Focaccia with Potato, Grape Tomatoes, and Rosemary

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Focaccia di patata con pomodorini e rosmarino

This focaccia is moist and delicious. I like to serve it by itself or along with cheese and various types of salami. I learned how to make this from my best friend, Roberta. The unusual thing about this recipe is that it is made with potato. This is a common method used in Italy. The potato gives the focaccia the perfect texture…it is soft and moist and the crust has just the right amount of crispness. The focaccia also is a great alternative for making a sandwich.

Ingredients for focaccia:
1 – large Idaho potato (5 inches long)
1 – pkg. Active Dry Yeast
1 3/4 – cups warm water
1 – tbls. sugar
5 – cups all purpose flour
1 – tbls. salt
1/4 – cup extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for coating)

Toppings:
15 – grape tomatoes
1 – tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 – tsp. coarse sea salt
2 – tbls. extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
Scrub a large Idaho potato and place it in a pot of water to boil until a fork can be inserted into it easily, approximately 15 minutes. Remove from the boiling water and let cool completely. Peel the potato and mash with a potato masher or you can use a potato ricer if you have one.

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Take 1 3/4 cups warm water and add one package of Active Dry Yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar. Stir and let stand about 10 minutes while the yeast activates, and becomes bubbly.

After 10 minutes
After 10 minutes

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture.

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Using the dough hook of your mixer, mix the flour and yeast until semi-incorporated, about 1 minute. Next add the mashed potato, salt, and 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil.

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Continue mixing the dough for about 5 minutes.

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The dough will be a little sticky. Turn it out on to a lightly floured board.img_1339

Continue kneading by hand about one minute more until the dough is soft and elastic.

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It should be slightly sticky, do not over work the dough. Pour a little olive oil in the mixing bowl and return the ball of dough to the bowl.

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Drizzle a little oil on top of the dough, cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and let rise for about 2 hours in a warm area. The dough should double in size.

Doubled in size
Doubled in size

Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out on to a lightly floured board and knead by hand for about one minute. The dough should feel smooth and silky.

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After kneading by hand

Pour 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil on a jelly roll pan (12″ x 17″) and spread around to cover the surface. Place the dough on the pan and stretch with your hands to fill the pan with the dough. It does not have to fill the pan completely. Using your fingers, poke holes in the dough.

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Drizzle a little oil over top and spread it around with your hands. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for another hour until it doubles in size.

Doubled in size
Doubled in size

While the dough is rising, slice in half about 15 grape tomatoes, and chop about 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, but first remove the needles from the stem. Set aside until the dough is ready to go into the oven.

Once the dough has doubled in size, place the tomato halves cut side down on the surface of the dough. Press them in gently. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil over the top and spread it evenly with your hand. Then sprinkle the rosemary and salt evenly over the surface.

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If you do not like rosemary or tomatoes, you can use almost anything you like, such as onion, olives, peppers, and various herbs and spices.  Be as creative as you like.

Bake in a preheated 425° oven for 25-30 minutes, until the focaccia is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and slide the focaccia out of the pan onto a cooling rack.  Let rest about 10 minutes before slicing so that you do not release all the steam.

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Buon appetito!




Garlic Mashed Potatoes

img_1086Mashed potatoes go great with many dishes. The creamy, buttery texture of the potatoes is the perfect comfort food. The little extra effort you need to make homemade mashed potatoes is well worth it. This recipe adds flavorful garlic and olive oil to make the potatoes extra special.

Ingredients:
4 – large Idaho potatoes
8 – cloves garlic
1/3 – cup whole milk (heated)
5 – tbls. unsalted butter
4 – tbls. extra virgin olive oil
2 – tsp. salt

Directions:
Fill a medium sized pot with water and bring it to a boil. Peel the potatoes, rinse them in cold water and then quarter them. When the water begin to boil, add 1 teaspoon salt and the potatoes. Put the lid on the pot and bring it back to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the flame to medium-low and let cook at a light boil for about 10-12 minutes or until a fork goes through the potato pieces with ease.

In the meantime, peel the garlic and smash it with the side of a large kitchen knife. Pour extra virgin olive oil in a small skillet and add the garlic. Sauté on a medium-low flame turning often to ensure it does not burn. After the garlic begins to soften, smash each piece with a fork to release all the flavor into the oil. Cook another minute or two. Turn off the heat and remove the garlic pieces from the oil. Set aside until the potatoes are ready.

When the potatoes are cooked, drain them in a collander. Return them to the pot and add the butter, 1 teaspoon salt (more if you prefer), and mash with a potato masher or you can also use a hand mixer. Add the warm milk to the potatoes and continue mashing. Pour the garlic olive oil into the mashed potatoes. Mix well until smooth and creamy.

Serve immediately.

Makes 4-6 servings