Category Archives: pizza

Restaurant Style Flaky Bread Recipe

This recipe has bewitched Bon Appétit (BA) magazine to the point it was called their favorite bread of 2014. According to BA’s recipe developer and writer, Alison Roman, ‘It’s not often you dream about something you ate at a restaurant. But the warm, buttery, pull-apart, roti-esque ‘’flaky bread’’at Brooklyn’s Glasserie is powerful stuff. Once I made my own version, I found even more to love: It’s easy to throw together (just five ingredients) and crazy versatile (eat it with eggs in the morning, with dip for a snack, or wrapped around grilled meat at dinner). Best of all, you can make the dough ahead of time, freeze, and when a craving strikes or a friend stops by unannounced—boom! Just griddle and you’re good to go.’ Sounds intriguing, no? FYI, the bread from the Glasserie’s menu with focus on Middle Eastern food is called Griddle Bread.  Guess what, we’ve been having a recurring stash of the flaky/griddle bread dough in our freezer for the last 10 months and have no plans to abandon this habit. There is only one way for you to find out why, n’est-ce pas?  

The enchanting flaky bread is painfully similar to Paratha bread originating from South India, but who cares, right? As long as it can enthrall so many readers and bread-making enthusiasts, I’m in for the journey, and hopefully so will be you. I actually bothered to compare the traditional Paratha bread and the BA’s Flaky Bread recipes and discovered only one difference: ghee vs butter. The name Paratha means the ‘layers of cooked dough’ (with ghee or butter + salt successfully breaking it into the warm salty flakes when cooked). Whichever was the source the flaky bread inspiration morphed from, I have to admit: this bread is a total winner as no-leavening part of making it, flaky-salty crisp and ability to match almost anything edible you can think of with it, make it absolutely superior to many other bread creations. 

If you happen to be moving on July 1st (the weirdest thing to do on Canada Day and oddly enough, the most popular one in Quebec), this snack might save your day.

Bring it to your next potluck gathering or picnic, dress it with the blanket of homemade hummus or lentil avocado spread and it will jazz up the party in an instant – a highly rewarding experience I lived through already.

Equally, just a dollop or melting butter or ghee with some spiced honey drizzle over the hot flaky bread make complex and powerful flavor-texture dynamic with the subtle punch of sweet fire from chili honey which is hard to forget. And, hey, don’t you think about the calories when eating it or you will ruin the feast! PS: the quote above is for the re-assurance.

Two most important conditions to make the flaky bread a success: SALT for sprinkling and the right SKILLET. Salt has to be flaky: Maldon salt is suggested in the recipe, but I got away for less with fleur de sel or grey unrefined fine sea salt of French or Greek origin.  The cast iron skillet or griddle is highly advised, although I found it also very satisfactory to use ROCK-style pan, like the one in the image above and the one you can see on the images: it has white spots on the surface
Im skipping the visual step of making dough as this post is written on a short notice, but it’s no brainer as the recipe below explains. I suggest while making dough coils though, try to add some bits of bacon or cheese in them for an extra decadence.

Lets put it this way: I hope it will warm up your morning tomorrow (the forecast says we will have ‘cats and dogs’) and may be with the number of great dips or stuffing and some help of Sugar Sammy’s episodes  will help to bring the ‘two solitudes’ closer.

Happy Canada Day and Cheers to All!

Yields: 10 flaky breads
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more, room temperature, for brushing (about 10)
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon), or fleur de sel, or Mediterranean natural unrefined fine sea salt  
Olive oil (for parchment)
Whisk kosher salt and 3 cups flour in a large bowl. Drizzle in melted butter; mix well. Gradually mix in ¾ cup water. Knead on a lightly floured surface until dough is shiny and very soft, about 5 minutes. Wrap in plastic; let rest in a warm spot at least 4 hours.
Divide dough into 10 pieces and, using your palm, roll into balls. Place balls on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 15 minutes.
Working with 1 piece at a time, roll out balls on an un-floured surface with a rolling pin into very thin rounds or ovals about 9” across. (If dough bounces back, cover with plastic and let rest a few minutes.)
Brush tops of rounds with room-temperature butter and sprinkle with sea salt. Roll up each round onto itself to create a long thin rope. Wind each rope around itself to create a tight coil.
Working with 1 coil at a time, roll out on an un-floured surface to 10” rounds no more than ⅛” thick. Stack as you go, separating with sheets of parchment brushed with oil.
Heat a large cast-iron griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Working 1 at a time, brush both sides of a dough round with room-temperature butter (omitting the butter-brushing step made a better job in my case) and cook until lightly blistered and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer bread to a wire rack and sprinkle with sea salt.
Ahead: Coils can be rolled out 1 month ahead; wrap tightly and freeze. Cook from frozen (add 1–2 minutes to cooking time).

