Lavash crackers qui rit (and crockpot hummus)

Oh. Hello. You might remember me from such diverse posts as Xinjiang Noodle Dough Tacos and Xinjiang Noodle Dough Pierogies.  I’ve been slightly out of commission recently, what with suddenly having 5 jobs and all.

I must say, it sure is a lot easier to cook when 1. you’re actually at home (I’ve been either in Hangzhou or down in Xinzhuang and Qibao in deepest, darkest South Shanghai for much of the past month) and 2. not up to your ears in new and scary work projects with terrifying deadlines.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been living on crock pot soup, take away pizza, and neighbourhood Hunan restaurant yummies.  My drafts folder here doubled in size, full of links and titles but no actual finished product. No time.  Also, no energy.

Today, for the first day in yonks, I didn’t have to go somewhere immediately to do something workish (that would be scheduled for this afternoon). I cleaned the flat, drank 2 pots of coffee, and made lavash crackers and hummus. By hand. Which is still cramped.

If you have a potato masher or a food processor, use them. Forks HURT after five minutes of mashing chickpeas. Just so you know.

Anyway, they turned out very nicely. If I were to make the crackers again, I’d roll them out a lot more thinly, as the crispy bits are better than the chewy bits (but still, no complaints).  I had been aiming for the chewy, puffy lavash I remembered from Turkey (the kind that puffed up like a hot blowfish, studded with black sesame) but it turned out a bit heavier than expected. Also, if I had any of the roasted garlic oil left, I’d totally use it (and the garlic) in the hummus.

Both the hummus and the lavash passed the Doug test though. I could hear his approval from the other side of the flat. I had a big plate of it for my lunch and it was, indeed, tasty.

Let’s start with the cracker bit. I got the recipe here.

 

LAVASH CRACKERS
Makes 2 sheetpans of crackers

1 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used kosher)
1/2 teaspoon yeast (I used instant- not sure it was right as it didn’t puff)
1 tablespoon agave syrup or sugar (I used standard Chinese dark brown granulated sugar)
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used sunflower)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, room temp
Any toppings you want, such as poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, kosher salt, etc.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/170C.

 

I recently found organic bread flour, quite reasonably priced (20-25 or so rmb, I think) at Pines on Anfu lu. This stuff is made in Hebei (aka 河北/North He/North River), which is interesting as I have done work in Henan (河南/South He/South River) and it’s polluted as all get out. Curious to see if this is really really organic or just optimistically organic. Like, the first foot or so of soil is organic, even if the air is awful (Zhengzhou was brutal on my lungs, with daunting smog). I must remember to ask Kelly Sandor if Hebei is a feasible organic region.

The organic flour’s from Hebei. Who knew?

Anyway.

In a big mixing bowl, throw in the flour, yeast, sugar, salt. Mix them together. Unclump the sugar as required.

The pig spatula really doesn’t know what to make of all this.

Stir in the water to make a dough, then turn it out onto a floured countertop or board or whatever makes you happy. Knead it until it’s like a baby’s bottom- about 5 minutes. Ball it up and oil it so it doesn’t dry out. Let it rest for about 90 minutes, or overnight somewhere cooler. I put mine in the rice cooker bowl and covered it loosely with a tea towel.

I don’t have a picture of the mixing or kneading because it was waaaay too messy

Liberally flour up your cutting board/countertop. Cut the slightly puffier ball of dough in half and form it into a rough rectangle. Don’t do as I did, as I ended up with a weirdly shaped oval.

Rather ugly blob of dough after 90 minutes

Roll it out with a rolling pin, dusting with flour as needed, until quite thin. Think, cracker thin. Then go thinner. Think  Wheat Thins thin.

Also, don’t forget to preheat that oven.

Oh, and get a baking sheet out. Mine, alas, is round and not rectangular, which makes it a bit awkward to make a rectangular sheet of cracker. I did, however, come equipped with parchment paper this time (no more oiling up notebook paper!). I finally tracked it down, thanks to the lovely Fiona‘s tips.

This is what parchment paper looks like in China.

Parchment paper, at last! (though the package shows it used to wrap steamed dumpling’ish things)

Carefully place your rolled out dough onto the parchmented baking sheet. Assemble your sprinkles. I used kosher salt, fresh rosemary from our windowsill herb factory, and ground Kampot black pepper (from our kilo bag bought in Cambodia last year).

Revitalized mint (with mint babies budding) on left, rosemary on right

Oil up your cracker dough, ever so lightly. Enough to give it a sheen rather than a slick. Sprinkle it with savoury goodness, then with fingertips, massage your sprinkles into the dough. Press press press.

First half of dough rolled out, oiled, salted, peppered and rosemary’d

Bake in the middle rack for 15-20 minutes.

The bottom lavash was thicker and chewier; the top one was rolled out thinner. The top one, I think, was better.

Um, no, I didn’t test one before it was cool…

 

Oh. And the hummus.

 

This was based on hummus I used to make back home. It’s very intuitive, measurement-wise. I’ll give you a rough idea.

