I don’t think we are going to get much further without talking about Laurie Colwin. I ate and cooked plenty of food before I fell into her loving embrace, but nothing I have eaten or cooked since has been remotely the same. If you don’t already have a copy of Home Cooking and More Home Cooking, there’s no time like the holiday season to treat yourself right. I have gifted, loaned out, lost and replaced enough copies of those books to build a small shed. My daughters have been seen curled up on the couch with her, and let me say they do not seek out a lot of food writing for their reading material. She is deeply concerned with making something tasty and satisfying without going to very much trouble, and with helping you do the same, and forgiving in herself and you the times you just have to take a shortcut. I like these qualities in a person. She had already, sadly, died when I discovered her, or I think I would have constructed that small shed in her yard and lived there as her acolyte. She lived pretty nearby. I discovered with deep satisfaction, reading the introduction to her books, that my beloved high school English teacher had been her close friend, which makes me sigh with happiness and regret.
I’ve asked her here today to talk about flatbread, and I asked her for two reasons: her recipe rocks, and she makes it all seem very relaxing and manageable. Which it is. Mindset, mindset. Today the lunchboxes trundled off with flatbread and slices of mozzarella and ham to eat with them. I did a time/motion study, and can attest that it took exactly, precisely and specifically no time at all to assemble this in a container, as compared to the time it takes to make a sandwich. Totally comparable. Mindset, mindset.
I don’t have TIME to make flatbread, you are getting ready to say. Of course you don’t. Neither do I, in the morning before school, you big silly. If I have made it last night for dinner, or at some other time and stuck some in the freezer, though, the toaster oven and I can make it seem like I do. If, as is often the case, I haven’t done that, Laurie and I want you to know that even Stop & Shop has garlic naan in their bakery and freezer sections. Ditto Trader Joe’s, and any other grocery store you may frequent.
But I do warmly encourage making the bread one time at least, for the buzz of delirious self-congratulation it produces. Don’t be alarmed by the black caraway seeds called for. For the naan experience, they are extraneous anyway. But if you can get your hands on some, try it that way, too. Not a flavor you bump into very often, and pretty exciting for the tastebuds.
My friend Alana over at eating from the ground up has faithfully reproduced Laurie Colwin’s recipe word for word, so head over there to make use of it. You’ll get a bonus lentil soup out of the visit, among other delights.
If you want to turn your flatbread into garlic naan, just make the breads smaller, and brush them with garlic butter when they are done.