Recently we’ve been messing around with meze, cracking the spines of Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s Jerusalem and Claudia Roden’s Arabesque and The New Book of Middle Eastern Food in search of small somethings to serve alongside what has turned out to be a surprisingly addictive version of David Lebovitz’s baba ganoush. (We’ve been roasting the thin-skinned Asian eggplants from our farm share under the broiler until charred and soft, then blending the skins and flesh into the mix. Smokily delicious!) We also needed something to scoop with, since Michelle frowns on simply dipping fingers into a jar or bowl. (Steve tried to explain about the difference between one’s left and right hands, but was ignored.)
Steve thought of pita, and turned to Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, where he thought the editors had made a mistake since the page the index led to read “Lavash Crackers.” A sidebar informed him that “the same dough makes a nice pita bread,” as well as a softer, rollable kind of flatbread. All doughs being equal, we decided to go for the crunchy stuff—and that’s where Steve’s trusty pasta machine stepped in.
We first saw the cross-cultural benefits of a pasta press when we started making shao mai. And when Steve read that “the key to crisp lavash…is to roll out the dough paper thin,” he immediately enlisted the machine, which produced what you can see are quite lovely results. Making lavash isn’t much more of a chore than making matzo (though it does require more time due to its chametz nature) and it doesn’t necessarily even need a pasta machine. Salt, pepper, seeds, paprika or whatever spice you crave, this crunchy cracker is simple and sure to make your next meze a hit.
(adapted from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice)
- 1-1/2 c. unbleached bread flour
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/2 t. instant yeast
- 1 TB honey
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1/3 to 1/2 c. water, room temperature
- Optional black and white sesame seeds, poppy seeds, paprika, kosher salt, pepper and/or cumin seeds
Stir together the flour, salt, yeast, honey and oil. Stir in the water, using only enough to bring everything into a somewhat dry yet kneadable ball. Knead the dough by hand on a floured surface or in a stand mixture fitted with a dough hook for about 10 minutes, until it’s smooth and supple. Place the ball of dough into a lightly oiled bowl, making sure the dough ball is coated with oil on all sides.
Let the dough rise for about 90 minutes or until at least doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
After rising, use a rolling pin or pasta press to form paper-thin sheets of dough. To use a pasta press: put the dough into pieces that will fit through the press, rolling the sheets to level 5 thinness. Alternatively, roll the dough out as thin as you can with a rolling pin on a floured surface, then slice into 3′” to 4″ wide pieces. Place the dough sheets onto parchment paper-lined baking trays. Let rest for about 5 minutes.
Moisten the tops of the dough sheets with water from a spray bottle, then sprinkle on salt and seeds or spices to taste. (We used a combination of black and white sesame seeds, poppy seeds, paprika, salt and cumin seeds.)
Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crackers are brown, crispy and puffed. While still hot and on the baking sheet, cut with a knife into whatever size you want. Or break into shards once cooled.
Gorgeous & delicious, I’m sure. I was just complaining about the time it takes to make baba ganoush! 🙂 I may have to add homemade crackers to that time frame now…..
Thank you! (She who made neither the crackers nor the baba ganoush says. :)) The good thing is the crackers do stay fresh for several days if you keep them out of the air.
Absolute brilliance on pasta maker — need to try that cross-utilization technique very soon! And I really really wish my dinner tonight had consisted of everything in that first picture. Looks fantastic!
I really have grown to love Middle Eastern food of late. Though I do have a problem. With every dish I make, I think of another I want to go along with it. Consequently, it takes hours and hours before we can eat!
Oh-em-gee!! That looks divine, you’ve inspired me to give it a go. Another Middle Eastern gem you may want to check out is Saha by Greg Malouf. I dined in his Lebanese fusion restaurant in Melbourne last year and it was simply spectacular.
That does look like a lovely cookbook. Don’t tempt me. The bookshelves are already groaning. But we are due for a cookbook purge…
You’ve heard of clothes-swapping clubs, where people bring their existing outfits and walk out with new ones – maybe we need an international cookbook-swapping club!
Now that is a wonderful idea!
What a winner, and absolutely love that you are utilizing kitchen tools outside the box! Smart bears. Will now see if Boulder library has a copy of Roden’s Arabesque. Cheers!
Arabesque is a great book (though, like many authors, Roden does recycle a lot from earlier volumes).
The crackers look so yummy. It would go well with beer,too.^^
Oh, yes, beer!
Yes, I also learned fairly recently that pita and lavash bread do use the same dough! But what a wonderful use for the pasta machine! I’ll have to try that way next time I prepare a mezze-dinner. The other dishes on the picture look heavenly too!
Merci, Darya! It was cucumbers with yogurt and mint, lamb meatballs and bulgur with tomatoes. Wish I had some now, but alas it’s long gone.
I’ve used my pasta machine when making crackers, too, though mine aren’t nearly the beauties you’ve created. It’s just that my use of a rolling pin leaves very much to be desired. It’s either use the pasta machine or make a cracker about as thick as a Chicago-style pizza. 🙂
It is a great idea, isn’t it? Steve has “bad wrists” as he calls them, so he’s always looking for a way to use machines instead. (And I’m quite sure that your crackers were beautiful.)
