GUEST POST: Friday Night is Pizza Night … Make Your Own, That Is!

My gorgeous and talented cousin, Cooking Cousin, was kind enough to share an AWESOME recipe for Grilled Flatbreads (complete with baking tips and pictures). I had only one thing to say in response…..GUEST POST!

Take it away, Cooking Cousin!

Friday Night is Pizza Night … Make Your Own, That Is!

When you try a recipe on a whim, you never know when it will become a staple. I was intrigued by Mark Bittman’s recipe for Grilled Lebanese Flatbreads
(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/01/dining/01mini.html), since we make zartar [a Lebanese savory spice mix used on flatbread] all the time at our house, but the dough takes forever to rise, knead, etc. This simple dough comes together easily, is very flexible, and turns around quickly.

Before we begin, you should know that I try to “whole-grain” any recipe I can get my hands on. This can be difficult when trying to substitute whole-wheat flour in for good old (unbleached) all-purpose, since the ww can be heavy and make for tough and leaden dough. I’ve substituted up to 1 cup ww to 2 cups ap in this recipe, but an even better solution is to use white whole-wheat flour. It’s recently become more widely available (used to find it at Whole Foods, but now can get it at ShopRite, perhaps your Shaws?). It’s actually a different species of wheat that remains whole-grain but has a finer texture. I’ve clogged grocery aisles checking and re-checking the nutrition facts, and it’s the equivalent of traditional whole-wheat flour in fiber and protein. Go figure! I’ve been able to completely substitute this in recipes so there’s no need to put all-purpose on my grocery list at all any more.

Another must-have for bakers who want to add wholesome fiber without a lot of recipe tweaking is flaxseed meal.

Unlike a grain such as wheat germ, which when added acts like a sponge to your wet ingredients and throws off your dry/liquid balance, the flaxseed meal seems almost completely neutral. I’ve added from 1 tbsp to 1/2 cup to recipes with no perceptible difference to the balance, but a wonderful taste and texture to the finished product.

So here’s my take on Bittman’s flatbreads:
Ingredients
3 cups flour (see diatribe above and use white whole-wheat or a combo of your choosing)
1/4 flaxseed meal (more or less to taste)
1 tbsp. yeast (yes, you read correctly. NOT one packet, NOT one tsp., one TABLEspoon).
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar

Stir or whisk together dry ingredients (flaxseed meal will get stuck in your sifter).

Next add a generous 1 cup warm water. Warning: never drink or use warm/hot water directly from the tap, it leaches all kinds of nasty elements out of your pipes. Gently nuke cold water in a Pyrex (25-30 seconds per cup), check to make sure it’s not too hot since that will kill your yeast, and add it to the flour mixture along with a couple (1-2) tbsp. olive oil. Mix it together with your grandmother’s wooden spoon. I said generous cup of water earlier because a mere cup is never enough for this recipe (it’s not the flaxseeds, I promise!), so I always end up adding a couple more tbsp. of water to get a sticky dough.

Cover the bowl and put it in a warm, draft-free place for about an hour, then plop it onto a floured surface and knead for 5-8 minutes. Cut the dough into 8 or so pieces, then roll each flat. You’ll need a bit of flour, but remember the goal is consistent thickness, shape isn’t really important.

If you’re an apartment dweller or live anywhere in the Northeast, then you don’t have easy access to a grill at this time of year. Never fear! You could probably put them on a cookie sheet and pop them in the oven for a few minutes, but we’ve had tremendous results on our electric griddle. Bittman’s recipe calls for brushing the flatbreads with oil, but we’ve found that unnecessary; they don’t stick at all. Cook them for a couple of minutes each side for softy, slightly doughy loaves, or longer if you like them crispy. (* come summer you can easily do these on the grill, oil optional *)

We do all the bread this way and set it aside. You can easily double this recipe and have them ready for the evening, then partake in “Make your own pizza Night” at whim.

Toppings:

For sauce we just spice up a can of whole, peeled tomatoes by lightly crushing them and draining off much of the liquid (so the bread doesn’t get soggy), then adding minced garlic/garlic powder, basil, oregano, salt, pepper.

Since this tradition lands on Friday nights for us, it becomes a clean out the fridge night, and we throw bits of leftovers together for toppings (see the pork tenderloin and gorgonzola pizza pictured).

Other great toppings that require no sauce and can go on singly or in combos include olives, feta, ricotta cheese, or our latest favorite, carmelized onions (cook ‘em long and slow with a little butter and they turn to sugar).

(Salad Sidebar: Cooking Cousin’s gorgeous daughter adding the finishing touches! Look divine!)


(Salad Sidebar: Cooking Cousin’s rockstar son, stirring the sauce. We’ll forgive his choice of t-shirt, THIS TIME, since that sauce looks delicious!)

If you’re making zartar, brush the bread with a touch of oil so the zartar sticks, or better yet make a paste of zartar, oil and lemon juice and spread it on.

Once breads are assembled, we slip them onto a pizza stone in the oven just long enough to heat and/or melt the cheese.

Leftovers last a day or two, so we usually double the recipe for the breads and make zartar with the extras to have for breakfast the next morning.

Thanks Cooking Cousin! Now, think I can get her to do a guest post on how to make zartar bread??

 

 

 

 

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Jen says:

    I never have been able to make pizza taste as good as it does from a pizza place…and usually I feel like it’s not the crust or the toppings, or the cheese, but the sauce. The key is the SAUCE. Do you have any hints for making good red-sauce for pizza? I mean, I’ve tried something simiilar to the sauce you reference above, and it’s just not making it…

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