April Vegetarian Meal Challenge : Flatbreads
In culinary school, the thing that most terrified me, and that I ended up falling the most in love with, was making bread. I'd never even made biscuits, unless you count adding milk to Bisquick mix. I had tried scones once, but it was a fail because I thought I could use 2% milk instead of cream.
Once you've made some bread from scratch, you'll see the pure magic of cooking and baking.
Today, yeast is a little hard to come by. So is flour, for that matter. But if you're not in the habit of baking bread, it's more likely you have flour in your pantry than yeast. And this post is all about cooking from your pantry with stuff you likely always have on hand.
And this post is about stretching yourself during these days of quarantine to make something new. For many of us, that's bread.
There are a bazillion kinds of bread you can make. It's a staple in so many cultures. But if you've ever given wistful thought to baking bread, other than quick breads, flatbreads are the place to begin.
What are flatbreads?
Flatbreads are breads that are rolled or pressed flat and then baked or grilled. At their most basic, they're made with 3 ingredients -- flour, water and salt. But a few are made with yeast, such as pita bread. Many include a fat, whether it be butter, oil or lard. Some include chemical leaveners such as baking powder or baking soda. I've also tried some that use yogurt in place of water, which are delicious.
Common flatbreads most people are familiar with are tortillas, pita bread and pizza. You've likely heard of na'an, focaccia, and piadina. My mom used to drive an hour to a Middle Eastern bakery to get freshly baked Syrian bread that I adored. But have you ever heard of hoggan, farl, and lepinja? In all, there are over 100 known flatbreads around the world!
Do you need any special equipment to make flatbreads?
No. You can purchase a cast iron tortilla press, if you want to, or a wooden one that works great for flour tortillas. But you don't really need to. All you need is:
medium or large mixing bowl
fork or wooden spoon
oven or skillet
There are a lot of tortilla recipes out there in the world. Some use baking powder, like mine, some don't. Most use some kind of fat, whether it be lard, butter or oil. But I've seen recipes without any of them. One thing, however, that they all have in common is that they're easy.
Click here for the recipe.
Rosemary Parmesan Country Flatbread
This is a classic flatbread of flour, water and salt that's simply flavored with finely grated Parmesan cheese and fresh rosemary. Instead of mixing olive oil into the dough, the recipe calls for lightly sprinkling it over the dough before baking it, and then serving the oil on the side for dunking.
I've done this with plain olive oil and rosemary flavored oil. To make some rosemary olive oil, I submerge a large sprig of rosemary, at least 2" long, in ½ cup oil overnight.
Click here for the recipe.
I first had farinata in a small town on the Ligurian coast of Italy, where it's a local specialty from Genoa down through the Cinque Terra region. This flatbread is made with chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour and is essentially a crepe with chickpea flour. This means there's no rolling at all.
You don't have to flavor it with the rosemary, but it's absolutely perfect IMHO when you do. I use both fresh rosemary and rosemary oil with this, and a little garlic. But I think oregano would work nicely too.
In Italy, it's typically served as an appetizer in a large round dish. Everyone pulls it apart with their fingers, eating it in bite-sized pieces as you can see in the small dish. When I serve it at parties, everyone wants to know what it is, and how they can make it at home.
Click here for the recipe
Now, get cooking, my friends! I want to see what you make!!!