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.
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 tbsp. sugar
2 cups bread flour
3/4 cup warm water
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp. fine salt
1/4 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.