Happy New Year! And what a year it was. If you take a little look-see at my posts, you’ll see that apart from a sprinkling last March, I didn’t post a darn thing. I wasn’t feeling well and food was not my friend. Happily, my life is a lot brighter and healthier now and I am raring to go and share good food ideas with all of you. It’s amazing how we take all the little things for granted and how much we appreciate them once they are back. Bring it on, 2016!
This year, in honor of my mom, I am going to pull recipes from a different cookbook every month. My mom loved trying different foods, cuisines, and recipes. My dad and I once marveled at how she only repeated one recipe a few times. That meant that she cooked thousands of different meals for us in her lifetime. She would take recipes from magazines, newspapers, cook books, and cooking shows. She always kept things interesting and really helped encourage my brother and me to not only eat a variety of foods, but conquer different cuisines in the kitchen.
When I woke up this morning, I had a long list of errands to run, including a shopping list for the store to get what I needed for today’s recipe. I threw back the living room curtain and there it was: snow. Don’t get me wrong, I love snow. I love skiing in it and standing in it and watching it quietly drift down out of the sky, but I don’t like driving in it. If I were the only person out there, it would be one thing, but people are CRAZY and obviously need to play more Pole Position to prep themselves for defensive driving. Sadly, I went back to the cookbook I had chosen and scoured it for a recipe where I had all the ingredients in hand.
Hello Easy Oven Flatbread!
My pal gave me Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cook Book last month. I read it end to end… twice. I wasn’t able to eat much for the last few months and even though I had 5 REALLY great books sitting on my bedside table that I had been eager to read, this was the only one I found myself reading before I went to sleep at night. I started tagging all the recipes that I wanted to try. This cook book is all about upping the veggies and being more responsible when it came to eating certain foods (or not eating certain foods), but that’s not why I like it so much. Bittman just cooks really great tasting dishes and I like that he doesn’t limit himself to one specific cuisine. And if the recipe is lacking something I want in it (like bacon or meat…or bacon) I’ll just add it back in, no problem.
The Easy Whole Wheat Flatbread (which you will see that I used all-purpose bleached flour, because that is all I had while quarantined in my house due to snow and ice) was super easy and multi-functional. You can make it and eat it straight out of the oven, or you could add any one of the add-in options and change up the flavor profile to match your mood or your meal, or you could bake it and then put toppings on it and bake it again and you have an extremely flavorful pizza. It also seemed like something I could whip up at a party and impress all of my friends. Flatbread Friends. It would be my new posse.
I took a small bowl, put the flour and salt in it, began to pour in the water and whisked it until I got to the consistency of thin pancake batter. I threw a clean towel over it and walked away for a couple of hours…. because I could, and because I didn’t feel like cooking anything at that moment. Also, Bittman noted that you could use the batter immediately or use it in 12 hours and you would like the results either way.
When I finally decided to make up my dinner, I turned on the oven to 400 degrees and began my prep work. I went with the standard recipe and follow Bittman’s suggestion of adding 1/2 an onion. I cut a yellow onion in half and sliced it very thinly. I didn’t have any fresh rosemary (which reminds me, I need to grow some rosemary), so I decided to use cumin instead. I thought it would be tasty with the onion.
As soon as my oven was nice and toasty, I poured 2 tablespoons of olive oil in my cast iron skillet and placed the skillet in the oven. A few minutes later, once the oil started to get hot, I pulled the skillet out and threw the onions and cumin in, stirred them up and poured the batter over the whole thing. I gave the pan a little swirl to distribute the oil around and put the whole thing back in the oven for 45 minutes or so.
I waited until it looked golden brown on the edges, but decided that I should have left it in a bit longer. I was worried that I would burn it, but looking back, I think everything would have been perfect if I had waited a couple more minutes. Ever the impatient baker… BUT it was still super delicious. And the most amazing thing was the onion! It didn’t even taste of onion, after putting all that onion in it! It was super mellow and deeply flavorful and I decided that even though it made a tasty flatbread, a lovely addition to any meal, I should have then added sauce and cheese and some veggies and toppings, thrown it back under the broiler and had the best pizza ever made in my kitchen! Sadly, I realized this after I had sliced it all up.
Some additional ideas for add-ins: Cumin, garam masala, or curry powder, up to 2 teaspoons, add after the oil is hot. Chopped scallions, up to 1 cup, add after the oil is hot. Grated or minced ginger (or try crystallized ginger), up to 2 tablespoons, add after the oil is hot. Grated citrus zest, up to 2 tablespoons, mixed directly into the batter while whisking. Honey or maple syrup, up to 1/4 cup, mixed directly into the batter while whisking. Seeds: shredded, unsweetened coconut; or chopped nuts, up to 1/2 cup, add after the oil is hot. Soy sauce, in place of up to 1/4 cup of the water, mixed directly into the batter while whisking.
I feel very hopeful for the New Year. I’m excited about all the possibilities it holds. I wish for you all the happiness and joy you can muster, and then some. I hope that you try something new, whether it is changing an old routine, eating at a new restaurant, building something by learning how-to from YouTube, or assuming the best in people when it can be so easy to assume the worst. Maybe just try a new recipe….once a month…and surprise yourself with how good it is.
Happy New Year! Happy New You!
Easy Oven Flatbread
- 1 to 1 1/4 c. water
- 1 c. whole wheat flour, cornmeal, or chickpea flour, or a combo
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 to 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 large onion, halved and thinly sliced, optional
- 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves, optional
- Put the flour in a bowl and add the salt.
- Slowly add 1 1/4 cups water, whisking to eliminate lumps. The batter should be the consistency of thin pancake batter. If it’s not, whisk up to another 1/4 cup water into the mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time. Cover with a towel and let sit while the oven heats, or as long as 12 hours.
- When ready to bake, heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Put the oil in a 12-inch rimmed pizza pan or skillet and put in the heated oven. (Use 2 tbsp. oil if using a cast iron skillet, 3 tbsp. if using seasoned steel, and if using stainless steel, use all 4 tbsp.) Wait a couple minutes for the oil to get hot but not smoking; the oil is ready when you just start to smell it. Carefully remove the pan.
- Add the onion and rosemary if you’re using them and give them a little stir. (This is when you would add your optional/additional ingredients)
- Pour in the batter, gently swirl the pan to distribute the oil, and return the skillet to the oven.
- Bake until the flatbread is well browned, firm, and crisp around the edges, about 45 minutes. (It will release easily from the pan when it’s done.) Let it rest for a couple minutes before cutting it into wedges or squares.
- BONUS: Add sauce, cheese, and all your favorite toppings, throw under the broiler for 3-5 minutes and you’ve got the tastiest pizza around.