Monday, April 4, 2011

Flatbread with Honey and Balsamic Tomatoes

We celebrated my sister-in-law's birthday this past weekend, and I was given the task of bringing an appetizer to the pre-dinner cocktail party. I find it is always difficult to carry food across town without the dish falling onto the floor of the car, getting soggy, or just looking generally tired and messy. I decided to take an Italian flatbread with tomatoes and break it apart into its two essential parts, the bread and the tomato topping. This appetizer is perfect for a spring or summer evening, as it is fresh and light, with a nice touch to both sweet and savory taste buds.

2 highly active yeast packets
1 1/4 cups of water
1 Tablespoon of honey
2 eggs
1 teaspoon  of salt
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
5 cups of flour

Attach your dough hook to your standing mixer and empty the contents of two highly active yeast packets into the bowl.
Add 1 1/4 cups of warm water. I generally just use the hot water from my kitchen sink. Make sure that the water is not scalding, otherwise you will kill your yeast. Wait about 5 minutes after you add the water to make sure that the yeast is active, you are looking for tiny bubbles. It would be rather disheartening to not get all the way through the process, only to have bread that will not rise because the yeast was the problem from the beginning.
Add 1 Tablespoon of honey. I personally will add two tablespoons next time. If you do add this extra tablespoon, be sure the compensate with a bit more flour.
Add two large eggs and combine.
Add one teaspoon of salt.
Add 1/2 cup of nice extra virgin olive oil.
Slowly add about 4 1/2 cups of flour. Stop adding flour as soon as the dough almost forms a ball around the dough hook.
Remove the dough from the dough hook and place onto a nicely floured surface (1/2 cup) with extra flour ready to be integrated while kneading.
Kneed for about 5 minutes, constantly integrating more flour, until the dough is no longer tacky. Form the dough into a ball.
Place the bread in a ceramic bowl and set in a warm space for about 30 minutes. I often times warm up my oven to the lowest setting for a very short time while making the dough, and then turn it off before I place my dough in the oven. This ensures a warm and draft free environment. Essential for happily rising dough.
Let the dough rise until doubled.

Remove the dough from the ceramic bowl and punch the dough down slightly on a floured surface.
Cut the dough into four equal pieces.
Roll each piece into an equal sized ball and then cover with a light cloth to let rise for another 30 minutes.
The four small rounds will again be doubled in size.

Roll each ball out into a flat disk, about an inch in thickness.
Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet. Place the dough in the skillet and cook until the underside is browned and the top poofs, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Place the toasted dough onto cooking sheets and place in a 400 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Cut the baked flat bread rounds into pie pieces for easier serving and traveling.
Honey and Balsamic Tomatoes
2 pints of cherry or grape tomatoes
4 garlic cloves; 1 minced and the other 3 whole
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons of honey
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise
Place all of the sliced tomatoes in a large baking dish.
Unwrap the garlic and remove four cloves.

 Smash each garlic clove with the palm of your hand to aid in the removal of the skin.

Finely mince one of the garlic cloves and leave the remaining three whole.

Add the garlic to the cut tomatoes.
 Add the dried thyme to the tomatoes.
Add the crushed red pepper to the tomatoes.
Add the honey and balsamic vinegar and mix everything together.

Bake the tomatoes for about an hour at 475 degrees.
Slice the fresh basil and prepare the pine nuts.
Pull the tomatoes out of the oven as they are beginning to caramelize.
Place the tomatoes in a serving (if traveling perhaps Tupperware) and then top with the basil and pine nuts.
 Here is how I took my appetizer to the party!  The sweet hostess had dishes ready for the bread and tomatoes.
It was a delicious hit and was easy to move from my kitchen to the hostesses home! Best of was all gone by the time we left for dinner!
 The puppies after helping in the kitchen...they were worn out!

No comments:

Post a Comment