Wednesday, September 14

Kitchen Pen Pals: Flatbread with Coriander & Lemon Butterbean Hummus

Two girls. Two countries. One recipe. Here we go! Siân emailed me my first recipe yesterday. I must admit, as soon I saw there was yeast involved, I had a mild panic attack. "Where in the world does one buy yeast from?" I thought. Also, I didn't know you could buy actual "fine sea salt." The thought of me kneading dough was down right hysterical but Siân assured me these flatbreads would be a doddle to make. Fancy a peek at the recipe below? Peek away friends!

So off I went to Spar clutching my recipe! I must say, it was quite nice being able to walk around the store with a plan. Usually I just wander around aimlessly like a bewildered kid. A couple of lols along the way - I nearly started cursing Spar for not having any Parsley or Coriander. Then I discovered they have great big troughs of the stuff a little further from the neatly bagged herbs. I had no idea what to do with the herbs so I asked the Fruit and Veg lady if I had to weigh it. She replied, 'No dear, you buy it by the bunch.' Who knew! I wasn't sure what to do with handfuls of greenery so I stuffed 'em into those plastic packets you put potatoes in. I didn't see anyone else do that but you surely can't chuck fresh herbs into a minging basket! Oh, and the flour. I must have manhandled just about every brand and type on the shelf! Finally I found a brown bag of organic looking stuff and hoped to heck it was 'unbleached.' Oh, and yeast comes in tiny purple packets - not giant ones like flour!

Usually I hate it when people take nosey peeks into my basket at the till (the shame of the Caremello Bears etc) but I was feeling quite proud yesterday! The little voice in my head was saying, 'Yeah, check out this yeast. I'm gonna bake actual bread from scratch when I get home! There's gonna be a whole lotta kneading going on.' Dare I say, a vision of me and James Martin chuckling over a mound of dough flashed before my eyes!

The whole lot (including Olive Oil and other things that regular cooking folk probably have to hand) came to about 80 bucks. Not bad considering I wasn't going to use 'em all up in one meal. But onto the cooking! I have scribbled in purple next to the steps below so let's continue this thesis of a post!

Le Recipe

200g unbleached strong white bread flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/3 level teaspoon dried yeast
170ml tepid water (I used cold tap water - Soz Siân! Guess I should have run warm water in hindsight.)
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 230C

Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Dissolve the yeast in the water (woops, forgot to dissolve!) and then pour the oil into the water. Now pour the water into the flour, a bit at a time, while mixing. (I used a whisk. Bad call! But my wooden spoon was caked in scone mix. Scandalous!) When all the water is added, transfer to a floured board and knead well. Continue kneading for about 5 minutes until the dough is ever so slightly tacky, but soft, elastic and smooth. (That's alot of adjectives! Wasn't sure what 'tacky' is supposed to feel like but hopefully that's what it became.) Let it rest for 45 minutes covered by a tea towel. (Emailed Siân and said I was too hungry to wait that long. She said 20 minutes would be fine. Excellent! Also, bought a new tea towel. Was certain mine were too toxic for such a delicate task!)

Divide the dough into four, and roll into balls. On a generously floured surface roll each ball to 3-5mm thick. You should have rough circles 15-20cm in diameter. (I don't know if I duffed my dough but it was kinda hard to flatten it out but I think it flat enough.) Top each round with a little olive oil. (Just realised I didn't do that!) Place on a flat oiled baking tray and bake in the top of the oven for 5-10 minutes. Each bread should partially bubble up and colour slightly yet not be totally crisp. (One of mine started to resemble a vet koek more than a flat bread but hey ho!)

These can also be made on a stovetop. Fry each bread in a little butter until golden bubbles form on each side.

Le Hummus

1 x can butter beans ( I went with Koo - 12 Ronds - because I figured I needed all the help I could get but the Spar brand was only 8 bucks. Any profound difference between the two? Anyone know? Please share your beany knowledge!)
1 small onion, chopped (I LOATHE CHOPPING ONIONS! I'm like Alice Cooper after one slice. All that eyeliner running down my face. Does anyone know how to prevent the waterworks or know how to get that awful onion smell off your hands?)
2 cloves garlic, crushed (Didn't have a garlic crusher so tried to smash 'em with a knife. Was a pretty futile task but got there in the end.)
15ml lemon juice (The one thing I didn't buy cuz I thought we had a full bottle but lo and behold, there was literally only 15ml left.)
50ml olive oil
2.5ml salt (Had no idea how one measures 2.5ml of salt but Siân tweeted me to say it's half a teaspoon.)
15ml finely chopped parsley (Again - the mls perplexed me. I think Siân said it's about a tablespoon. I do not own knives with the ability to finely chop things so I hacked about a tablespoon's worth of herbs -  maybe a bit more.)
15ml chopped coriander (ditto)

Saute the chopped onion until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add the drained beans and simmer for 5 minutes or until warmed through.
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (CRISIS. Do not own a blender! Siân said I could mash forth with a potato masher. Nothing like a chunk of straight garlic in one's hummus - haha!) Remind me to tell you about the time Cath and I attempted to make Nougatini's in her blender. Oh the lols. And blade destruction. And yes, that would be a Nougat cocktail - delish!

So yeah, the whole fandango was quite an amusing education! After I made the hummus, I chucked it in the fridge for a bit. I think one is meant to cut the flatbreads and dip them into the hummus but after the no-blender debacle, I decided to slather my chunky dip onto the breads. They were surprisingly moreish and tasty! "Surprisingly" because I was expecting my version to be a bit of an inedible mess. I did look at the flour-covered kitchen to ponder if the meal was worth the effort but then I decided, hell I kneaded my own flatbreads - the mess is worth it!

Are you still awake? Anyone still reading? You're a sport if you are! Siân will try to post her version of this recipe too so do keep an eye on her blog. I'm so chuffed to have made a Pen Pal in Siân. Thanks friend! And thanks to Craig for snapping some of these pics, indulging another one of my sporadic cooking attempts and asking if there were any more flatbreads to eat!

Oh yes,  please don't hate on my irregular onion and garlic bits. I have yet to master the art of le chop!

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