Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lavash Crackers with a Trio of Dips

Many thanks to Natalie and Shel for the yummy cracker challenge. I received Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice book many years ago as a gift and read it from cover to cover with the intention of becoming not just a baker of sweet treats but also to hone my savory-baking repertoire. Sadly, I never moved beyond the pizza dough recipe, which by the way I highly recommend! Making the crackers were so much fun and I’m happy to report that they turned out fantastic! But I did not have too many to keep for myself since my coworkers staked a claim in most of the batch. It happened something like this:
“so what are you doing this weekend?”
“making crackers”
“how do you make crackers”
“it’s just like making bread, but you roll the dough really thin”
“can I try them?” “can I watch you bake them?” “Yum, can I have the recipe?!”

Olivia Lavash

To flavor my crackers I added about 2 tsp of minced garlic and 1 tsp of fresh thyme to the dough as I kneaded it. I also ended up kneading the dough a bit longer than called for (~30 minutes with a few breaks to rest my arms) just to be sure I had the right elasticity. I sprinkled the dough with a mixture of cumin seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, baked onion bits, Hungarian paprika, fresh ground pepper, and sea salt. I was thinking Everything Bagels. The flavor of the cumin seeds, toasting as the crackers baked, really came forward adding a wonderfully savory flavor to the crackers.


As for dips, I made three! All recipes lurking in my cookbook, clipped from magazines (or in the case of the red pepper dip—requested from a deli in a town I used to live) that I never got around to making. The spinach dip was good in a tasty, earthy, I-heart-spinach sort-of-way. The red pepper dip wasn’t quite what I remembered it tasted like when I used to order it at the deli. The white bean dip, however, was by far my favorite! A lemony, garlicy spread reminiscent of hummus but without the tahini taste. Here are the recipes for the dips, if you care to try them as well.

Chickpea and Spinach Spread

1 Tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 Tbs + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
10 oz spinach
Course salt
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp tahini paste

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (~ 1 minute). Add chickpeas and 1Tbs lemon juice. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add spinach, ¼ tsp salt and red pepper flakes. Cover; raise heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring once, until spinach has wilted, about 4 minutes. Uncover, raise heat to high. Cook, stirring until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Pulse mixture with tahini, 1 tsp lemon juice, and ¼ tsp salt in a food processor until slightly chunky.

Chunky White Bean Dip

1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can cannelli beans, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 8 oz container plain soy yogurt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
juice of one lemon

Puree half of the chickpeas and half of the cannelloni beans with the garlic, yogurt, lemon juice and spices until smooth. Add remaining beans and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip (adapted from HotCakes rosalita dip)

2 red bell peppers roasted, peeled and seeded
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
3 cloves garlic
1 cup blanched almonds, toasted
1 cup olive oil
¼ cup sherry vinegar
¼ tsp cayenne

Put garlic and salt in food processor and mince finely. Add the almonds and process until fine. Add peppers and tomatoes and pulse until smooth. While machine is running pour in the oil and process until combined. Then add the vinegar and cayenne. Season with salt if needed.

- Olivia

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