Everyday after school the boys bolt through the house to the kitchen in search of food. Their shoes are still on, the backpacks haphazardly tossed into the middle of the hallway, and they arrive with toques in hand and jackets only slightly undone. And everyday I ask them to at least remove their shoes and wash their hands before they stuff their face with food. The roll their eyes, retreat to the hallway, and begrudgingly strip themselves of their outside clothing before they devour whatever they can find in the fridge.
Not surprisingly, they often default to something sweet. We’ve all experienced the 3pm snack attack that hits hard in the middle of the afternoon, but when you pair those hunger pains with the ferocious appetites of tween/teen boys you’re left with a meal-sized snack that’s mostly made of empty calories and sugar.
Which is why I’m making flatbread.
Last weekend, I was invited to a lunch hosted by KitchenAid. Each invitee brought a guest, and as a group we cooked a feast with Canadian chef Lynn Crawford. While the entire meal was memorable, it was the flatbread that left a mark on me. I immediately thought of all the ways I could put my own twist on this delicious dish, when my friend Tess, who was my plus one, told me she made it for her boys for an after school nibble. I knew this was another stroke of brilliance in a long line of good ideas she has and committed to try it myself.
The next day I prepped the dough, which took five minutes, gave it less than an hour to rise, and slathered the rolled out pieces with pesto, prosciutto, and fresh mozzarella. It was baked and bubbling when the kids walked in the door and to say they were pleased would be a gross understatement.
I made the dough again and served it as an appetizer for a dinner with friends. And then again, only this time I brushed it with garlic oil and paired it with warm pizza sauce for dipping. And finally, the golden grilled pieces were given a spring makeover with mashed peas, salty Parmesan, crisp radish, and crumbled bacon. When it works well for the kids, I’m thrilled. But if I can distort the details just a little, and make something that’s dinner party worthy too, well, that’s even better. Friends, I think I may have just found your go-to appetizer for spring.
Flatbread Five Ways
Bread recipe adapted from Lynn Crawford
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Combine the flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. In a glass measuring cup, stir together the water, yeast and honey and let sit for 10 minutes, or until mixture is frothy.
Pour the yeast mixture into the flour; add the olive oil, and stir to combine. You should be left with a soft and smooth dough that's slightly sticky to the touch. If it seems a little dry, add a few more drops of water to achieve the desired texture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (alternatively, you can oil your grill pan and place it over medium heat).
Divide the dough into four equal portions. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough into long teardrop shapes, about 4-inches wide by 12-14-inches long and 1/4-inch thick. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
Cover the dough with desired toppings (see below for ideas) and bake for 10 minutes (grill for 2 minutes per side) or until the dough is puffed and the edges are golden brown.
Serves 4 - 6
- Cover dough with pesto, thinly sliced prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, and red pepper flakes and bake as per recipe instructions.
- Brush garlic oil (warm 2/3 cup olive oil, 1 minced shallot, 1 minced garlic clove, and 1 sprig fresh thyme in a pot set over medium-low heat for 10 minutes) over baked flatbread and top with goat cheese, baby kale, and heirloom baby tomatoes that have been tossed with a teaspoon of the garlic oil.
- Brush garlic oil over dough, bake as per recipe instructions, brush another layer of oil over top of the baked dough and serve with extra oil or warm marinara/pizza sauce for dipping.
- Cover dough with grated aged cheddar, cooked bacon or pancetta and caramelized onions; bake as per recipe instructions. Garnish with fresh arugula or baby kale.
- Bake dough as per recipe instructions. Smear sweet pea spread (pulverize fresh peas, parmesan, olive oil, salt, pepper and mint in food processor until smooth) over the dough; top with thinly sliced radishes, crumbled bacon, and feta cheese.