Showing posts with label Crackers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Crackers. Show all posts

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Chilli con Carne and more Lavash

You know, I've always thought it strange that Chilli is a meat dish coz over here, when we say chilli, we mean the hot, spicy, burn your mouth off chilli pepper that is actually the fruit of plants from the genus capsicum. I did study Agricultural Science in secondary school so I do know what I'm talking about. (couldn't resist showing off... sorry!).

Anyway, back to Chilli con Carne. Apparently, the name comes from the Spanish Chile con Carne which means Peppers with Meat. If I was naming it, I'd have named it Meat with Peppers coz there's more meat in it than peppers right? Right?? RIGHT????

Anyway, I've always loved this dish. Heck, anything with minced beef in it has got to be good, especially when you add in tomatoes, beans and a little bit of spice! I made two measures of Lavash to go with this Chilli while the Chilli itself was made by The Lovely Wife. After my Bond story, I think she had the urge to play Tiffany Case, to my Bond...

We've both wanted to make Chilli con Carne for the longest time but she beat me to it. Her Chilli is based on the recipe from the Usbourne Little Children's Cookbook - one that we bought the kids to use but it looks like the parents are using it too!! She also had a look at a Chilli Recipe used by Chef Wan as well. This is what she did:

1 Onion
2 gloves garlic
500g minced beef
3 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 can red kidney beans - strained
1 can stewed tomaotes
2 fresh tomatoes - chopped
t Tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp brown sugar
Black Pepper

Dice onions and garlic and fry gently until tender. Add in the beef and cook until nicely browned. Stir in the chilli powder, curry powder and cumin and then add the strained kidney beans. Add in the tomatoes, sugar and herbs and black pepper and mix well. Allow to simmer until thick, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

The Chilli was really tasty and it went really, really well with the Lavash as an appetiser. We also served it with some corn chips. But I suppose the burninq question is, How did Bond like it??

Bond wiped the sides of his lips with the napkin. Gazing deeply into Tiffany's eyes, he let his gaze fall to her bosom and then down to her long legs. He let out a deep sigh before he stood up.

"Well, I hate to eat and run Tiffany, but duty calls you know." said Bond...

Saturday, 27 September 2008

James Bond - Bake another Cracker

The following story is Rated PG - Parental Guidance is Suggested.
Some material may not be suitable for Children, Prudes or Fuddy-Duddies.
[With Apologies to Ian Fleming]

“Bond, there’s this cracker called a Lavash.”

“What’s that, M?”

“Ahh Bond. If you only spent as much time watching what you eat instead of spending so much time in the company of those exotic women. Speaking of spending, you’ve almost blown the MI6 budget too.”

“It’s not my fault, M, about the women. They just throw themselves at me. Tell me more about this Lavash thing.”

“It’s never your fault Bond... You see, our sources tell us that the 'Thunderballers' are trying to monopolise making Lavash. If that happens, it can only spell doom. We've considered annihilating the 'Thunderballers' but I had a better idea. Tell you what. Why don’t you try making this Lavash. There’s nothing like hands on experience to fully master something. So run along now and try and make this.”

Sighing, he closed the door and dusted his suit. He glanced at the orders in his hand, reading it again to make sure. Indeed, he had been entrusted to make a cracker called Lavash. It didn’t matter that he had never heard of a Lavash before nor did it matter that he had never seen nor tasted one before. It was his duty to make this cracker or at the very least, attempt to make it. After all, he was the MI6’s finest. He was Bond. James Bond.

Bond looked over at the sleeping form of the lovely woman beside him. His hand hovered above her naked thigh as he briefly considered having his way with her again. He shook his head, as if to clear the filthy thoughts running through his mind. He smiled quietly to himself as he slowly climbed out of bed, careful not to wake her. Duty called and the time for pleasure could wait.

He quickly washed up and winked at the dashing reflection in the mirror. He lifted his thumb out to a 90 degree angle and raised his forefinger, making the shape of a gun. As he pulled the ‘gun’ to his chest, he whispered to his reflection: “Double O – Seven. Licence to Bake”

Bond padded downstairs and into the quiet kitchen. He measured out the flour, adding in the yeast, sugar, salt and oil into a bowl. He mixed it all together and then dumped the lot into the new multi gadget that Q had made for him. He turned it on and marvelled at how the machine seemed to stir everything together nicely into a doughy mass.