Adapted from: Flaky Bread Recipe by Alison Roman, Bon Appétit magazine, 02/2014

Potato Pizza with Baby Arugula

Everybody loves good pizza. Almost everybody loves potatoes. Combining these two favs into one dish can actually produce a blissful combination of yum. Years ago I tried my first potato pizza in Livorno, Italy, but was not much impressed. Perhaps it was not warm enough, or my palate was too young at the time… Today it’s a different story – I literally adore it! And now that (with years of practice) I’ve came up with my totally fool-proof recipe of pizza dough that always works, I make this pizza almost every second month. Along with many other varieties of pizzas of course (for that I double or triple the dough recipe below to stash a batch of pizza balls in a freezer and thaw them in a fridge overnight when ready to hit it).

Although I have dozens of cookbooks on Italian cooking, it was not until I got a “Great Tastes Italian“ that the recipe of potato pizza grabbed my attention due to a good quality image, a svelte look (if ever anything baked with cheese can be svelte) and a mountain of baby arugula on it (that bundle of health). It was called “Potato & Rocket Pizza“. Here we are: the visual impact pushed me to try this recipe and it was so delicious my family was literally fighting for the last piece.

I am including my perfect pizza dough recipe in this post – please take a note of it and you won’t regret it!

PIZZA BAKING TIP: When baking pizza, preheat oven to 450F at least 40 minutes before for a stone and at least 20 minutes before for the baking sheet for the best results.

For potato pizza, you can always experiment with ingredients (try sweet potatoes or very thinly sliced brussels sprouts (pre-soaked in salted water for 2 hours) and lemon, for change), but please do not make this recipe with mashed or boiled potatoes (or you will regret it).

Certainly, you can always experiment with specialty cheeses of your choice, like feta, blue, brie, Gorgonzola, etc.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes or until pizza base is crisp if you are using baking sheet. For a pizza stone, bake at 500 degree for about 10 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is brown and the cheese is melted.

Voila! Remove from the oven, top with fresh arugula and serve. For and extra layer of taste: umami lovers can add some anchovies, while meat lovers can add some prosciutto. I used some dry Coppa for this recipe.

Yields two pizzas
2 tablespoons instant dry yeast
1 1/2 cup lukewarm water
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading and stretching
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
In the bowl, add yeast to lukewarm water and let it stay for about 6 -10 minutes until creamy.

Combine 750 ml (3 cups) of flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer, and slowly add mix of yeast with water and olive oil. Mix well on low speed until ingredients begin to combine. Add gradually 250 ml (1 cup) of flour and continue to mix for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic and cleanly pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl.

Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic or parchment paper and towel and allow to rest for 1 hour in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until it has doubled in size. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a well floured surface. Form dough into a round and split the dough into 2 equal parts. [At this point you can store some extra dough into the freezer and thaw it in a fridge over night in future, when ready].
1 pizza dough (see above recipe)
2 small potatoes, washed, unpeeled and thinly sliced (about 2 cups) [preferably Yukon or Idaho]
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
7 oz cheese, cut into small cubes [mozzarella or cheddar
1/4 oz baby arugula
1 teaspoon dry oregano
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Salt and pepper to taste
Form the dough into a log on a floured surface. Dust with flour and cover loosely with plastic to retain moisture.  Allow it to rest until the formed dough rises in size again while you prepare potatoes.
Thinly slice potatoes using a knife or a mandolin. Drizzle sliced potatoes with 1 spoon of olive oil and work the oil into the potatoes with your fingers.

Grease the baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil (Note: no need to do that in using pizza stone or pizza baking tray with holes). Work out the dough flattening and stretching it gently with your fingers/palms and flipping 3-5 times on the floured surface. Leave the outer edges a little thicker. Once the dough is stretched to a desired size, transfer it to the pizza tray or a baking sheet. Using the palms of your hands, lightly flatten dough out to the edges of the pan. Spread 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon oregano in a circular motion leaving a 1-inch border.
Distribute the potatoes in a single layer, overlapping slightly if you can. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with cheese cubes and onions.
Bake at 450F for 15 to 18 minutes or until pizza base is crisp and the cheese is bubbling. For a pizza stone, bake at 500 degree for about 10 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is brown and the cheese is melted.

Top with arugula and serve. Bon Appétit!