One of the few cookbooks that has survived my cull is Flatbreads and Flavors. I´ve had it for a year, and I´ve picked it up and put it down many times, but I´ve never cooked from it. For one thing, it is almost off-puttingly cool. I´m not always in the mood for the off the cuff "we got this recipefrom a Tajik woman milking a goat outside her yurt when we were cycling in the Chinese Pamirs". If it catches you on one of those "Am I measuring my life out in coffee spoons?" days, it might tip you over to the suicidal.
On more settled, serene days, however, you can acknowledge with grace the fact that if you´ve never cycled in Guadarrama you´re unlikely to do it in the Chinese, or any other, Pamirs, and that that´s ok. But when you think of making the flatbread you quail. It looks complicated, there are quarry tiles invovled, and a process where you have to open and shut the oven door seventeen times, not to mention tackling something called a sponge. With a weary sigh you think that there´s as much chance of making injera as of climbing some Hymalayan gorge, and open a bag of flour tortillas instead.
The book is chock full of other things besides bread, though, so you can have a field day with curries and condiments. So all is not lost.
Unless, that is, you suddenly perfect a great method for making flatbreads. One that will win no smiles from Neapolitan grandmothers, and would make a Pakistani mother in law faint. But do you care? You can have a beautiful, golden hot slab of holy glory on the table in a few minutes, and who cares if it´s called pita or naan or fougasse or what? It´s there and it´s delicious, that´s all that matters.
It´s from The Kitchn, and it´s brilliant. Once you have your dough (and you can buy it, you know, so don´t complain) all you do is heat a covered skillet and cook a pizza or a naan or whatever inside. It works just as they say, except that you should definitely turn down the gas once you turn the thing. Brown spots are lovely, charred, blackened crust, no.
Also, I find that best results come from a heavy non-stick skillet, topped with a cast iron lid. This heats up in no time, and you don´t have to waste a lot of time and energy, and make your kitchen a living hell in summer. I think of this as the easy-bake tandoor, and it´s brilliant.
As for doughs, I have found out a heap of things in my experiments this week, and will Tell All in the next post.