September 27, 2008

DB Lavash Crackers w/ Moroccan Carrot Dip

Hoorah! This month's Daring Bakers Challenge is a savory recipe and one intentionally vegan. Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and Shel, of Musings from the Fishbowl chose Lavash Crackers from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I was thrilled that Shelly was co-host this month. I discovered Shelly's site through the Daring Bakers. As a vegan she is a fellow alternative baker. How could I not fall in love! She's a former Michigander and a vegan living in France. In 1995, I travelled to France with a friend and at the time I was a vegetarian. Zut alors, was that a challenge! I lived on beet salads, brie on baguettes and fries (which were so good they were probably cooked in animal fat.) Anyway, I have the utmost admiration for Shelly's commitment to being vegan. She's been doing raw food Thursdays lately and I love the recipes she tries.

To go with the crackers we were told to provide a recipe for a vegan and gluten-free dip. I heard about the challenge shortly after having dinner at our builder's house. The meal was wonderful and included a fantastic curried carrot dip. Our builder Jen gave me a copy of the original recipe and her tip for substituting roasted garlic. Of course, I couldn't resist messing with it further and using Ras el Hanout in place of the curry powder. I acquired this Moroccan spice blend recently in an attempt to further complete my Omnivore's 100 list. Both the Ras el Hanout and the curry are great in this spicy, flavorful dip. I added the pomegranate seeds as garnish but they provide an extra tangy burst and are worth getting for more than just looks. For my version of the lavash crackers I kept it simple with a small amount of whole wheat flour and sprinkle of fleur de sel on top. I think they would also be good with a tiny bit of cumin mixed with the salt. Here are my recipes:

Lavash Crackers with a touch of whole wheat
Based on the recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice, rewritten with my changes
Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

1 cup bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup (4 oz) water, at room temperature (+/- 2 tablespoons)
fleur de sel
other spices, optional

-Stir together the ingredients in a bowl. Add the water slowly and only as much as you need to get a workable dough.
-Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
-Allow to rest at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size.
-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
-Spread a small amount of oil on a clean counter top and place the dough on the oiled portion.
-Dust the top of the dough lightly with flour and roll out as thinly as possible, aim for a 12 inch by 15 inch rectangle.
-Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, covered with a towel or plastic wrap.
-Carefully lift the dough and lay it on the parchment lined baking sheet.
-Brush the top with a very small amount of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with the fleur de sel (and optional spices.) You can precut the crackers but 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 whole.
-Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top.
-Allow the crackers to cool in the pan and then snap on your scoring or break into shards.
-Serve with dip.

Moroccan Carrot Dip

Moroccan Carrot Dip
based on a recipe found in Domino magazine
Makes ~2 cups

1 1/4 lb peeled carrots (~4 cups of 1 inch pieces)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon roasted garlic paste*
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout (or substitute curry powder)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/8 cup fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste (I use cayenne to taste, not black pepper)
pomegranate seeds
*How I roast garlic: Slice a head of garlic in half, sprinkle the interior with salt and olive oil and tightly enclose in aluminum foil. Roast at 400 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until light golden in color.

-Boil the carrots in salted water until soft. Taste the water, it should taste like tears.
-Process the carrots, vinegar, oil, garlic, ginger and spice until smooth. Then add the herbs and process until finely chopped and evenly distributed. Taste for seasoning.
-Garnish before serving with pomegranate seeds and serve with lavash crackers from the Daring Bakers Challenge. The dip was good made ahead of time as the flavors meld further.

For a gluten-free version of the Lavash Cracker recipe visit Gluten A Go Go.
Check out all of the other completed challenges by looking through the
Daring Bakers Blogroll.

*Thanks to Shelly and Natalie for a great challenge and to Jen for the carrot dip recipe!