Saturday, February 20, 2010

2/3 the joie

My friend Mary and I went to Urban Flats recently, which I enjoyed very much. It got me thinking about flatbreads and all the potential deliciousness I could create. See, I enjoy restaurants not only just for what happens right there and then, but the establishment receives bonus points from me (redeemable for absolutely nothing) if I am inspired to create. Urban Flats definitely won on that point and was the impetus for tonight's dinner.

One thing I am unbelievably thankful for here in Jacksonville is the acquisition of girlfriends. Mary, Sarah and I make up Le Joie de Vivre, which mostly involves eating good food and drinking good wine. I also am so so so so indescribably thankful to have good friends that encourage and pray for me, and who also tell me when I'm being ridiculous (Sarah) or unreasonable (Mary). I need that. So we were totally sad that Sarah was too sick to come for dinner at my place tonight, so Mary and I took this picture:

Before I share the recipes, I also should give a shout out to good St. Paschal. This statue of St.
Paschal came to live at my house last Sunday and was a gift from one of the kindest, most considerate and most thoughtful people I have the pleasure to know. Anyway, Paschal is the patron saint of chefs and cooks, and he now watches over my kitchen. So far, everything I've made under his watchful eye has been a success!

For starters, we had a mixed citrus salad with mint and feta in a dijon dressing. My salad was not as beautiful as the one on the original website, so I will just link you here and let you enjoy her pictures. I followed the recipe exactly except that I substituted shallot for the red onion, since I'm not a huge fan of raw red onion. To be honest, I thought I wouldn't like this. Even as I made it, I was unconvinced. But my awesome foodie friend Audrey told me I should make it, and one bite convinced me. You should try it, too. (smittenkitchen is one of my favorite food blogs, btw.)

The flatbreads were fantastic. I got the recipe for the dough here, and it was a tremendous success. I will be using it over and over and over again. Word to the wise: DEFINITELY pre-heat the pan you will cook it on. I did it with one of the flatbreads and not with the other, and the difference was marked. Also, I sprayed the pan with pam, which I highly recommend.

Flatbread with pear and gorgonzola cheese
I followed the recipe from the website exactly, so I'll just link you here. Totally delicious.

Flatbread with roasted vegetables, spinach, prosciutto and goat cheese
disclaimer: this is a lauren recipe, which means I didn't really measure anything and added things haphazardly as they occurred to me.
1 lb fresh flatbread dough
Roasted tomatoes (whatever kind you want. I used 4 medium tomatoes- the kind on the vine)
6 cloves garlic
2 bell peppers (I used one green, one yellow)
1/2 yellow onion
5 oz fresh baby spinach
2 slices prosciutto
as much goat cheese as you want (I didn't have very much and would have used more)
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325. Slice tomatoes and peel and slice garlic. Put tomatoes and garlic on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pierce bell peppers and rub with olive oil. Put vegetables in oven to roast for about an hour to 90 mins. When the vegetables are done, peel and seed peppers and slice them into thin strips. The tomatoes should be pretty mushy and almost sauce-y.

Slice onion into thin strips and saute in olive oil over medium heat until translucent and starting to brown. Remove onions from the pan and put them on a plate. Add the baby spinach to the oil and cook until just wilted.

Increase oven heat to 500 and put in your baking sheet. Roll the flatbread dough out per the recipe instructions on the website and put it on the preheated inverted baking sheet. Quickly spread the tomatoes and garlic on the bottom, followed by a layer of onions and peppers. Then spread spinach across the top. Tear prosciutto into smallish pieces and add that. Finally, dot the top with goat cheese. Bake for about 10 minutes. You want the crust to be brown, but be careful that it doesn't burn.

*unfortunately, I didn't get a good picture of the pear gorgonzola flatbread after I added the arugula and shaved parmesan that the recipe calls for. It is definitely an integral part of the recipe and shouldn't be skipped!

For dessert, I served greek yogurt with honey, fresh blueberries and spiced nuts.

To make the spiced nuts, toss them (today I used a blend of almonds, pecans and walnuts) with one egg white, a little bit of water, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, allspice and nutmeg. When the nuts are totally coated, turn them out onto a baking sheet and bake at 300 for about an hour. (Sorry, another lauren recipe, so no measurements... I just eyeball it. If that makes you nervous, google "spiced nuts" and get approximations from that).

To serve, I spooned a little yogurt into a bowl, drizzled generously with honey, and sprinkled the nuts and blueberries around the side. Healthy and tasty! It would make a good breakfast, too.

Happy cooking!