Total: 4 hr 50 min(includes cooling and rising times)
Active: 1 hr 15 min
On Hanukkah, we eat food fried in oil to remember the miracle of a small amount of oil lasting for eight nights when the Jewish people were rededicating the Temple. What better way to celebrate than with an oil-rich olive potato focaccia decorated with a totally edible asparagus menorah?
For the focaccia: Peel and dice the potato into 1-inch pieces. Place in a medium stockpot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the potato pieces can be easily pierced with a knife, about 10 minutes.
Drain the potatoes, reserving 1 cup of the water. Let the water cool until it is warm to the touch (about 100 degrees F), about 10 minutes.
Mash the potatoes and measure 1 packed cup. You will probably have extra potatoes; I suggest adding some salt, butter and a dash of cream and eating them!
In a large heatproof mixing bowl, add the flour, reserved water, yeast and potatoes and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil and the salt and mix to combine.
Knead the dough on a clean surface while adding more flour (up to 1 1/2 cups) until your dough is soft and slightly tacky, 5 to 7 minutes. Add in the olives towards the end of kneading.
Drizzle a layer of oil in a large bowl and coat the dough in the oil on both sides. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
When the dough has doubled in size, add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil to a 12-inch round cast-iron skillet or a similar-sized heavy-bottomed pan to coat the pan. Spread the dough into the skillet so it covers the bottom. If it's bouncing back a lot, let the dough rest a few minutes and try again.
Cover and let rise in a warm place, about 1 hour. Alternatively, you can let it rise in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. If you refrigerate it, it won't rise as much. Bring it to room temperature before the next step.
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Use your fingers to make dimples in the dough and drizzle with more oil.
For the menorah: Remove the outer darkest layer of the onion and cut into 3 thin pieces that are 1 1/2 inches long to make up the menorah stand. Dice the rest of the onion layer into 1-centimeter pieces to make a decorative border around the edge of the dough.
Cut off one side of the red pepper, avoiding the seeds. Trim a 2-inch curved piece to be the very bottom of the menorah stand. Then trim 3 thin flatter pieces that are 1 1/2 inches long to make up the menorah stand. Dice the remaining piece of red pepper into nine 1/2-centimeter pieces to make the candle wicks that will be placed between the asparagus candles and the tomato flames.
Trim each piece of asparagus to fit the middle of the skillet, making sure 1 piece for the shamash (lighter candle) is slightly longer and the other 8 pieces are of equal length. Place the longer shamash piece on top of the dough in the center, then arrange the other 8 asparagus pieces in a row, spacing them out evenly on each side of the shamash. The shamash should be a little taller and the other asparagus pieces should be the same height.
Add the 9 diced red pepper pieces on top of the asparagus pieces to make the candle wicks. For the flames, slice the grape tomatoes in half lengthwise, remove all the seeds and place one of them cut-side down above each red pepper piece to make a flame (you'll have 1 grape tomato half left over).
For the base of the menorah, place a single row of olives below the asparagus, then alternate between the thin slices of red pepper and onion in the center to make the menorah stand. Place the 2-inch curved red pepper piece at the bottom of the stand, curving downward. Finally, make a decorative border by alternating between the remaining olives and diced onion around the edge of the dough.
Brush everything with oil and bake until very golden brown, about 30 minutes. When done, brush with even more oil and sprinkle with salt. Eat! Store leftovers tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and heat before serving.
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