Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A perfect pre-dinner nibble.

I was introduced to this recipe through Smitten Kitchen, a very favorite blog of mine. This flatbread is a wonderful combination of flavors: fresh thyme, nutty cheese, coarse sea salt, and sweet honey on a warm, crispy cracker. Better still, it's ridiculously simple to make.

Deb jokingly suggested to have this flatbread with your evening cheese course. But I realized that Jared and I often both return from a long day at campus ravenous and enjoy a little something before dinner. Like while waiting for the grill to heat up.

So you can cook grilled chicken paillards with sour orange sauce.

Standing in your yard, with cool August grass under your sandals.

While your dog gives you this weird look when you try to take her picture.

Sure, you'll have bit too much for two, but you can heat up the leftovers the next day in a hot oven. But just give them a couple of minutes or they get a bit too toasty. Not that I know from experience.

Honey, Thyme, and Sea Salt Flatbreads
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Note: I used Fleur de Sel sea salt, but any coarse salt will do. Also, Deb suggests a myriad of cheese suggestions and I went with Parmigiano Reggiano because that's the hard cheese I always have but you can certainly experiment here. However, the cheese is a really important flavor, so don't use that stuff in the green can. Not that I need to tell you that.

Makes 4 big flatbreads that can be broken down however you wish.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 honey
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Coarse salt (sea salt such as Maldon or Fleur de Sel preferred)

1. Place you pizza stone (or a baking sheet) on the middle oven rack and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the water and the oil gradually, mixing with a spoon or a spatula until the dough comes together. It will look like a shaggy mess, but it will be fine. Knead the dough gently for a minute or two; it should feel quite oily.

3. With a pastry blade, divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll out each piece on a sheet of parchment paper into an oblong shape about 12"x6". It should be pretty thin after you've rolled it out. The dough is a bit sticky but work through it. Your patience will be rewarded.

4. Slide both the dough and parchment paper onto the preheated baking sheet or stone, and bake about 6 minutes, until just golden. I could fit 2 at a time in my oven, which makes it go a bit quicker, but one at a time is just fine. Quickly sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese onto each piece. Bake an additional 3 to 4 minutes, until the edges and thin spots are just browned. Remove the flatbreads from the oven and drizzle each with honey, sprinkle with sea salt and garnish with thyme leaves. This is really a taste issue for how much of each you may like but my own advice is to not skimp on the honey and the salt. Cut each flatbread into 4 sections (or more, if you like...) width-wise with a sharp knife. Repeat with remaining dough. Serve warm.

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