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Ta da!! It’s once again time to unveil Sept’s DB challenge….LAVASH CRACKERS with dips! I was really excited about this challenge as I’ve never had a savoury challenge since joining the group and crackers are definitely new to me! I haven’t even heard of lavash crackers before this!

Initially I was gonna make these for a catering engagement I committed to. Sadly, as most know, I fell really sick so had to cancel. Guess who the lucky one was? You got it! Alan! I had so much fun making these…and even more gobbling them down! The choices were endless and the opportunity to mix and match flavours was too hard to pass. If you have never had them, you need to try them! These are the perfect hors d’oeuvres accompaniment and definitely a lot healthier than having chips and nachos! 🙂

I borrowed a sauces, dips and relishes book from the library and after flipping through it, I wanted to make EVERYTHING!! Then there were those magazines I had that have amazing recipes in them. Between all these resources it wasn’t surprising I couldn’t decide. In the end, I decided I’ll play safe (cause Alan’s not an adventurous eater), so I decided on 3 flavours for the crackers: (a) thyme and lemon salt with fresh thyme, (b) black sesame seeds, and (c) mixture of fennel, cumin and ajwain seeds. As for the dips I decided on the ever classic basil pesto (but with pistachio nuts instead of pine nuts) and chili relish. The result: YUMMY!! Good choice Natalie (Gluten A Go Go) and Shel (Musings from The Fishbowl)!

Lavash Crackers by Peter Reinhart

Ingredients: (Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers)

  • 1  1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour 
  • 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
  • 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
  • 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
  • 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
  • Black sesame seeds
  • Thyme and lemon salt and fresh thyme
  • Ajwain, fennel and cumin seeds
  • Any other spices or seasoning of your choice
Method:
1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball.  You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.            

2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter.  Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed.  The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled.  Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).            

4. Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter.  Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour.  Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. 

You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax.  At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down.  Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes.  When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes.  Line a sheet pan with baking parchment.  Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment.  If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors. 

 

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf.  Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.)  Be careful with spices and salt – a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough.  You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking.  If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.  

6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

7. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.  You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Chilli Relish

Ingredients:

  • 6 tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and shopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 tbsp sugar 
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • A handful of basil leaves, chopped
Method:
  • Put tomatoes directly on stovetop and heat on medium-high heat. Continue to turn it around until the skin splits and wrinkles. 
  • Slip off the tomato skins and roughly chop the flesh.
  • Heat saucepan on medium and drizzle with olive oil. Add chopped onion, red pepper and garlic to pan.
  • Cook till pepper is softened. Add chopped tomatoes, cover and cook for roughly 5 minutes or until the tomatoes release their juices.
  • Stir in the cinnamon, chilli powder, ginger, salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar. Bring gently to boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. 
  • Simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the mixture is pulpy. Stir in the basil leaves and season if needed. 
  • Allow to cool completely then transfer to a jar with a tight fitting lid. Store, covered in the fridge.

Basil Pesto
Ingredients:
  • Fresh basil
  • Garlic cloves
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Method:
  • Using a pestle and mortar, pound and mix all the above ingredients. If you want it to be finer, then throw it into a food processor and mix it up well.
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