There are those of you out there, probably many, who are saddened by the fact that this is the “final” weekend of the summer. Technically it’s not, but for most of you summer-lovin’ folks, after Monday things go back to normal. Kids go back to school, business moves back to business mode, and the flip flops give way to socks and shoes. And to that I say YIPEE!! (Well, not the flip flop part…I love flip flops, anytime.) I realize what I’m about to say equates to heresy in some minds, but I’m really glad this is the last weekend of the summer season.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the sun’s glow lasting into the night, the sounds of crickets, the blinking of fireflies, barbecues, cold beer, and sun dresses. But as of last summer, I live in a land where the seasons are split in two: Peak and Off. And the span between Memorial Day and Labor Day is most decidedly PEAK! If you live in a land like mine, you know exactly what I’m talking about. As soon as the calendar hits that last week in May, pa-POW! Your sleepy little burg becomes the place to be for anyone with vacation time. And you, local year-round inhabitant, the back seat is yours while those who have discovered just how swell it is to be, well, you, come in for a long weekend or a few weeks stretch. Five minutes to get your coffee and breakfast treat…gone. Park in front of the salon when it’s 3 minutes to your appointment? Nope. Walk in to restaurant and expect a table? Uh, do you have a reservation? Make a left turn out of that parking lot on Main Street? Sure. The day after Labor Day.
I have nothing against tourism or tourists, really. I used to live in a place where there was no “off” season, and trying to maneuver past a five-abreast fanny-packed family on your way to work was just part of the daily commute. The trade-off for being lucky enough to live in a place people liked to visit. And yes, like many of the locals, I earn my living partly due to the peak season fun of others. But as temperatures and wind speeds rise, and small town population quadruples into peak season vacation playland, it’s hard not to long for that first Tuesday in September.
So here’s to the last three day weekend of the season. Hope you had an awesome summer filled with family, friends and fun memories that you can look back on and enjoy all off season long. And in a spirit of gratitude, I say this with all the love and appreciation in the world: Please. Go home. ;-)
When it comes to summer, any recipe that involves not turning on the oven, well I’m all over that. Recently Melissa Clark shared a recipe for Grilled Stuffed Flat Bread in her column in the New York Times. Since I’ve been playing around with pizza on the grill for a while, I liked the option of a variation on that theme. This is a very adaptable recipe, so feel free to vary the stuffing. I’ve included the original with Feta and oregano, but I made one the other day with sun dried tomatoes, capers and olives that was great, and an egg, cheese and bacon one for breakfast was awfully tasty too. The key with the stuffing is not to overdo, and if the stuffing ingredients are warm (like the scrambled eggs), let them cool to room temp before stuffing bread. The dough also freezes really well, so make the full recipe, and stow a few in the freezer for another day.
Feta-Stuffed Grilled Flatbread
From Melissa Clark, NY Times
TOTAL TIME: 1 1/2 hours, plus rising time
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 3 cups whole-wheat flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, more as needed
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for brushing
- 2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour, more as needed
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh oregano leaves
- 1 cup grams crumbled feta cheese
In a small bowl, whisk together 2 cups warm water and the honey. Sprinkle yeast over warm water. Stir to dissolve. Gradually stir in whole-wheat flour. Stir about 1 minute. Let mixture rest, uncovered, 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle salt over mixture. Stir in yogurt and 1 tablespoon oil. Stir in 2 cups all-purpose flour, then add more a little at a time, until dough is too stiff to comfortably stir. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle in additional flour as needed to yield a smooth and only very slightly sticky dough.
- Let dough rise at room temperature in a lightly oiled bowl, loosely covered with a dish towel, until doubled in bulk, about 2 to 3 hours. Alternatively, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- In a blender or food processor, purée basil leaves, 1/2 cup oil, a large pinch of salt and the garlic. Scrape mixture into a bowl.
- Divide dough into 8 equal portions. If you let your dough rise at room temperature, chill dough balls for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours (I’ve left these overnight and they were fine to form flatbreads right out of the fridge the next morning).
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 dough ball to a 6-inch circle (keep remaining balls on a baking sheet loosely covered with a dish towel). Brush top of circle with basil oil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon oregano and 2 tablespoons feta. Fold edges of dough over the center of the filling and press together to seal, so filling is no longer visible. Use hands or a rolling pin to reroll dough to a 6-inch circle. Repeat with remaining dough balls.
- Brush both sides of dough rounds with olive oil and grill for 5 to 6 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until each side has grill marks. The bread is ready to be flipped when it begins to puff and bubble. Sprinkle with salt while hot and serve with remaining basil oil for dipping. Note: Measurements for dry ingredients are given by metric weight for greater accuracy. The equivalent measurements by volume are approximate.
- 8 servings
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