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Focaccia

I decided to make focaccia for dinner at about 7pm on a very hot night in Chicago. Maybe not the best decision I have ever made. Three hours later we were both starving and very hot.  Luckily this focaccia was worth the wait. It is wonderful. We ate almost all of it in one sitting and I was truly sad to see it go.

This would be another great recipe for all of you yeast-phobes out there. The reward will outweigh any anxiety you might have over the process. Like all recipe with few ingredients, try to find the best. I used organic tomatoes from the farmers market and best quality olive oil. Try to buy olives from a reliable source and avoid supermarket cans. There seems to be such a range in quality of focaccia out in the world. From sort of soft, limp, flavorless breads to rich, crusted, and full of great taste. This definitely belongs to the latter.

I hope everyone is looking forward to the weekend as much as I am. It has been a long week and I need to enjoy these last weekends of summer. If you’re looking for a restaurant to try in Chicago I’d suggest: Urban Belly [1] or Xni-Pec [2]. Both very special and far enough away from the lake to avoid Air and Water Show madness!

Focaccia with Tomatoes and Olives (adapted from Saveur)

In a small bowl, combine yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1⁄4 cup water heated to 115˚. Let mixture sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, the remaining sugar, and salt in a large bowl; form a well in the center. Pour in yeast mixture, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 cup warm water; mix into a stiff mass. Transfer dough to a floured work surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and transfer to a bowl greased with 3 tablespoons oil; cover with plastic wrap and let rise until dough has about doubled in size, about 1 1⁄2 hours.

Heat oven to 475˚. Rub bottom and sides of a 13″ deep dish pizza pan or a 12″ cast-iron skillet with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Transfer dough to pan; flip to cover both sides in oil and flatten into the bottom of skillet with your fingertips. Cover skillet with a damp kitchen towel; set aside to let rise for 1 hour.

Gently press tomatoes and olives into dough and sprinkle with salt. Drizzle dough with remaining oil. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, 30–35 minutes. Transfer to a rack to let cool slightly. Enjoy!