When is pizza not pizza? When it is flatbread of course. Flat bread is one of my favorite go to foods. It can be served as part of a light dinner, as an appetizer or even a mid afternoon snack. All it takes is some flatbread—pre made or my preference of fresh homemade pizza dough– and the toppings of your choice. You can make them sweet, savory or a combination of the two. Top them with meat, cheese, fruits or vegetables. Really, anything can be a topping for flatbread so you can make individual ones to please your entire family or bake up a variety for a smorgasbord.
This flatbread is one of my favorites and is inspired by the Savory Simple food blog. I’ve used my own pizza dough and topped it with fresh ricotta cheese, crumbled bacon and homemade port infused onion jam. The jam is sweet, savory and decadent and the key to its success is cooking the onions slowly so they caramelize. You can make the jam earlier in the day if you prefer then top the flatbread with it when you are ready to cook. So go ahead and try this recipe then let your imagination decide which direction you go next. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
RICOTTA & ONION-PORT JAM FLATBREAD
For the flatbread:
1 recipe of your favorite pizza dough
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup onion-port jam
1 cup crumbled bacon
1/4 cup green onions, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large yellow onions, peeled, quartered and sliced thin
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup water (more if needed)
1/2 cup port wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Melt the butter on low heat in a large skillet.
- Add the onions, sugar and salt.
- Sweat the onions, stirring, until they begin to caramelize.
- Turn up the heat to medium-low. Once the onions have begun to brown, pour approximately 2-3 tablespoons of water into the pan to deglaze, using a spatula to scrape up the brown bits and stir them into the onions.
- Repeat this glazing and deglazing process until the onions have been thoroughly caramelized and taste both sweet and bitter, approximately 25-35 minutes.
- Add the port wine and balsamic vinegar to the onions and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring periodically, until all of the liquid has reduced and is coating the onions.
- Taste and add a bit more salt if desired.
When you are ready to build your flatbreads:
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. If your oven has a pizza setting, use that.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper then set aside.
- Divide the pizza dough into four even portions and working one at a time on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a long oval.
- Place each piece of dough on the prepared baking sheet taking care to make sure the edges are not touching.
- Place 1/4 cup of the ricotta cheese on the top of each piece of dough and use a rubber spatula to evenly distribute it across the entire surface.
- Divide the onion-port jam amongst the flatbreads, spreading it to cover as much of the surface area as possible.
- Add the bacon and the green onions to each flatbread, evenly distributing them across the top of each one.
- Bake flat breads for 15-17 minutes or until the crusts are browned and crisp and the toppings are beginning to bubble.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.
Yields: 4 flatbreads
Spring is in the air, well sort of. At least it is here in Belgium. And the calendar definitely says it is spring which means that the fresh baby vegetables are beginning to replace hearty root vegetables at the stands in the markets. So what better way to celebrate the new season than with this easy risotto that is filled with the best fresh vegetables that spring has to offer?
Marking risotto is more of a formula rather than an exact recipe. Rice is slowly cooked in a mixture of broth and white wine. When the rice is al dente, you stir in the add-ins of your choice which in this case is the freshest of the baby vegetables I found at the market. Feel free to substitute whatever vegetables you like or that look good. And the final touch is the creamy addition of both parmesan cheese and creme fraiche (you can substitute sour cream if you prefer) which adds a touch of tang while bringing the entire dish together.
Enjoy the risotto as a meal unto itself or alongside your favorite grilled meat. Just be sure to have the rest of your meal ready before you finish the risotto since it truly tastes best when eaten immediately.
GREEN VEGETABLE RISOTTO
3/4 c green beans, blanched and snapped into 1 inch pieces
3/4 c sugar snap peas
3/4 c asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 small shallot, minced
1 green onion – white part only- mince
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
top with sliced green onion (Green part)
- Fill a medium sized pan with water and bring to a boil.
- Add the green beans, snap peas and asparagus.
