9.24.2016

Flatbreads

It seems most cultures have at least one version of a flatbread. A couple of weeks ago, I used lavash, an Armenian flatbread, to make a blue cheese and fig tart of sorts.

India has naan, roti, and dosas. Italy has focaccia, cecine, and farinata,  and Sardinia has pane carasau. France has crêpes and socca.

In Africa and the Middle East, we find injera (Ethiopia), fatir (Egypt), matzoh (Israel), and harcha (Morocco). Going north and eastward, we get gözleme in Turkey, pitas in Greece, and lavash in Armenia.

In the Americas, we have pretty much adopted all of the above, plus we have our own: good ol’ pancakes, maize tortillas from México, frybread from our Native American communities, and arepas from Colombia, to name a very few.

One of the problems is that we often think any flatbread will do for all occasions. But, somehow, a crêpe with Indian food just doesn't cut it. Nor does a tortilla work with crème de marrons topped with crème Chantilly. But if we are unable to find teff to make authentic injera, we might find that a crêpe will make do for your homemade Ethiopian meal.

The flatbreads I made today are based on a recipe from Mark Bittman in the New York Times. He calls them Lebanese, but I simply call them "good." He also said they are like naan. Yet they aren't Indian, and they aren't Lebanese. 

But they are good. We serve them with Indian food, because they are so much better than frozen naan. We serve them with anything we make that is Middle Eastern or even South-eastern European.

Last night we had them with an Indian curry, and we will used the leftovers today to make man'ousheh, a Lebanese specialty. The recipes for the bread and the man'ousheh follow.

Happy grilling!

~ David

Good Flatbreads
Based on the recipe by Mark Bittman, New York Times

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon rapid rise yeast
1 1/8 cup warm water (another 110-115°F)
3 cups all-purpose flour
extra virgin olive oil as needed

Whisk together the salt, sugar, yeast and water in a large bowl. Let the mixture sit until it begins to froth, about 5 minutes, then add the flour and mix until well combined. Cover and let rise somewhere uniformly warm for about an hour.

When the dough has puffed up, transfer it to a well-floured surface and knead until soft and silky, 3-5 minutes. Prepare a grill; the heat should be medium-high and the rack about 4 inches from the heat.

Cut the dough into 8 equally sized pieces and roll each one into a flattened disk; they need not look perfect, as it is the imperfections that allow them to bubble up so well. Roll each disk out until it’s about 6 inches in diameter, stacking them as you go. Brush one side of half the breads with olive oil and place on the grill, oiled side down. While the first side cooks, brush the upper side with more oil; when the breads begin to brown and puff up, flip them. When the second side is nicely browned, remove from the grill and place on a serving plate. Be attentive; it is easy to burn them. Repeat with the remaining four flatbreads. Serve immediately.

Makes 8.


Man'ousheh

4 partially cooked flatbreads (half of the above recipe)
1/2 cup za'atar (a spice mixture of sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place the flatbreads on a baking sheet. Mix the za'atar and oil to make a thick paste. Divide the paste evenly among the four flatbreads, and then spread it evenly over the breads leaving a 1/2-inch border all the way around. Bake for 10 minutes until sizzling and golden, and cut into 4 wedges.

Serves 4 as a light lunch or snack, although it is traditionally eaten at breakfast.

34 comments:

  1. I love making naan; I'll have to give this recipe a try!

    ReplyDelete
  2. David, I enjoyed flat bread with a salad at a restaurant recently and I was thinking I needed to try my hand at some. So happy to have a good recipe now. Wonderful post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I may have had the heat a bit high for the photo batch, but they are really good and super easy. Hope you enjoy, Marcelle!

      Delete
  3. I love the review of flat breads for each culture. And this Lebanese version does indeed look and sound GOOD! Love your title change. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Valentina, they are good flatbreads - why not call them what they are? :)

      Delete
  4. This looks fab - and those spoons are to die for

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Paola - Markipedia thinks I have a measuring spoon (and cup) addiction. He may be right...

      Delete
  5. The flatbread is so multicultural! GREG

    ReplyDelete
  6. There is nothing like the taste of homemade flatbreads, love how you dressed them up here. You can tell how perfectly they turned out by the bubbles on the grill. Love these David!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Cheri - and I have to say I love the charred bits. Some think they look overcooked, but that smoky flavor is wonderful!

