Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lavash Crackers and Vegan/Gluten-Free Dips/Spreads

September marked my inaugural entry in the Daring Baker's Challenge, and what fun! I was expecting primarily sweet-related recipes for the challenges so I was pleasantly surprised to see Lavash Crackers and Vegan/Gluten-Free Dips and Spreads as the chosen recipe. I rarely, if ever, bake non-sweet treats, and as a meat- and dairy-loving girl, I don't usually think twice about whether or not I'm using any animal products in my creations. So it was nice to step outside my comfort zone and really think about exactly what to make within the guidelines (I almost wrote "restrictions" but that makes it sound like I had to give up something good to fulfill the challenge, but the finished result was nothing short of decadent!)

While my crackers didn't roll out quite as thinly as I'd have like, they nonetheless came out crispy with just the hint of a chewy center. I divided the dough in half and sprinkled sea salt and sesame seeds to one half, and sea salt and poppy seeds to the other. Looking back I wish I would have gotten more creative with the herbs, but I will definitely get more adventurous when making them again. I rolled the dough out then cut strips with my trusty pizza cutter (which is a tool I use so often, yet rarely for pizza!). I liked how the uneven edges gave it a rustic look.

For my dips/spreads, I decided to make one savory and one (sort of) sweet.
First I made pineapple salsa. The combination of juicy roma tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and pineapple chunks made a really pretty presentation. I will admit I am a pepper/chile wuss, so my salsa was a little mild. The only "kick" came from the chopped red onion and minced garlic. But it was still super tasty, with a tangy tartness from the addition of balsamic vinegar that went well with the crispier pieces of the crackers.

My savory dip was olive hummus. I love love love black olives so I knew for this challenge I wanted to incorporate them somehow. The distinctive olive flavor meshed well with the hummus. A dash of cumin powder at the end gave it just the right amount of pep.


The day I made the crackers and dips I was heading to the Hollywood Bowl for the Beck/Spoon concert (woohoo!), so I decided to pack it all up and bring it for my friends. Now, perhaps it wasn't the easiest thing to attempt to eat in that situation (we did not have box seats with a table, just regular seating), but my friends were sure happy that I brought it all. Both dips and the crackers were very well received, thankfully.

Over all I was pleased with the end result. I will definitely do some things differently next time, and that's the beauty of the cracker/dip theme ­ the flavors and combinations are endless!

- Angie

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