- Cook for 30 seconds, drain in a colander and immediately rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- Combine the broth and white wine in a large saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the temperature but keep the broth mixture hot.
- In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until it is soft and golden.
- Add the rice and stir to combine making sure each grain of rice is coated with butter.
- Gradually add the hot broth to the rice by the ladleful, stirring to combine after each addition. Continue to stir the rice often to keep it from sticking.
- Continue adding the broth being sure to add the next ladle before the rice has cooked itself dry. Repeat this process until the rice is tender to the bite. You may not need to use all of the broth.
- Prior to adding the last ladle of broth, stir in the vegetables and the green onion to the rice and stir to combine.
- Off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese and creme fraiche.
- Top with sliced green onion.
- Serve immediately.
It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.
I really love Chinese and Chinese inspired food but here in my little corner of Belgium it imply isn’t as ubiquitous as it is in the United States. Yes there are restaurants that serve Chinese food and a few of them are actually pretty good but if you want home delivery for a cozy winter evening at home, think again. Virtually impossible. So my solution is to make it myself.
This recipe comes from Food 52 and I’ve tweaked it a bit to include more vegetables but the flavors remain true. Small pieces of chicken cook up quickly and by using pre-made oyster sauce as a base, this meal comes together in a snap. Do check the potency of your black pepper though and adjust accordingly. The over whelming response in my house is that this recipe is a keeper. And it’s fast; faster than take-out any night of the week.
CHINESE CHICKEN w/ BLACK PEPPER SAUCE
1 pound boneless chicken thigh
1 cup chopped green onion, white and light green parts only
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/2cup oyster sauce
2 teaspoons dark sweet soy sauce
2 teaspoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon black pepper
- Combine the sauce ingredients in small bowl and set aside.
- Place the cornstarch in a large plastic bag.
- Dice chicken into 1/2-inch pieces.
- Add the chicken to the cornstarch, seal the bag then toss to coat.
- Heat 1/2 cup of the oil in a wok set over medium-high heat and heat until it shimmers.
- Working in batches, fry the coated chicken pieces in hot oil until golden and cooked through.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all of the chicken has been cooked.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the wok and add the green onion, cooking until translucent.
- Stir in the mixed vegetables and toss to heat.
- Return the chicken to the wok then stir in the sauce, cooking until everything is hot.
Serve with hot steamed rice.
Roasted chicken is the ultimate in comfort food. There is something about the smells emanating from the oven that makes everything better. I also love just about anything made with coconut milk. So when I saw this Thai inspired take on roast chicken from The Kitchn I just knew that it would be good. And it was. Bathed in coconut milk, the chicken was so juicy and flavorful that I made a second chicken the next day because I couldn’t get enough of it.
COCONUT MILK & LEMONGRASS CHICKEN
1 whole roasting chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole pieces star anise
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro stems
1 large lemon, cut into eighths
1 stalk lemongrass, 5 inches of white part only, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
6 to 8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 (16-ounce) can coconut milk
3 cups torn kale
2 green onions, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
Chopped cilantro, to garnish
Cooked rice, to serve
- Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle it liberally with salt and pepper.
- Preheatt the oven to 375° F.
- Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, then add the oil.
- Put in the chicken, breast side up, and let it sizzle for about 30 seconds. Carefully flip the bird and crisp the other side for another 30 seconds.
- Remove the pan from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and pour off the the fat in the pot.
- Transfer the chicken back into the pot, breast side up, and add the cinnamon stick, star anise, chopped cilantro stems, lemon, lemongrass, garlic and coconut milk.
- Cook, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 60 to 90 minutes (depending on size).
- Spoon the sauce over the top of the bird to baste every 20 minutes or so. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165° F.
- Remove chicken from the pot and put it on a plate. Pull out and discard the cinnamon stick and star anise.
- Put the pot with the sauce back on the stovetop over medium heat, add the kale and stir until just wilted, about 10 seconds.
- Carve the chicken and serve each piece over rice with sauce spooned over the top.
- Garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro leaves.