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Flatbread and a Confession

(post, Katie Elberson)

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I have a lot of not-so-great habits.  Arguably, some of them have a toe over the line into bad habits, but hey – we can’t all be perfect.  One such habit is that I will consistently pick up whatever magazine/newspaper/pamphlet/letter is sitting in front of me.  Not so bad, you’re thinking to yourself, what’s so wrong about that? What’s so bad about that, people, is that these are frequently not my things to be touching.  That’s right, I pick these things up off of other people’s desks (yes, this includes my boss, and no, she hasn’t fired me yet), kitchen counters, end tables…you get the idea.  And sometimes people don’t like their mail read by anyone other than them.  Weird.

Boyfriend’s poor family, for instance, leaves their mail where I imagine about 90% of American families do – on their kitchen counter.  And without fail, whenever I go over there and we’re standing in his kitchen talking/eating/preparing to eat/thinking about what we want to eat/talking about eating/recovering from eating too much, I nonchalantly pick up his family’s mail.  It’s unbelievable.

I can’t tell you why I do it, and apparently I can’t stop.  But occasionally I get something good out of it, instead of just the guilt.  Take the night I was haphazardly flipping through the Gourmet they’d gotten delivered that day, openly salivating over the food porn on every page while I waited for Boyfriend to do God-knows-what, and his dad came in and asked if I was enjoying it.  I resisted the strong urge to shout “HELL YES IT’S GOURMET MAGAZINE” at him, and instead answered (in a more polite and socially-acceptable manner) that, yes, I was very much enjoying it.  His response?  “You should take it!  I actually have an entire cabinet full of them.  We didn’t subscribe and we don’t pay for it, they just started coming one day last year and no one reads them.”  And then he handed me, oh, I don’t know, 15 or so magazines, which is precisely when Boyfriend chose to reappear on the scene and stifle whatever comments breezed through his head about the look of pure elation on my face.  I’ve taught him well, yes?

So thus was bestowed upon me reading material for the several weeks, but I think I got a little overwhelmed and ahead of myself and focused too much on some issues (Um, the Christmas cookie one!?  The Italian food one, where they toured Venice and I read about it one week after actually being there!?) and not enough on others.  And it was, I think, because of the sheer volume of reading that I missed what really is a gem of a recipe.  But thanks to the Smitten Kitchen’s “Surprise Me!” button, I didn’t miss this flatbread recipe for long.

I love recipes that don’t require a special shopping trip.  Ones that don’t have to be picked out a week in advance and planned into your weekly shopping trip (which we all know I don’t do myself, living at home and all…).  Ones that don’t call for anything that isn’t already in your kitchen.  And when you find a recipe that comes together in 10 minutes, cooks in 10 more, and is infinitely adaptable and delicious…that, my friends, is called a keeper.


Gourmet, July 2008, found via the Smitten Kitchen and adapted by me

Deb made this with rosemary, as Gourmet originally intended, but I’m not a huge fan of rosemary, so I used red pepper flakes instead.  I also changed out a little more than half of the AP flour, but you could certainly use all white flour.  Start with just a couple pinches of red pepper flakes – if you think the first flatbread could use more pep, bump up the other two by sprinkling a little more on the top or kneading some extra into the dough for the second and third flatbreads. 

3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
Sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes – to taste

Preheat oven to 450°F with a heavy baking sheet on rack in middle.

Stir together flour, red pepper flakes, black pepper, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center, then add water and oil and gradually stir into flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead dough gently on a work surface 4 or 5 times.

Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll out 1 piece (keep remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap) on a sheet of parchment paper into a 10-inch round (shape can be rustic; dough should be thin).

Lightly brush top with additional oil and season with black pepper and (if desired) more red pepper flakes. Sprinkle with sea salt. Slide round (still on parchment) onto preheated baking sheet and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer flatbread (discard parchment) to a rack to cool, then make 2 more rounds (1 at a time) on fresh parchment (do not oil or salt until just before baking). Break into pieces.

Flatbread can be made 2 days ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature.