Has it really been almost a month already? It’s Daring Bakers time again and I’m finding it hard to believe! Where has the last month a bit gone??? Well, it went into the diaper pail! There’s a lovely image for you 😉 But really, where has it gone? I really didn’t think I would be able to complete this month’s challenge and had it not been for some rather unfortunate circumstances, I wouldn’t have been able to. We are all well, don’t worry.
When I read that this moth’s challenge was lavash from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, I was ecstatic because I love that book and because it was something I had wanted to try for a while. Then I read there was a twist which I will admit I was NOT thrilled with. The dips/spreads for the crackers had to be vegan. I don’t know anything about veganism, much less vegan cooking. I didn’t even know know honey wasn’t vegan although now that I know, it makes perfect sense. After a few days, I came to terms with the vegan part and started looking forward to making the dip, if I ever got around to it, and see how it turned out.
Since lavash is Middle Eastern flatbread, I wanted to make at least one dip that was Middle Eastern. I figured lots of DBs would make it too but that didn’t deter me from making hummus. I had never made hummus before because I didn’t really want to buy a whole jar of tahini just for a few tablespoons but I bit the bullet. It was an expensive bullet. Since I only completed the challenge 3 days ago, I was in a bit of a hurry so I didn’t have time to shop around for the tahini. I ended up buying it at the health aisle of Publix for almost $7. Ouch, especially since I’m probably never going to use it again.
Now, I knew I wasn’t crazy about hummus so I also wanted to make something I would eat more of. I’m a big fan of white bean dip and anything Italians make with white beans so that was my choice for the other dip. I remember my days in Italy and all the white bean topped bruschetta I had….those were the days. But I digress.
The hummus recipe came from a beautiful book called Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros. If you’ve never seen this book (or Apples for Jam), you are missing out. Not only are the pictures beautiful, the binding perfect and the page maker a lovely shade of blue, the cover is actually textured. There is embossed shiny text over a matte picture background. The cover image is beautiful and the spine is covered in a beautiful pattern. Just beautiful and I admit that is why I bought both of those books but they turned out to be full of delicious sounding recipes too. Win-Win! The white bean dip recipe is a slight adaptation from the one found in Williams-Sonoma Mastering Hors d’Oeuvres. To make it vegan, I substituted the chicken stock for vegetable broth.
1 (450g) can chickpeas
1 large garlic clove
3 tbsp tahini
juice of 2 lemons
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
Drain the chickpeas and reserve the liquid. Crush the garlic with a little salt until it forms a puree. Put the chickpeas, tahini and garlic in a blender, puree a little and then season with salt. Add the lemon juice and continue pureeing until smooth. Scrape out into a bowl and thoroughly mix in the olive oil. If it’s a bit too dry, add some of the reserved chickpea liquid. Check there is enough salt. Sprinkle with the paprika and drizzle a little more oil if you like. Hummus will keep in an air tight container in the fridge for up to a week.
White Bean Dip
1 cup (7oz, 220g) dried white beans such as Great Northern beans or cannellini beans
4 shallots, 3-4 oz (90-125g) total weight, finely diced
5 3/4 cups (46 fl oz, 1.4L) vegetable broth, water or a combination of the two
1 bay leaf
1 small bunch of fresh chives
2 or 3 sprigs of tarragon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tomato, deseeded and finely chopped
Place the beans in a large colander. Sort through the beans and discard any that are wrinkled or blemished, along with any pebbles or grit. Rinse the beans well under running cold water and transfer to a large saucepan. Add enough water to cover the beans by two inches. Let the beans soak in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or up to overnight. Discard any husks that float to the top. Drain the beans in a colander rinse the pan.
Return the beans to the saucepan. Add the vegetable broth, diced shallots and bay leaf. Place over high heat, cover, and bring the stock to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. As soon as you see bubbles start to form, reduce the heat to a level where small bubbles occasionally break the surface of the liquid. Partially cover the saucepan and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the beans taste creamy in the center and are completely tender, 45 to 55 minutes but may be longer for older crop beans. While the beans are simmering, prepare the herbs. Mince the chives into small pieces. Remove the leaves from the tarragon and mince.
When the beans are cooked, drain them through a sieve set over a large bowl to reserve the cooking liquid. Discard the bay leaf. Transfer 2/3 cup ( 4 1/2 oz, 140 g) of the beans to a bowl and set aside. Transfer the remaining beans to a food processor. Using brief pulses, process the beans until they are coarsely pureed, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
With the food processor running, slowly pour 1/2 cup (4 fl oz, 125 ml) of the reserved cooking liquid through the feed tube. Stop the machine and check the puree, it should be light and thin, but thick enough to hold its shape. Add a little more of the liquid if necessary. Process the mixture 2 to 3 minutes longer, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until a fine puree forms. With the motor running, drizzle the olive oil and the lemon juice through the feed tube. With a rubber spatula, scrape the pure into a bowl.
Add the reserved whole beans, the herbs, and salt to the puree. Stir well with the rubber spatula. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or up to overnight to allow flavors to develop.
Stir 3/4 of the diced tomato into the bean dip. Taste the dip. It should primarily taste of the white beans, with accents of the herbs and lemon juice. If you feel it tasted dull, stir in a small amount of salt and lemon juice until you are happy with the flavor balance. You can also add a touch more minced herbs if you like a stronger herbal flavor.
Transfer the dip to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining diced tomato. Serve right away.
As you can see, the hummus recipe is pretty simple and straight forward but the white bean dip….well, not so much. However, it’s worth it.
As for the lavash, it was delicious. It was very easy to make and very quick too. I didn’t do any hand kneading, that’s what I have a work horse for, I mean, Kitchenaid Pro 600. As usual, I let the dough rise in the oven (turned off) with the oven light on. For toppings, I used sesame seeds, poppy seeds, cumin seeds and paprika. My favorite topping was definitely the cumin seeds. After I baked the lavash, I realized that once I had put the toppings on, I should have ran the rolling pin over it a couple of times just to press the seeds into the dough and prevent most of them from falling off later on.
For the lavash recipe, visit the hostess’ blog Musings from the Fishbowl.