I’ve been thinking about flat bread lately because I’ve been thinking about hummus lately. It seems like such a simple task, but so far it has not been. But my search for flat bread lead me into a cookbook from which I have never cooked that has been perched happily on my shelf for ages. The following recipe is what I’ll call “heavily inspired” from a series of recipes in that cookbook.
A word on the cookbook. The Gathering of Friends, Volume II is not your typical book. I can’t quite get my head around it. It appears to be somewhat self published but it is quite pretty and in the vein of a well executed junior league cookbook. The really neat thing about it is that the recipes look fantastic and homey and comforting. I will be milling around in it for a while. Thanks to my sister-in-law Amy for putting it in front of me. Methinks some of the best cookbooks around are junior league, community, and small batch treasures because they haven’t edited out every last thing with Crisco.
Anyway, Mrs. Huxtable of The Gathering put together a flat bread with a dried fruit cream cheese spread that got my attention. I ended up with a different style of flatbread, a different way of doing the candied pecans, and a totally different take on the spread. So, shall we say that my recipe is a love child of Mrs. Huxtable and my mother-in-law, Cynthia, who makes this killer blue cheese dip of which I just cannot get enough. Or, shall we instead say, thanks for an inventive jumping off point…I’ll tell my friends about your book. There really are some simple and delicious recipes that are worth trying. And, I have an innate respect for any woman who will include a recipe for bacon wrapped tater tots in glossy paper cookbook showing it served with silver tongs, proving once again that it is all about the hospitality, the love and the flavor, not about the avant guard or trends invented by “foodies.”
Here goes. If you want this to be a throw down, last minute, yet very nice looking appetizer for a buffet or a group of friends, but some flat breads at the grocery store. If, like me, you are obsessed with how many shapes and forms flour, water and yeast can take, make it yourself. This bread is reminiscent of a salted, herbed plain pizza dough bread…just so you know what you are getting into here.
2 ¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup water
Kosher salt, thyme, oregano, rosemary, or whatever other herb you like…I used thyme
1 egg white mixed with a tablespoon of water
Mix the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Stir in the oil and water. Mix it with a spoon until you aren’t getting anywhere anymore and then flop it out onto a floured surface and knead it for 5 minutes. This dough comes together quickly and nicely and you will end up with a workable little ball. After kneading, add about a teaspoon of olive oil to a medium sized bowl and roll the dough in it until it is lightly coated (you don’t want it swimming in a puddle of oil, just lightly coated). Leave the ball in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow it to rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes. Then remove the ball back to the lightly floured surface, cut it in half and roll out each half into a 9 to 10 inch circle. Brush with a little more olive oil and the egg wash. Then sprinkle on your choice of herbs, salt, or even some parmesan cheese. Don’t be shy with the salt and herbs…it needs it. Bake at 425 degrees for about 13 minutes until the bread is nicely browned. I didn’t do the cheese because I didn’t want it to interfere with my blue cheese spread, but I bet it is wonderful.
1 cup of whole pecans, or pieces would be fine
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon usalted butter
Seasoning salt or kosher salt
In a medium saucepan, combine the pecans and sugar. Throw on the butter and stir. Once the butter melts things really begin to happen, so this is not a moment to call your mother or check your email. Once the sugar melts, allow the concoction to cook for a moment and make sure all of the pecans are well coated. Remove the pan from the heat. Pour them out onto a silicone baking sheet or perhaps parchment, or a durable porcelain plate. Sprinkle with salt or seasoning salt (I use Johnny’s). Once the pecans have dried, you can break them apart. Now sit about for a moment and eat half of them. Try to have a few left to top the wedges, OK.
4 ounces gorgonzola cheese
½ cup softened cream cheese
¼ cup dried cherries, chopped
Combine equal parts of gorgonzola (or blue or stilton) and softened cream cheese. I used about one half cup of cream cheese and four ounces of gorgonzola. Chop some dried cherries. Dried cranberries would also work. You can either mix them into the spread or use them to sprinkle on top. Next time I will probably not sprinkle it in because I would like the option of serving any of the remaining cheese later without the cherries as over time they will “pinken” the cheese. (you are probably saying “what left over cheese, fool?”)