has roots dating back centuries, thought to be an early prototype for pizza from the Etruscans or Ancient Greeks. Since the 13th century, though, this yeast-leavened flatbread has been closely associated with Genoa, capital of the Ligurian region, where the variations on the classic Italian go-to (it’s eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in the area) can be found in virtually every bakery. The soft and pillow-y dough is traditionally topped with simple ingredients – tomatoes, sea salt, rosemary, olives – but like pizza, the possibilities are truly endless. You may have sampled several options and found your favorite during your Crystal journeys to Italy.

Fast forwarding the story of favorite Italian dishes to the late 19th century, the world was first introduced to Pizza Margherita. An unproven legend tells of Queen Margherita of Savoy commissioning something new, beyond the gourmet French cuisine that was trendy among royals then, from Naples’ most famous pizza maker. The result was allegedly this now favorite pizza of mozzarella, marinara sauce and fresh basil – coincidentally the colors of the Italian flag. What has been proven time and again is that this flavor combination never fails to please diners around the world.

And in this week’s episode of Sunday Cooking with Chef Jon Ashton, these two iconic Italian indulgences are the highlights of the menu. Check out the recipes below, gather your ingredients, and prepare to knead, fold, season, and roll to perfection this Sunday, July 19 on the Crystal Cruises Facebook page.

Tomato and Rosemary Focaccia
By Chef Jon Ashton


3 1/3 cups (415 g) bread flour    
2 teaspoons (10 g) instant yeast
1 tablespoon (13 g) rosemary, minced
3 cups (705 ml) water, room temperature
1/4 cup (2 oz. or 60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons (12 g) table salt
Olive oil spray


24 cherry tomatoes  
2 teaspoons (10 g) rosemary, minced
3/4 teaspoon (4 g) coarse sea salt, or 1-1/4 teaspoons (6 g) kosher salt


Whisk flour, yeast and rosemary together in large bowl. Add room-temperature water and oil and stir with spatula until dough forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes. Sprinkle salt over dough and mix until fully incorporated. Cover bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and let dough rest for 20 minutes. 

Using your wet hands or spatula sprayed with vegetable oil, fold dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees; fold again, rotate 90 degrees and fold again (total of four folds). Cover bowl with towel or plastic wrap and let dough rest for 20 minutes. Repeat folding technique another 3 times, letting the dough rest for 20 minutes each time.  

Add two tablespoons olive oil to a 13 by 9-inch (33 by 23 cm) baking pan and brush to coat all the inside of the pan. Transfer dough to prepared pan and gently press the dough towards corners. Spray or brush with olive oil and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.  

Remove from fridge 1 hour before baking. Dough should have doubled in height and be jiggly when shaken.  

Press tomatoes into dough and spray or brush top with a little olive oil. Top with rosemary and sea salt.  

Heat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Uncover and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until nicely browned. 

Serves 6-8 people  

Pizza Margherita Chef Jon Ashton
Pizza Margherita Chef Jon Ashton

Pizza Margherita 
By Chef Jon Ashton


1 portion individual pizza dough  
Generous 1/3 cup (100 g) tomato sauce 
3 fresh basil leaves, torn in half
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
½ cup (4 oz. or 115 g) fresh whole-milk mozzarella cheese


At least 45 minutes before baking pizza, put stone or pizza steel in preheated 500 degrees F (260 degrees C) oven. 

Put the sauce in the center of the stretched dough and use the back of a spoon to spread it evenly across the surface, stopping approximately 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) from the edges. 

Drizzle a little olive oil over the pizza dough. Break the cheese into large pieces and place these gently on top of the sauce. Scatter basil leaves over the top. 

Using a pizza peel, pick up the pie and slide it onto the heated stone or steel in the oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown, and the cheese is bubbling, approximately 4 to 8 minutes. 

Serves 1 

Pizza Dough  


3 1/2 cups (420 g) bread flour  
1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 g) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons (10 g) fine sea salt
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (60 ml) warm water (80°F to 85°F or 27°F to 29°C) 
1 teaspoon (5 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey
1 1/2 to 2 cups water (355 ml), plus more as needed


Place the flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the mixer running, pour the oil, honey and water in a steady stream. Continue to mix for 2 to 3 minutes. The finished dough should be soft, slightly sticky and elastic. If too dry, add a bit more water; if too wet, a tablespoon or so more flour. 

Move the dough to the work surface and cut the dough into halves or thirds. 

Makes 3 individual or 2 large pizzas  

Form the dough into balls and refrigerate for 24 -72 hours. 

Crystal’s Crystal@Home: A Virtual Cruise Experience program brings several elements of the renowned Crystal Experience directly to guests, wherever in the world they are. “Sunday Cooking with Chef Jon Ashton” represents the culinary excellence found aboard Crystal ships, as some of the greatest travel memories are created over the greatest meals.

Crystal invites travelers to book now and save with added peace of mind and flexibility as we look ahead to sailing together again.

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Posted on January 30, 2020