Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lavash Alone

Though for the past two evenings I've done nothing to prepare for Sunday's open house, I took a vacation day today to catch up and give it my full attention.

I started the day with a trip to the grocery store for produce and other items, followed by a visit to the local deli to pick up my order of cheeses, dips, and sundry goodies. (They do take care of me there!) Then I cranked up the oven and started baking.

First off, I made a batch of flavorful flax seed crackers. I had intended to make sesame crackers but realized at the last minute that I had no sesame seeds, so I simply substituted the flax (which I like just as well, if not more, for its nutty taste). I still used toasted sesame oil in the dough, so the crackers have a hearty edge to them that will stand up well to the cheeses I've selected.

After a hike, a swim, and a nourishing lunch, I got back to work and made dough for lavash crackers. The differences between lavash and regular crackers include the fact that lavash comes from a yeast dough (similar to pita) and that I usually break up lavash crackers into free-form shapes instead of cutting them out. Both are remarkably easy, however, and once the lavash dough has risen, you simply roll it out into thin sheets that you then stretch across a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Twenty minutes or so later, the dough sheet is brittle and easily broken into smaller, bite-size pieces or wedges perfect for dipping.

The lavash will take on any number of toppings, from salt and pepper to various herbs to a sprinkling of seeds, for this batch, I limited myself to a faint sprinkle of paprika or nothing at all, knowing that I wanted the dips I'd make to shine forth.

And what dips will be on the table come Sunday? I've picked up two favorites from the deli –- artichoke-Asiago and spinach –- and I intend to make a batch of muhammara this evening (using a few of the softer pieces of fresh lavash) and haydari on Saturday.

And that selection is all it's crackered up to be.


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