For good measure, Bond used his hands - which were more accustomed to twisting necks, breaking bones and of course teasing beautiful women - to knead the dough further. His eyebrows raised as he realised this was actually quite fulfilling in its’ own way. There was something quite pure about this, something magical in working the dough to its correct texture and suppleness.

It was time now to let the dough rest and ferment. Bond placed the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and covered it with plastic wrap. He washed his hands and patted them dry just in time as the beautiful woman he had spent the night with glided down the stairs and embraced him from behind. Bond turned, pulling her close to him and began nibbling on her ear.

“Sorry Luv, no time for that now.” She laughed, almost mockingly.

“But I’ve got 90 minutes to kill.” Bond said. “That’s more than enough time, even for me…”

She giggled as Bond smiled his most charming smile at her. His smile thinned immediately when she said. “I’d love to James darling, but I promised Mother I’d take her shopping.”

Bond watched her shapely form walk out the door with more than a tinge of regret. Still, he thought, it was for the better to have less distractions as he tried to serve Queen and Country and possibly the rest of the world too.

The 90 minutes passed by quicker than he expected. Of course, naughty thoughts of his latest conquest helped pass the time as well as the thought of being able to save the world. Sometimes, Bond wasnt quite sure which he enjoyed more. The naughty conquests or saving the world. Tough choice really...

He checked the recipe again. He needed to roll the dough out to a paper thin consistency. Bond took out his gold encrusted rolling pin that Q had provided as well with the warning to be gentle as it held an explosive device inside. Bond proceeded to roll out the dough and was kind of surprised at how well it rolled out. He managed to get it super thin and it was then time to transfer it to a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. He used a pizza cutter to make neat squares on the dough.

Bond seasoned half of the Lavash with paprika and the rest with Garlic Herb Salt. It cooked beautifully and became golden in the stipulated time. Nothing like a good set of instructions Bond thought to himself as he pulled the tray out of the oven. He felt a sense of pride as he realised he had actually completed the challenge and in the process probably saved the world.

Bond quickly checked his assignment sheet and a low growl emanated from deep within him as he realised he also needed to prepare a vegan dip.

"Egad and Curses!" He exclaimed. "I overlooked this one didn't I!"

Bond quickly surveyed his fridge and a cunning plan conjured itself in his well trained MI6 mind. He smiled to himself as he thought that his recipe reminded him of that cute Mexican girl South of the border as well as that lovely Indian lass from South India. There certainly was something to be said about girls from the South!

This is what he did:

Spicy Garlic Tomato Chutney
2 large tomatoes - diced
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
2 red chillies

Grind Onion, garlic and chillies together to form a paste. Fry with a little oil till cooked through. Add in diced tomatoes and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve Chilled.

Quickly before the scheduled arrival of M and Q, Bond broke off a piece of the Lavash and dipped it into his chutney.

"Well done, Bond." He said aloud, to no one in particular.


So much for the James Bond story and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! I enjoyed this challenge immensely too.

The verdict?
My daughter liked the crackers while my son thought it was "Hmmm..quite nice Dads." The Lovely Wife thought they were pretty amazing. She even liked my Chutney although she made it a point to mention that her Salsa would have gone down better with the Lavash. She also remarked that these crackers would be a good dish to make as a starter to completely amaze people with. I mean, who would think that I would make home made crackers huh?

That was exactly what was going through my mind. Just over a year ago, I would never, ever have considered making homemade crackers. Now? Well now I'm a Daring Baker and I've learnt, just like Bond, to Never Say Never Again! So excuse me while I relax with a Martini - shaken and not stirred!

Thanks to Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl for hosting this months challenge.

This is the recipe.

RECIPE - Recipe Reference: The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

Here's a simple formula for making snappy Armenian-style crackers, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids...It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian). The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface)...

The key to a crisp lavash, to roll out the dough paper-thin. The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking. The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
* 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
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

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 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.

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).

6. 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.

You may use your choice of topping/dip/salsa/relish/spread for your lavash crackers as long as it is vegan and gluten free.


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