Vivek is back…and we’re all smarter for it!
Lately, I’ve been going to the Farmer’s Markets here in Nashville and getting really inspired to cook everything that our vendors have. With summer approaching, you can sense all the awesome produce that is about to burst into the market. Little spring onions, pencil-thin asparagus, and fresh green peas are starting to creep their way back into my life. Last week, I was talking to the cheesemonger over at the market and she showed me this awesome fresh sheep’s milk cheese called Brebis, made at Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN (which you can order online!) The cool thing about this cheese is that it’s only available once a year, for a few months because it is made during sheep milking season. I never really knew sheep had a milking season, but apparently they do. And that’s the time they make this lovely fresh cheese. It’s creamy, acidic, and slightly sweet. When I tasted some, I immediately thought of having some really fresh, toasted bread and shmearing the cheese all over it.
So after I bought my cheese and went home, I whipped up my pizza dough recipe and fired up the grill. If you’ve never had grilled pizza/flatbread, you gotta try it out. Then I started piling on the cheese, which melted just slightly after hitting the warm bread. With some fresh herbs and roasted peppers, this dish was incredible! Feel free to add whatever toppings you want, but recognize that the cheese here, really is the star of the plate. If you can’t find brebis, I would say use a really fresh goat cheese.
Making your own pizza is a valuable skill and something that’s not too difficult to do at home. Give it a shot and see how you like it!
Grilled Homemade Flatbread with Fresh Cheese, Chives, and Roasted Peppers
1 package of active dry yeast (make sure it’s not expired, ok?)
1 tsp honey
1 cup of warm water (about 110 degrees)
3 cups of all purpose flour (sifted)
1 T kosher salt
1 T extra virgin olive oil
Put the active dry yeast in the clean bowl of your stand mixer (or a big bowl if you’re mixing this by hand). Pour the honey and warm water in and mix it around. Immediately, your kitchen should smell like bread or if your nosebuds are like mine, beer (yeast is a key ingredient in beer). Honey is what the yeast eats. Don’t add salt now, because that’ll kill the yeast. Let this sit for about 5 minutes, until it becomes foamy and develops a skin on top of the water. While the yeast is activating, sift the 3 cups of flour and salt. Put the stand mixer (paddle attachment) on low speed and add the flour in 1/2 cup increments. Add the extra virgin olive oil. Keep adding the flour until the dough starts coming together. Once the dough is a cohesive ball, switch to the dough hook for kneading and increase the speed to medium. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until it becomes really soft and smooth. (And, yes, I do mean 10 minutes because this isn’t a flaky dough like a biscuit, so knead away!) Roll it up into a ball and rub it with olive oil. Put in a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap, to prevent a skin from forming. Now, you gotta let the dough rest for a few hours (maybe 2-3) in a warm spot. This will allow the dough to proof. If you tried to bake the dough now, it would be really tough and dense. Allowing it to proof makes it light, airy, and crispy. It’ll really grow in size. After it’s proofed, punch the dough, cut it into 4 pieces, and then roll it out nice and thin to whatever shape you want. I find rectangular works well for the grill.
freshly chopped chives
1 roasted red bell pepper
Fire up your grill and make a medium heat fire. Once you have rolled out your pizza, brush it with some olive oil and season with salt. Grill over the coals for about 3 minutes, until it develops those awesome grill marks and gets some char. Flip it over and cook it on the other side. If you rolled out your dough thick, move it over to the part of the grill that has no coals, and cover so the grill becomes an oven and your dough cooks through.
Once finished, schmear the cheese all over the bread and top with the chives and roasted peppers.
Hope you all enjoy and get to try making your own flatbread at home!