When I started thinking about which recipes to make in honor of this year’s Best Picture nominees, a few of the movies stumped me. Very few of the nominated pictures had any memorable food or drink moments, so I had to start thinking outside of the box. While Spotlight definitely lacked strong “food” themes, it was actually the first film where I had that “Ah Ha!” moment over what I wanted to make as a tribute – Homemade Black Pepper and Rosemary Flatbread.
This movie is centered on the Catholic Church and the abuse scandal that shook the faith of many devout Catholics worldwide. While I never grew up going to church, I often attended Sunday Mass with a few of my friends after the occasional Saturday sleepover. The rituals and ceremony of Mass always held quite a bit of appeal for me. I never minded going to church with my more devout friends, but there was always one moment during the service that I dreaded. Communion. When it came time to partake in the act of Communion during Mass, I distinctly remember feeling this ball of anxiety form in the center of my stomach. It was far and away the most awkward moment for me – even more awkward than being unsure of when to stand, or sit, or kneel, or say “And also with you.” Obviously, I was never allowed to take part in Communion because I had not been baptized, so when everyone around me left the pew to receive the blessing, drink the wine, and eat the wafer, I remained behind….alone. I was always the only one waiting in isolated silence for my friend to return, sometimes catching the curious gazes of others as they made their way up the aisle. Occasionally, I would hear a young voice ask their parent, “Mommy, why is that girl sitting there by herself?” Sometimes, there would be one or two other outsiders scattered throughout the church who were in a situation similar to mine. We would sheepishly smile at each other, acknowledging the other’s uneasiness and look down at our hands, waiting for this part of the service to end.
In retrospect, it is obvious to me now that my young, adolescent mind greatly exaggerated the notion that the church-goers around me were judging me in some way. In fact, it is much more likely that they didn’t even notice me sitting there, but those feelings of separateness and being an outsider are just something I think I will always associate with Communion.
Well, now that some of my teenage neuroses are out there for everyone to see, I can move on to the recipe I made in honor of the movie Spotlight. This is my ode to a Communion wafer (or at least what I thought they would be like, since I could never partake in one). To be totally honest, I have been very afraid to make homemade crackers. It just seems like a lot of work for something that is relatively inexpensive to purchase at the grocery store, but I was totally blown away by how easy this recipe was to make and especially by how amazing they tasted. Slather a little triple cream brie on top, drizzle a decent amount of honey over everything, and you have a winning combination, my friend! Now to make the experience complete, pair your cheese course with an Italian red wine (like the Chianti featured in the photos) and you have the perfect start to a great night. Cheers!
Homemade Black Pepper and Rosemary Flatbread
Recipe adapted from the July 2008 issue of Gourmet Magazine
- 1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
- Flaky sea salt (like Maldon)
- Special equipment: Parchment paper, rolling pin, and pastry brush
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees with a heavy duty baking sheet set on the middle rack. (By preheating the baking sheet, it helps to ensure a crispier texture by cooking the flatbread on all sides at once.)
In a medium sized mixing bowl, stir together the flour, rosemary, baking powder, salt and black pepper. Make a little well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the water and olive oil into the space. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry mixture using a wooden spoon until one larger dough ball forms. Gently knead the dough on a wooden mixing board or work surface about 8 to 10 times.
Divide the dough into 5 pieces and roll each piece into a small ball. Set the 5 dough balls aside, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. (Try not to skip the resting phase. Allowing the dough to rest helps it roll out into a thinner piece.)
After the dough has rested, take one of the balls and place it in the center of a piece of parchment paper. Make sure you re-cover the remaining dough balls with the plastic wrap as you work. Using your rolling pin, roll the dough into in a very thin shape. If the dough sticks to the parchment, hold down the opposite end of the paper with one hand as you press on the rolling pin with the other hand. Don’t worry about trying to form a perfect circle; you want the dough to be as thin and even in thickness as possible, so it may take on a wonky shape. Using a pastry brush, gently brush on a thin layer of olive oil and lightly sprinkle the flaky salt over the top of the dough.
Place the whole piece (parchment and rolled out dough) into the preheated oven, on top of the hot baking sheet. Bake until the dough turns a pale golden color and has a few darker spots throughout (approximately 9 to 10 minutes depending on your oven). Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a baking rack, discarding the used parchment. Repeat the rolling and baking steps individually for each dough ball. It’s OK to roll out each ball in advance, but don’t brush on the oil or salt until right before you bake it.
Once cool, break into pieces and serve. I highly recommend serving the flatbread with a brie and some honey, but any soft cheese would be lovely!