Friday, April 1, 2011

Radish Rye Flatbread

I grew up in Illinois, the very center of the Midwest US, where we used to say that every recipe had a can of soup in it. Yes, despite being the agricultural mecca of the country, the Midwest was known as a land of casseroles more so than one of fresh, fabulous food, but all of that might have changed in the last few years. I received a review copy of the new book Heartland the Cookbook and learned of several new things about the food scene there. The number of artisan food purveyors has drastically increased. There's now La Quercia in Iowa which makes prosciutto from heritage Berkshire pigs, foraged foods are showing up on high-end restaurant menus, microbreweries and microdistilleries are making small batch products, and Prairie Fruits Farm in Champaign, Illinois and other small dairies are making chevre. Years ago, I attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and I don't recall any local cheese purveyors in town back then. I was thrilled to read about this change and the growing focus on local foods. I also learned that the Midwest now has thirty-three Slow Food chapters making it second only to the California Oregon Washington region. In addition to delivering all of that great news, the book is also full of beautiful photos of rural landscapes and, of course, food.

The recipes include breakfast dishes, breads, nibbles and drinks, salads and soups, main courses, and desserts. Several of the dishes recommend locally made items like that chevre from Champaign, Illinois or Chicago-made Vosges chocolate that's used in a hot fudge sundae with salted caramel sauce. I haven't made it back to the Midwest for a visit lately, so instead of using specific products from there, I cooked with the spirit of the book by using what I could get locally in Austin. There's a recipe for four seasons flatbread which showcases seasonal items in different toppings. The flatbreads themselves are made from no-knead recipes also in the book. I chose the no-knead sour caraway rye dough topped with a fresh herb cheese, sliced radishes, and chives. I used a feta, spinach, and herb spread made by Full Quiver Farm, and I found pretty, Easter egg radishes, and some green garlic which I added to the toppings, at the farmers' market last weekend. The no-knead dough was as simple as dough gets. Bread flour, rye flour, instant yeast, salt, cocoa powder for color, caraway seeds, molasses, yogurt, and water were mixed in a large bowl. Since there's no kneading, you do need to mix thoroughly with a spoon, but then the dough just sits to rise for a couple of hours and that's it. The dough was patted into an oval on a baking sheet, and it baked until browned and crisp on the surface. Once cool, the cheese was spread on top, and it was covered with sliced radishes and green garlic and chopped chives.

Fresh, early spring flavors of radish and green garlic and a thin layer of rich cheese were complemented nicely by the rye flatbread with caraway, cocoa, and molasses. As soon as local heirloom tomatoes appear, I'll use them for the flatbread version made with clover honey dough. The other recipes I'm looking forward to trying are prairie panzanella made with cornbread, an heirloom bean ragout in an acorn squash, and the next time we use the grill, I'm making the smoked goat cheese. Mostly, I'm looking forward to my next visit to the Midwest where I'll be seeking out some of the food artisans I learned about in the book.

I’m submitting this to Yeastspotting where you’ll find some seriously well-made bread.



29 comments:

  1. That is a delicious smorebrod! A great combo.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. I saw the photo and thought that bread would be a great way to showcase the black radishes I'm going to grow this year (they have black skins with a creamy white interior). Wouldn't that be dramatic! And would display very nicely in the black kitchens that are, supposedly, all the trend this year :)

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  3. How good a radishes! I want some watermelon radishes - so pretty. Beeautiful looking pics.
    Miss T
    x

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  4. Loved this flatbread, I don't use radishes often enough, and now I am wondering about the black radishes, after reading Kirsten comment about them. Must google.

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  5. What a great idea for an appetizer. So striking visually and also delicious I'm sure.

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  6. How thrilling to find out about all the changes in the Midwest! I can recall what the food landscape was like in Southern California when I first immigrated here in the late seventies: barren~ What a drastic change has occurred! Never imagined it could happen so dramatically and so fast.. this bread and the radishes sound wonderful, my favorite appetizer is radish and some crusty bread/ yum!

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  7. Oh how I love these cute little fuchsia radishes! Crunchy and mild peppery! Looks great with your flat bread :) In fact it brightens up your dish!

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  8. Amazing. I love the idea of caraway, cocoa and molasses in bread - it's a beautiful color, and I'll bet it tastes as good as it looks.

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  9. your flatbread would make a great snack for a friends gathering. with so many toppings to choose from, definitely will be a win for everyone.
    Thanks for sharing Lisa

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  10. Hubby would love this-it seems very Finnish with the rye and radishes :) I hadn't heard that about the cans of soup and the mid West!

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  11. What an intriguing combination...love the fresh flavours and the Spring like feel to it. YUM!

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  12. This is a flatbread dish after my own heart. I like nothing better than to sit with radishes, salt and bread and nibble away. Super idea to layer them with herbed cheese and on that wonderful flatbread, Lisa.

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  13. Did I hear radish and rye flatbread! That sounds so exciting and new variation bread baking. Love the texture and the color of the brad.

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  14. What an interesting combination...radish in flatbread...it sure look yummie with the cheese in between :-) Nice pictures and have a great week Lisa!

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  15. This is so reminiscent of Sunday brunches at my house growing up. At the time, I didn't like radishes, and boy did I miss out. Great cheeses and breads from Zabar's, and those beautiful radishes I blew off! This is the second entry today I've read that conjured up Sunday Brunch memories :) It looks amazing, Lisa!

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  16. That is different and looks so good.

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  17. Beautiful Rye bred, I am now starting to bake a lot of rye bread as well. I'd try to eat it with radish next time, I think that is such wonderful idea.

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  18. I love this concept - homemade flatbread, cheese and radishes!! I too don't eat radishes very often but I think that is going to change!

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  19. I would never have guessed that the midwest had so many Slow Food chapters. I eat and love radishes ever since I was a kid and my grandfather grew them for me and my mom made radish salads for me. I know I would love your delicious combination.

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  20. radishes are one of the few things for which i'll risk using the mandoline. chances are good that i'll slice myself, but i deem them worth it. great bread, too!

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  21. I love your tasty & haelthy flatbread a lot & that toppings is one of my favourite's!!

    MMMMMMMM,...divine Spring food! :)

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  22. I love rye flatbread and the way you serve them. Very healthy, nutritious and delicious!

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  23. Mmmm, this has so many delectable spring flavors in it! Looks amazing, Lisa. Thanks for giving us a sneak peek at the Heartland cookbook - I already put it on my book list. :-)

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  24. What a great use of radishes! I still have half a bunch in my refrigerator leftover from a salad. I can never think of what to use radishes in other than salad. Think I might try them on a pizza now. Thanks for planting the seed!

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  25. I love Easter egg radishes; so mild in flavor, and full in color. Great combination of texture and color here--simple and delicious!

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  26. The flavors incorporated into this bread are unusual and amazing! I'd love to try it! And I love the way you use the bread with the cheese spread and radishes, a favorite way to eat radishes for us!

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  27. I love this idea! All of the flavors are so good... you can never go wrong with carbs and cheese!

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  28. Oh, this does look delicious. I am loving this book...posted a review a couple of days ago, too...think I love it so much since I'm a midwesterner ;) Delicious post.

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