Alice Waters’ Flatbread

The first cookbooks I ever got were from my older brother. I don’t know what he was thinking, because I was seventeen at the time, living in northwestern New Jersey, and eating Snickers Bars for breakfast. But he bought me two cookbooks that were so out of my league at that time that it put me off cooking for a year or two: The Cordon Bleu Cookbook and Alice Waters’ first cookbook, Chez Panisse Menus.

The ingredients for those cookbooks might as well have been written in a different language for me, which in the Cordon Bleu case, it kind of was. But I knew some French. I didn’t know San Franciscan for ingredients, though. Ramps? Huh? It would be years before I saw those bad boys in a farmers’ market in northern California.

Well, I don’t know if I’ve gotten better or Alice Waters has finally begun writing recipes that don’t make my head spin. I suspect we’ve met somewhere in between. But here’s a recipe for flatbreads that’s easy, tasty, and so much better than the kinds of rubbery things you can buy in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. So easy Mrak could make it. If you could wake him up from his nap, that is.

Alice Waters’ Flatbreads (makes 16)

2 C. whole wheat flour

1 t. salt

1/2 t. baking powder

3/4 C. warm water

3 T. extra-virgin olive oil

In a bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Stir in the water and olive oil and knead to form moist dough. Cover with a towel and let sit for 30 minutes.

Heat a cast-iron skillet. Divide dough into 16 balls. Roll out each ball to a 6-by-3-inch oval on a lightly floured surface (they still taste good if you let your 12 year old do it and the ovals are more like raggy circles).

Cook two flatbreads at a time over medium heat until they start to brown (2 minutes or so). Flip and cook another 2 minutes.

You can serve them like that, warm from the pan, or cook them over a grill or open flame until they’re somewhat charred. Great with hummus or other bean dips. Good with peanut butter and jam. Better still with Nutella.

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