Grilled Flatbread


I’ve been baking bread since I was knee-high to a grasshopper–nine years old, see The Keeper of the Bread story. I make more regular loaf bread than anything else, but I like to try new things, different ways to play with bread. It keeps me entertained. Not there’s anything new about flatbread. People have been making flatbreads for thousands of years, both leavened and unleavened. It’s the oldest type of bread because it can be cooked simply on a hot stone, without an oven, and used to hold other foods. Every culture has their unique twist–tortilla, crepe, pizza, chapati, matzo, and so on. The popular American-style grilled flatbread is most similar to pizza, but has its roots in all of them, and can be used in so many ways.

This is a leavened flatbread, meaning it contains a “riser” (yeast) and is based on my Grandmother Bread recipe.

Never baked homemade bread before? Learn how to make bread here.
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How to make Grilled Flatbread:

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
3 1/2 cups flour

In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit five minutes. Add the salt, oil, and first cup of flour, stirring with a heavy spoon. Add more flour a little at a time, stirring until the dough becomes too stiff to continue stirring easily. Dust with a little more flour and begin kneading. The amount of flour is approximate–your mileage may vary! Continue adding flour and kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let dough rise in a greased, covered bowl until doubled. (Usually, about an hour.) Uncover bowl; sprinkle in a little more flour and knead again. Let rest five minutes.
Tear off a ball of dough at a time–whatever size you like–and shape flat on a floured surface. You can use a rolling pin, or just flatten and shape with your hands. (Hand-shaping will give a more rustic look–you aren’t going for perfect here.) You can make a large flatbread and grill it for pizza, or you can make smaller flatbreads and use it for all kinds of things! Dipping bread, folded sandwiches, or cut sandwiches, appetizers or a meal. This is a very versatile way to use a bread dough.
Brush both sides of the shaped flatbreads with olive oil and sprinkle with salt (optional) then grill outdoors or inside on a stove top grill pan over medium-high heat for about five minutes per side. (This will vary on your heat setting and the thickness of your flatbread, so watch it.)
This is even better grilled outdoors, but it’s a mite cold here at the moment…..

Grilled flatbread BLT:

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Country Bean Cakes


A pot o’ beans.

I was talking food with my hired men one day recently and one of them mentioned their mother making bean cakes. Because I’m quirky like that about obscure back country recipes, I was completely struck by “bean cakes” and had to grill him to the ground about what exactly this bean cake thing is. Give me your bean cake secrets.

It’s not a cake, as in a sweet cake. It’s not sweet.

It’s not a patty, as in a vegetarian burger.

It’s made of beans, in a batter, and fried.

Are the beans mashed? No.

Are the beans seasoned? Yes. It’s a leftovers recipe.

What IS the recipe?

Not precise, depends on how much beans you have left over. So don’t get stuck on the amount of beans.

Is the batter as thin as pancakes or as thick as biscuits? Somewhere in between.

What do you put on it when you eat it? Ketchup. (Of course!)

After I took the interrogative spotlight out of his eyes, I went away and came up with this recipe, which blew my mind because it was so delicious. As you can see, I made it based on a cornbread recipe, but this is truly a recipe-less recipe. Meaning, it was born to be fiddled with according to your tastes and what you have on hand. If you don’t like cornbread, use all-purpose flour in total. You could also use self-rising flour and omit the baking powder. You could even straight up use your favorite pancake recipe and add the seasoned beans. This is, at its country soul, a savory bean pancake. But because beans and cornbread go so beautifully together, I wanted to use cornmeal in my batter.
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How to make Bean Cakes:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups seasoned pinto beans, drained*

*Season the beans as you normally like them, adding in onions, peppers, whatever you like.

In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except the beans and stir to combine. (Don’t over-stir.) Then add the beans.
Stir lightly again to combine. See details about making a pot of beans here.

Heat a skillet (iron is best, but a griddle will also do) on medium-high heat. I used an iron skillet with some bacon fat. Pour the batter into the skillet and cook about a minute or so per side.
The cake will bubble up on top (like pancakes do) and tell you it’s time to flip it.
I was actually shocked because these were so good, they were almost addictive. I tried them with ketchup, with hot sauce, and even with syrup (despite the savory ingredients). It was ALL DELICIOUS. They’re even delicious with nothing on top.
This is definitely going into my regular recipe repertoire. Make some–I recommend it!

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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