With the dog days of summer in full swing across the country, many of us are looking for ways to beat the heat. However, I will personally endure whatever temperature is thrown my way as long as the season comes with ripe tomatoes! Whether they are Jersey, local heirloom, baby, hybrid etc. - I do not care, I love 'em all!
I grew up in New Jersey and remember the summer dinner table always having corn on the cob and tomato slices on it. The corn was grilled with butter and the tomatoes were simply sliced and seasoned. This is why I love enjoying the simplicity of a vegetable during its season. The star qualities are there to enjoy, without trying to mask flavors or over complicate a dish with multiple ingredients.
Even today, I always think of the summer months as a time to grill and not overheat your kitchen and house, even though I currently live in Florida and it always feels like summer, plus or minus some humidity … alright, plus or minus a lot of humidity! One of my favorite snacks or starters to a meal is a grilled flat-bread recipe I created, which I use milk and olive oil in. It allows you to prep your ingredients in the comfort of your air conditioning, cook everything on the grill while you enjoy a cool beverage or cocktail and then retreat to assemble your flat-bread back in the “lifesaving” temperatures of your home.
(Yields 4 flat-breads – approx. 8-12 slices ea.)
3 1/3 C All Purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1 T salt
3 T extra virgin olive oil
½ C water
½ C milk
1) Place all ingredients in mixer and using a dough hook, mix on low speed until well combined. Dough should pull away from the side when ready, approximately 3-5 minutes ( note: you may need to add additional flour).
2) Cut dough in four even pieces and wrap in plastic wrap. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Roll out dough to an oval shape as thin as you can. *(It stretches very well without additional dusting flour on table. The olive oil prevents the sticking.)
3) Spray grill grates with nonstick spray and place on medium heat for 3-4 minutes per side. Allow to rest and crisp on top rack of grill for 5 minutes. Remove and top with desired flavors.
The toppings for flat-bread are endless! My favorite approach is grilling zucchini & red onion while you are already outside. Then, coarsely chop the vegetables and mix with some fresh basil or arugula. I then spread some fresh ricotta cheese on the flat-bread to add some richness and serve as a base for the vegetable mixture. Couple this with the seasoned fresh tomato slices and BOOM! Perfect satisfaction!
I hope you use this flat-bread recipe as a canvas for your own creations whether at home or in your restaurant. It adds a great texture and taste to almost any flavor – sweet or savory. But, whatever your decision is make sure you include the tomatoes – after putting up with the summer heat … you will thank me for it!
Blogger’s note: Keep it here every Friday as Jeremy Hanlon serves up great recipes to adapt for your own foodservice operation or enjoy at home. Hanlon, a Food Network “Chopped” participant was recently crowned winner of this year's National Restaurant Association’s NRA Show® Hot Chef Challenge. As part of his winnings, Hanlon cooked alongside celebrity chef, restaurateur and Bravo TV’s “Top Chef Master 2” winner Marcus Samuelsson in the NRA Show’s World Culinary Showcase.
A feature of the Association’s annual Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, NRA Show Hot Chef Challenge 2010 invited people across America to submit a short YouTube™ video of themselves preparing their favorite recipe using fresh produce and any other ingredients for their chance at culinary stardom. Hanlon’s winning videofeatured him preparing achiote-accented cobia “sous vide” with local oranges, fennel and scallion, served with toasted organic quinoa and fresh basil.
You could be next year’s NRA Show Hot Chef Challenge winner!
Photo by: Montana Pritchard