You’ll need:

  1. chickpeas (I used dried ones from Metro), about a cup
  2. oil
  3. garlic
  4. something citric- lemon or lime (I used one lime)
  5. salt and pepper

 

If you have tahini, go for it. Add to taste.

First, get them chickpeas cooked, if they aren’t already (tinned ones are an overpriced luxury item here).

I did them in the crock pot, with about 4 inches of water. I think it took about 2.5 hours on high. Boil until soft enough to eat. It really depends on your cooker.

A whole big mess o’chick peas, enough to cover the bottom of the pot.

Drain. You can leave a little chickpea water in the pot, as it will need some liquid when mashed. I kept about 1/4 cup.

I cooked them until they were done. That’s as much as I can tell you.

I minced most of a garlic for this. Again, adjust to taste. More garlic, in general, equals more better. You may disagree.

I would have used the whole garlic but I was tired and lazy. This is about 75% of a head.

Toss the garlic into the bowl, along with a few table spoons of oil to begin with. You will add more as you go along, as the more mashed the chickpeas are, the more you’ll need to grease up their insides.  I think I added about 4 or 5 splashes of oil in total (about 1 tbs each).  You may need more or less.  Taste it to see if the texture pleases you: if it’s too grainy, add oil.

Also, throw in the juice of a lemon or lime. And some salt and pepper.

Get a mashing implement out.  Or a Kitchen Aid.

Unfortunately, I had but a fork. I mashed every single one of those little buggers.

If you have a food processor, use it. Finger cramps big time.

About ten minutes later.

Ow.

Mash mash mash mash mash mash mash oh for feck’s sake mash mash mash

But look! It turned out brilliantly! Lunch of champions!

Look! Crackers and hummus! Well, flat bread and hummus, anyway.

PS In case you didn’t get the very bad pun in the title, see here.

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11 Comments

  1. Martin says:

    A really lovely snack you did there. I like such simple things, and humus is also one of my favorites with that hint of garlic in it. If we have no tahini, we often mixed it with some additional garlic, some green chili and/or dried shrimps, all roasted untily crunchy in a spoonful of extra oil. Just delicious!… BTW, just because you mentioned cramped fingers: If I had no food processor and there’s time enough, I’d soak the chickpeas for a few hours in cold water before cooking rather than to boil the poor things to hell for half an afternoon. Just so much better to keep more of the healthy substances alive… 🙂

    PS: Did you already finish this SHA tour app? I mean, in terms of: Can you tell me where it is/will be published?

    1. MaryAnne says:

      The chickpeas weren’t too boiled to death- the slow cooker does things at a fairly relaxed pace 😉 I’d say one hour was getting it up to boiling and the second hour was simmering them. They came out quite nicely. I normally soak beans and whatnot overnight but this was an impulsive venture so no time for that.

      I like the idea of adding roasted green chilies. Must try that next time. I definitely like the oil and garlic!

      The Shanghai apps are nearly out. They want to wait until my Communist one is done (hopefully this month, so busy!!) then bundle it up with the Old Town and French Concession ones, under a general 3 for 1 Shanghai deal. I’ll have a giveaway when they’re done, as they’re giving me a bunch of free ones to promote the tours with on my blogs.

  2. TracyAnn0312 says:

    I love the lavash crackers you created. What kind of herb have you add in the crackers. I bookmarked the recipe and maybe I will try to make.

    1. MaryAnne says:

      Rosemary, from my windowsill herb garden. It’s listed in the recipe.

  3. TracyAnn0312 says:

    Then maybe I should thank you for replying my comment also I want to apologize for not seeing the rosemary in the recipe because my eyes is blurry.
    TracyAnn0312 recently posted..לימודי אילוף כלביםMy Profile

  4. Ashley says:

    Those lavash crackers looks nice, although I would also prefer them to be on the crispy side.

  5. Rachel says:

    I had to say it out loud to get the pun. I knew what you were aiming at, but as I’m cold/flu-ish, by head is slow. Apparently the ear is quicker than the mind. Well. really it’s that i knew there was a reference to cheese, but I forgot that it was La Vache qui rit until i SAID it…

  6. Alysse says:

    Looks delish and seems easy enough to try! I love hummus and as for the crackers, i prefer it crispy.

  7. mjskit says:

    Making your own crackers is such a special treat! However, I did learn the same thing – you have to roll them out really, really thin! I love these lavash crackers! Gotta give them a go! However, I’ll bypass making hummus with a fork!!!! 🙂 That’s just masochistic!!!Love the recipe, but I would definitely use a blender!
    mjskit recently posted..Breakfast TostadaMy Profile

  8. I’m impressed by your perseverance, both in the rolling and the mashing! I’m sure I should try again on homemade crackers– I’ve learned that they don’t turn out well when you roll them out unevenly.
    Mary@FitandFed.net recently posted..Food Processor Pizza Dough with White Whole Wheat FlourMy Profile

    1. MaryAnne says:

      One of these days I’ll invest in a food processor! And yeah, the crackers need a few more attempts before they are perfect and crispy… They were nice enough to try again, and I know now to roll them out far thinner than common sense dictates!

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