Monday, February 23, 2009

One of the Best Things I Have Made

I love when people tell me I am a good cook. It is so nice to be complimented about something that is really important to me, and that is such a big part of who I am. I have to admit though, there is a part of me that feels not quite right taking the compliment. 90% of what I cook comes from recipes that others have written. Yes I found a good recipe, yes I actually cooked it, yes I put together a menu that worked well. But I didn't write the recipes. Is that a glimmer of over-achiever in me? I don't know, the over-achievers out there would have to let me know as I am certainly not one.

Last summer, while I was looking through a Food and Wine issue, this flatbread recipe jumped out at me. It seemed so different and I was intrigued by the play of salty and sweet. (I know that I've said I don't like those two tastes to mingle, but I think I was lying.) I showed the picture to Randy, told him what was in it, and he said it sounded weird. I told him I really thought it would be great. No, I didn't write the recipe, but I could tell a good one when I read it.

So, I made it and it was, without question, one of the best things I made in 2008. Everyone at the table
raved about it and all were sorry that there was not a sliver of it left. It was so good that I made it again the next week. Then I promptly misplaced the recipe and forgot about it. When I found it early last week, I knew I had to make it for a special group of women I invited over for dinner last night.

There is nothing hard about this recipe, but it does require last minute cooking - something I usually insist on
not doing for a party. Once it cools, it is still delicious but it loses some of its charm so I would suggest eating it right out the oven. The recipe tells you to use a pizza peel and stone, but if you don't have one, don't let that stop you from making it. You can just put in on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Your crust won't be as crisp but the flavors will still shine.

Rosemary Flatbread with Blue Cheese, Grapes, and Honey
Adapted from
Food and Wine
Makes one 13-inch flatbread

1 envelope active dry yeast

2 tbsp. sugar

2 cups bread flour

cup warm water
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

tsp. fine salt
tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound red grapes (1
1/2 cups)
Coarse sea salt

3 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (
1/2 cup)
1 tbsp. honey

1 tbsp. snipped chives

1. In a large bowl, whisk the yeast and sugar with
1/4 cup of the flour. Stir in 1/4 cup of the warm water and let stand until slightly foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the rosemary, fine salt, pepper, and the remaining 1 3/4 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of water; stir until a dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a draft-free spot until billowy and doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, place a pizza stone in the bottom of the oven, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Make sure the oven has preheated for at least 30 minutes.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle a little cornmeal on the pizza peel. Press and stretch the dough into a 13-inch round, then transfer the dough to the pizza peel. Make sure the dough is not stuck anywhere on the peel. Press the grapes into the dough and sprinkle with sea salt.

4. Slide the flatbread onto the hot stone and bake for 12 minutes, until the crust is golden and the grapes have begun to release some of their juices. Sprinkle the blue cheese on top and bake for about 2 minutes longer, until the cheese melts. Slide the flatbread onto a work surface and drizzle with honey and sprinkle with chives. Cut into wedges and serve.


Mara said...

Thank you for posting this. It really was outstanding, I will attest to that! I can't wait to make it myself. I don't have a large pizza stone, just two small ones, so thank you for including tips on how to make it on a regular pan. It really was surprising that the grapes went so well, I thought it was a bit strange looking when it went into the oven, I must admit. But it wouldn't have been the same without them. Now I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!

kickpleat said...

this looks so good! i love fruit with salty cheese, so i'm sure i'd love this :)

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Wow, how gorgeous is that?

Jennifer said...

I love rosemary, savory cheeses and fruit! What a lovely idea! Thanks for sharing!!

Chris said...

Oh man this looks fantastic! I am an ardent advocate for mixing flavors (definitely wasn't only a year ago) and this seems to fit that bill quite well.

I've read that Julia Child once said one should never insult their own cooking. That's not an invitation to be haughty, but if you don't tell them, your diners will never know that you might have folded the muffin batter too much or seasoned something too little. Give them the impression that you're a five-star cook and it'll taste that much better :)

lisaiscooking said...

This looks great! I think I have that recipe or one a lot like it in one of my stacks. Can't wait to try it.

Anonymous said...

It was one of the best as soon as you put rosemary next to bread.

Go you!

Olga said...

This makes so much sense!!!
Love the contrast of the sweet grapes with the salty cheese.
I actually made pork cabobs with grapes and it was a similar effect.

Sweet Charity said...

That recipe grabbed my attention too!
I totally love how the flavors work together, and have also tried a version with creamy chevre instead of the blue cheese (also yummy). Your pictures are great- better than the magazine!

veggie belly said...

I'm only now exploring the salty-sweet flavor combinations. I'm defenitely going to try this, it looks gorgeous.

I think finding a good recipe and making it well is in itself a difficult task. So you get 100% of the credit for this one :)

Julie said...

This is exactly the kind of recipe I love. I can't wait to try it.

finsmom said...

AMAZING! This look so tasty and fun! I love how original it is.

Thanks for sharing!

redmenace said...

What a fabulous combination. I love all the components. Thanks, Dana!

Andrea said...

You know Dana, no one invents cooking out of whole cloth (is that the saying?). I mean, everyone gets their recipes/ideas from somewhere. And you definitely have a unique style that you've developed yourself, you choose consistently healthy and delicious recipes with a focus on fresh food, you care about what you're doing and the people you're yea, that makes you a good cook. That, in fact, makes you a great cook. And combining grapes, honey and cheese, even if it wasn't your ides first (and really, whose idea was that first?) proves it!

Cakespy said...

Of course with a title like this you drew me in!! This looks so perfect. I've got to try it, so simple but it looks so good!

joy said...

So I have been dying to make this since you posted it and made it for a friend tonight, I think we ate the whole thing between the two of us!!

I would like to say that I made the bread from scratch but with two kids and husband out of town I wasn't up for it. I had some puff pastry in the freezer and decided to go for it and it was still delicious, so savory. I would still like to make the flatbread but in a pinch puff pastry worked and was a nice appetizer

sarah said...

Love your blog!

I agree, this recipe stood out to me and turned out great. My pictures aren't as good. If it makes you feel any better, you might be able to stand by your lack of enthusiasm for the sweet & salty combo (although I'm a big fan) because while the salt from the blue cheese was a nice addition, I think it was really the savory and sweet combination of rosemary and grapes that made me smile here :)