Love is in the air

When we decided to go to New Orelans, we thought it would be fun to stay for Valentines Day and celebrate with friends.  We made reservations for a really fun looking restaurant…but Valentines’s Day morning, we looked at the pre set dinner menu, and decided that it would be much more fun to plan our own perfect menu and go to Whole Foods to buy all of the super fresh, local ingredients.

We sat in the living room, drinking our morning coffee (perfectly prepared by Chris, the best barista I know!) and went in a circle describing what our perfect meal would look like.  We got pretty serious…I took out a pen and paper and started writing ideas!  After a little debating and negotiating, we came up with a truly delicious menu:  a starter of fig and bacon flat bread topped with spicy arugula, a roasted red pepper and caramelized onion flat bread topped with feta cheese.  For the salad course, we went for a classic wedge with home made spicy ranch dressing.  For the main course, we were all in agreement…filet with garlic roasted shrimp, lemony parmesan risotto and roasted asparagus.  We decided to go back to Sucre for dessert, because, lets face it…I am no King Cake or gelato expert!

I took a few pictures of the prep work…and a few of the finished product…but I totally forgot to take a picture of the main course plate (oops! we were hungry!)  One of these days, I will put my risotto recipe up…because a truly special event calls for a creamy, decadent risotto…but recipe wise, this post is going to focus on the flat breads.  They are the perfect go-to dinner for company…you can top them with ANYTHING and because the dough is home made and perfectly delicious, you can be sure they will please any crowd.

I used to make the dough based on a variation of my great grandmother’s Italian bread recipe…but I found a recipe of Bobby Flay’s recently and though the ingredients and ratios are exactly the same, I like his prep method a little better…so I decided to combined the two!  Don’t be intimidated to make your own dough, it is SUPER easy and lots of fun because you get to get your hands dirty!

Basic Pizza Dough

  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all purpose or bread flour
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (Bobby Flay says, 110 degrees F)
  • 1 or 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Combine 3 1/2 cups of  flour, sugar, yeast and sea salt in a large bowl, mix well.  Make a little well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the water.  With a wooden spoon,  mix the dough well…it will look pretty dry at first, but just keep mixing until all of the dry ingredients are moist and the dough forms a ball.  If the dough is sticky, add a Tablespoon of flour at a a time, until the dough forms a nice, solid ball.  Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, coat your hands in Olive Oil, and gently knead for about 5 minutes until the dough forms a smooth ball.

Wash the bowl that you were using and grease it with Olive Oil.  Place the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Place it in a warm area and let it double in size (this should take about an hour).  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cover each ball with plastic wrap and let it stand for about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  When your dough is ready, work it into the shape of a flatbread…lightly grease and flour a cookie sheet, place the dough on it and stretch it to match the size and shape of the cookie sheet.  Top it with your favorite ingredients (for these, I used fig preserves, crumbled hickory smoked bacon and mozzarella cheese on one and then for the second, I caramelized a large onion, roasted a small red pepper topped with feta and parmesan) and place the pizzas in the oven for 15 or 20 minutes, until the crust in golden and the cheese is melted.  Let them cool for about 5 minutes, cut into squares and serve!

Here are a few pictures from the rest of the evening!