Cracked Pepper Foccacia

Easy and tasty.

2 cups lukewarm water (85°F to 95°F)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (for do-ahead version) or quick-rising dry yeast (for same-day version)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
4 3/4 cups (about) bread flour

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

Stir 2 cups lukewarm water and yeast in large bowl to blend. Mix in olive oil, cracked pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt. Add 1 cup flour. Using wood spoon, stir vigorously until well incorporated. Add enough of remaining 3 3/4 cups flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, to form dough that is soft, sticky and not completely smooth, stirring vigorously until well incorporated. Oil large bowl. Scrape dough into oiled bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. For do-ahead version: Chill dough overnight. Allow dough to come to room temperature in warm draft-free area before proceeding. For same-day version: Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes (do not punch down dough).

Lightly oil 15x10x1-inch baking sheet. Slide out dough onto prepared baking sheet (dough will be soft and will easily slide out onto sheet; do not punch down dough or knead dough). Gently pull and stretch dough so that dough almost covers baking sheet. Press fingertips all over top of dough to form indentations. Brush top of focaccia with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with thyme, rosemary and coarse salt. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm draft-free area until puffed, about 30 minutes for refrigerated dough and about 15 minutes for room-temperature dough.

Meanwhile, position rack in center of oven and preheat to 450°F. Bake focaccia until deep golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool.

Makes 1 large loaf.

Vanilla Sweet Potato Puree

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, cleaned and left a bit damp
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/3 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
kosher salt
white pepper in a millPreheat the oven to 350F. Put the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until tender to a fork tip, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool until warm enough to handle, 10 to 15 minutes. Peel and discard the skin. Put the potatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.

Meanwhile, pour the cream into a 2-quart pot, add the vanilla bean and orange zest, if using, and set it over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Use tongs to fish out and discard the vanilla bean. Pour the mixture over the potatoes in the processor and add the butter.

Puree the potato mixture until smooth. Season with salt and 4 grinds of pepper, or to taste. Keep covered and warm until ready to serve.

Serves four.