Thanks, Rosemary. As I said to somebody above, though, this Middle Eastern kick is quite time-consuming because every dish makes me think of another I want to go along with it.
Beautiful photos! I’d love to sample all of those meze dishes you have there 🙂
Thanks so much! It’s a nice way to eat. I love lots of variety.
How incredibly good is Arabesque?! I covet my mum’s version and have made quite a few things from it – I must get Jerusalem – people rave about it. And I echo comments above…sheer genius to use the pasta maker….the opportunities are endless!
Arabesque is lovely. Every time I look at it I find something else I want to make. I haven’t cooked from Jerusalem much, though I’ve drooled over the pictures. I like Ottolenghi’s earlier books, too.
They do look like delicious crackers – I’ll have to get out the pasta machine 😉
I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t even know how to use the pasta maker. If Steve ever decides to leave, I’ll be lost!
Love the idea of using the pasta machine. Great looking lavash.
Thanks, Karen. Steve has what he calls “bad wrists” so he’s always looking for a machine to help.
I have “bad ankles” so I understand. 🙂
You guys are all over the place. And I mean that as a compliment. 😉
We have a lot of multiculturalism to make up for amongst the citizens of our great Commonwealth. 🙂
More inventiveness and lovely photos.
Coincidentally, I made some pita chips and baba ganoush last week!
And I also used David Lebovitz’s recipe! How much of a coincidence is that? They’re soo yummy, aren’t they?
You know what they say about great minds. 🙂 Yes, Lebovitz’s recipes are always good. I have never much liked eggplant except in Asian preparations and have often loathed baba ganoush.. But this totally made me rethink! Maybe if I ever had a good one, I’d even like moussaka! (Though I doubt it.)
I completely understand what you mean… Eggplants are too squishy after cooking. The baba ganoush however is completely different. I could keep eating it… So creamy & mousse like. Perhaps charring it removes some of that moisture that makes it squishy.
Love this. I am addicted to Jerusalem at the moment, I just tried the hummus recipe and it is amazing. If you like meze recipes, The Moro Cookbook my other favourite middle-eastern cookbook, it has fantastic recipes.
I love the Moro cookbook! Thanks for reminding me that I need to get that out again.
These look fantastic, and the pasta machine makes so much sense, saves hours of rolling. I have just made some venison liver pate and was contemplating what cracker to make, now solved by your sharing of this lovely recipe, plus I can use some of the mountain of black sesame seeds I have 🙂 Love your choice of cookbooks, some of my most used recently too. Thanks.
You’re so welcome! We were glad to use some of our seemingly endless store of black sesame seeds, too.
It gives me great pleasure to nominated you for The Versatile Blogger award because you have inspired me in one way or another. Thank you for that! Here’s some info http://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com/about/ and here’s my shout out to you! http://oregongreenacres.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/the-envelope-please/ I cannot think of one photo or recipe you have posted that hasn’t made me hungry.
That is so sweet!
I only read the very best 🙂
I too love Otto Lenghi and think this looks delicious!
Oh, and you can just pop right over for a takeout, can’t you? Lucky!
Oh this looks so good! Will be making it this weekend!
Thanks—hope it works out for you!
Genius! I’ve never thought to use the pasta roller for lavash. Think of all that time I’ve wasted with the pin! I’ve made Peter Reinhart’s lavash crackers—a wonderful alternative to hands (left OR right).
Sometimes I think Steve uses tools when doing it the old-fashioned way would be easier. But I agree that this technique really worked. Wish we still had some of those crackers. 🙂
Ooh, love! I have never thought of using my pasta press for yeast based doughs, I would have assumed they would get all gummed up. But they do not, eh? Wonderful. I will make this, as I too have been making a lot of (my own) baba ghanoush with all of the new season eggplants.
Even with honey and oil, I can keep this dough dry enough to squeeze through my machine. I’m becoming quite fond of crackers. This is not a good thing.
These look super gorgeous and crunchy. A good project for Trevor, the master of all things requiring patience in our house, including the pasta machine.
I use the pasta machine because I’m impatient!
Oh my! These lavash crackers are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your tips to roll these in the pasta maker! That is just genius!
Thanks so much, Amy! You know what they say about the use of tools separating us from all the other animals…
These look amazing. I adore a good cracker and crunch. I might try these with smoked salt, or do you think they’d be too salty?
I think that would be delicious!
Those look crispy delicious!
The left/right hand explanations is exactly the same sort of thing that seems so compelling to me–and causes my wife to roll her eyes and tell me to stop talk. These look great, perfect with the baba ganoush. Ken
Tell Jody I know just how she feels. 🙂
We live in Lavash Central!
Never thought to make my own – bet these taste amazing.
Can’t wait to try my hand at it.
You’re so welcome. Give it a try!
This looks delicious ! I also love Yottam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks. I am French, but I hope I’ll be able to go to one of his restaurants in London, soon ! Your blog is really beautiful. Have a nice day.
Merci, Sylvie! Ottolenghi’s cookbooks are great, aren’t they? I’d love to go to one his restaurants also.
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