Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Flatbread "pizza"

An old favorite dish that I have been doing since the mid-eighties [borrowed from uber-chef Wolfgang Puck] is his Smoked Salmon Pizza. Wolf started serving this dish at the original Spago in West Hollywood on Shattuck Drive. He called it Jewish Pizza for the cold-smoked lox served on the just baked pizza dough.

The dough is blind baked, crème fraîche is added to it, some red onion and capers, sprigs of dill, cracked pepper and a squeeze of lemon. For his really great customers he would add an extravagance--fresh sevruga caviar.

Lately flatbread has become popular as an appetizer--a smaller cousin of pizza, and a perfect way to serve this delicious appetizer.

One of my favorite places to eat in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle is Black Bottle, a nice neighborhood place that serves small plates of interesting inexpensive appetizers, and good wines by the glass. Recently I fell in love with their flatbread of béchamel and prosciutto [$9] which they serve in charming fluted tart pans.

We recently got some of those tart pans in stock here at Pacific Grill, and I have since been experimenting with different flatbreads served this way. The smoked salmon version was a big hit. I am contemplating serving the flatbreads in this style on our Lunch Menu, and adding it to our Bar Menu.

This is a great appetizer for a party, or a light lunch, and part of the charm is serving the flatbread in the fluted tart pan that it is baked in.

If you plan on serving the cold-smoked salmon you first blind-bake the dough. Then assemble the toppings, and reheat the tart just from the bottom. Do NOT put the smoked salmon in the oven as you don't want to cook it. Just place the tart pan on a griddle, or on top of a barbecue for a minute or two, just so the dough becomes hot and re-crisps.

If you are making a more traditional pizza you would bake the entire pizza in a hot oven. Heirloom tomatoes & fresh mozzarella would be a great flatbread to make now that summer tomatoes are here, with a judicious drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and a scattering of freshly torn basil leaves as a garnish right as it comes out of the oven bubbling hot; or grilled radicchio with pancetta & fontina cheese--with maybe a sprinkle of red chili flakes.

I always try and serve a pizza with just a few main ingredients-- limiting the toppings to no more than 3, or the pizza becomes what Chef Mark Peel dismissively refers to as a pantyhose pizza--one size fits all....

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