Saturday, September 27, 2008

My first lavash experience

I need to start with a brief discussion of Belgian flour. I hope no-one takes offence, flour here is pretty bad. There are only a few types of flour available in supermarkets and normal food stores, and only some of them actually serve their stated purpose. Bread flour here (white bread flour) has hardly any gluten content at all (9% protein, can you believe it?), and comes ready-mixed with “bean flour”!!!! Perfectly useless for making edible bread (or anything else that is edible for that matter). Pastry flour is good for pastry and cakes, but again, not for bread. Real bread flour can be obtained at specialist stores (e.g. as a British import), but the nearest outlet is quite far from my house. That left me with only one option: I had to mix plain pastry flour with some Italian “hard wheat” (durum wheat/semolina) flour in order to increase the gluten content. I replaced about 25% of the flour with this. I do this when I make Italian ravioli dough, and for puff pastry as well, whenever I need the gluten.

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After that, everything went more or less smoothly; I followed the recipe to the letter (except I used sugar instead of honey). I needed the full amount of water. I believe the dough could have used a bit more rising time (and/or more yeast, and/or warmer water), as it was only beginning to rise after 90 minutes. I’m also convinced that the proportion of olive oil should be at least tripled.

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I used my beloved Silpat mat for rolling, cutting (very carefully with my ravioli wheel) and baking.

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My baking time was about 25 minutes. I tasted one for scientific purposes, the other ones had to wait for the dips to be ready. They are crusty, and rather good!

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Let me mention that next time I intend to use half the dough to make “tortas de aceite”, a delicious addictive Spanish sweet cracker, following the recipe given by Susan at the Wild Yeast blog which looks very authentic to me.

Now for the dips.

Firstly, I made salmorejo, an Andalusian classic. Salmorejo is said to be “the mother of gazpacho”, and it is typical of Córdoba in Spain. I learned to make it from my ex-sister-in-law, but she always made it without measuring anything. I therefore used a recipe, which came from this site.

Don’t even attempt to make salmorejo if your tomatoes aren’t really tasty, red and ripe. I used 4 lovely tomatoes which were exactly 500 g (a little over 1 lb.), and about 2 oz. of bread (crust removed). I pressed the garlic before it went into the food processor. I also did peel tomatoes and remove crust from bread. Since it had to be vegan, I used neither eggs nor ham for decoration, just black olives.

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And the last dip is entirely my creation, a tweaked eggplant pesto trapanese recipe borrowing elements from pesto trapanese (see here) and from eggplant pesto (see here, which is in Italian).

I used:
2 eggplants/aubergines (about 500 g total weight)
2 Tbsp roasted pine-nuts
2 Tbsp roasted almonds
1 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 walnut halves
a small bunch of basil
one clove garlic (pressed through garlic press)
5 cherry tomatoes
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt (slightly over ½ tsp.)

My first step was roasting the eggplants directly over the gas flame until soft and all skin was charred. You have to be real careful when turning them, you grab them by the stalk and take care not to get burned. Then you peel off all charred eggplant skin, rinse them and press them between your hands to remove as much moisture as possible. The rest is easy, you just put everything into your faithful food processor and pulse. You don’t need to get it too smooth.

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Well, this was my first challenge. I never thought I’d be able to do it on time, considering I was rehearsing for a theatre piece (it went great BTW). I feel sooo proud. The crackers are nice, the dips are good too. Can’t wait to see all the other posts!

- Adriana

1 comment:

borgia said...

I love the salmorejo idea. your crackers looked tasty both baked and raw :)