      Delete
  7. Many thanks. It's goin' on the grill tonight, along with Asian-style flank steak and fresh zucchini.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Bob & Ursula - I am so glad to know you made them and liked them - your photo was perfect!

      Delete
  8. These look really good, David,and simply. I like Bob and Ursula's idea of Asian-style flank steak and zucchini on top!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan - Bob and Ursula reported back and said they were fantastic with the steak. Maybe we should all try it!

      Delete
  9. I love all the flatbreads I've tried, but haven't hit all the list on the ones you named. I love fried bread (pizze fritte) which doesn't get much attention in the US, but is so much better than the baked version! Have yet to try za'atar, but once again, sumac is on a list of items which are related to nuts so I can't have it around when my daughter is here. So many things to learn with allergies!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely try the za'atar when your daughter isn't around - such an earthy taste! I know the ones I listed were only the tip of the iceberg - but it's a start. Haven't had pizze fritte but will keep my eyes open for it!

      Delete
  10. I know from personal experience of at least one other culture that has "flatbrod." My Norwegian grandmother made giant ones on her wood burning cookstove. Later, people got electric "lefse" bakers for cooking "lefse" and "flatbrod." They are a bit different. Lefse has mashed potatoes in it and the flatbrod, as I remember it, had no potatoes and was mainly flour, sometimes rye flour, salt and minimal water. I don't remember if there was an leavening, probably not. The flatbrod was very large in diameter and when it was cooled it became crisp. One would break it into pieces to eat with lots of butter! The lefse was soft and round and cut into triangles and filled with butter, sugar or jam, or cheese, then rolled into a cigar shape. Some people think of lefse as a "Norwegian tortilla." I love it as a child when it was freshly made, of course!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Caterina - flatbrod and lefse sound great! They are added to my list of things I have to try. Pretty much, anything smeared with butter gets a high grade in my book!

      Delete
  11. I've done pita bread before--but what a masterful idea to grill these. I don't like to air condition so haven't baked anything bread-like in months. Need to remember this for next summer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Inger - we also use the grill to finish baking partially baked loaves of bread from Trader Joe. (When I am too lazy to make my own - or forgot to set a sponge in the morning). We love our grill!

      Delete
  12. David, oh, so you are grilling after all? Not too hot anymore - good, because your "Good Flatbread" looks picture perfect. I have read a lot of good comments about Mark Bittman´s recipes and some members of our French Fridays with Dorie group also swore by some of his recipes. We baked Flatbread in our Cottage Cooking Club group from a Whittingstall recipe and I enjoyed making that recipe - I should really make some flatbread for the family again soon.
    Herzliche Grüße aus dem sehr spätsommerlichen Bonn -das Wetter ist zur Zeit ein Träumchen.
    Hope you are feeling better!!! :)
    Andrea

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Halloo, Andrea. I have actually been grilling all summer - it keeps the kitchen cooler, yet doesn't stop me from baking pies and cakes! :) Thanks fro your thoughts - I am feeling much better!

      Delete
  13. David, I like all sorts of flatbreads but the only ones I make with any regularity are pits and flour tortillas. Was thinking I needed to make some roti or naan, but might just make this one first!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Roti and Naan are fun to make, and so good. Let me know if you find "the perfect recipe."

      Delete
  14. PS Meant to type pitas, but my fingernails are getting too long for typing! :D

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love making my own flatbreads, the smell is amazing. You've got some great charring lines on yours!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Caroline - I love the charred bits. Used to hate them as a kid, but now they are the best part!

      Delete
  16. We make a flat bread, too, and it's called pieda. Once you've tasted home-made, nothing bought in a store can compare. That's certainly the case here, David, and grilling them is such a great idea. Mark Bittman. Have you ever prepared a recipe of his that fell short? I've yet to come across one and I'm beginning to think there are none. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right, John, and I never thought if it - I have never had one of Mark Bittman's recipes fail on me! Curious about the pieda - a new flatbread to me, and will check it out!

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

If you would like to receive follow-up comments, simply click the "Subscribe by E-mail" link to the right of the "Publish" and "Preview" buttons.