Sunday, August 16, 2009

Super-Fiber Flatbread and Smoked Paprika Hummus

I've been meaning to talk about paprika for a while -- it's one of my favorite ingredients, and it has such a weak reputation because of the oodles of cheap, almost flavorless paprikas available in bulk on the market, crowding out the more pricey stuff that's actually worth buying. I even thought, until I saw Wolfgang Puck make chicken paprikás on tv a few years ago, that paprika's only real culinary role was to add a maroonish color to food or to perhaps garnish dishes like potato or maccaroni salads -- pretty but flavorless. Momentum and thriftiness kept me from buying any real paprika for years to follow, though my interests went up and up every time I'd look at the nice stuff in fancy little metal cans at the upscale grocery stores I was increasingly loving to frequent (Whole Foods Market, you'd be on here in a position of glory if there was one of you within a two-hour drive of where I live... please come to Knoxville or Maryville... you'd make a million dollars (off of me alone!)).

Anyway, I used beautiful bittersweet paprika to make lovely hummus and paired it with some lovely little super-high-fiber flatbreads/pitas:
super-fiber flatbread or pita with smoked paprika hummusYum! The hummus was the easier of the two parts to make, although both were quite simple.

  • One can of garbanzo beans, rinsed well;
  • One small clove of garlic;
  • One teaspoon of unhulled sesame seeds;
  • One pinch of whole cumin seeds;
  • One turn of a black pepper mill;
  • One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil;
  • The juice of half a lemon;
  • About a quarter teaspoon (I think) of sea salt -- be conservative, you can add but cannot remove;
  • About a half teaspoon of bittersweet smoked paprika;
  • A little water to make it go;
  • About a quarter teaspoon of sweet paprika for garnish.
Take all of the completely dry ingredients and add them to a food processor and process until it starts to get smooth. That takes a while and isn't going to satisfy you all the way. Don't fuss. Then add the beans and the liquids, holding back on the water, and run it again. If it's flowing smoothly and mixing well, don't add water. If it's too thick (and therefore not blending well), add some water, maybe a tablespoon -- be conservative, you can always add more. Let it run and run and run until it's smooth (five minutes or so, which seems like a long time to let your food processor run... you might have to do it in stages and let the little electric motor inside cool off depending on the power and quality of your food processor -- if you burn it up, you're doing it all with a mortar and pestle the old-fashioned way... have fun with that). Put it in a bowl and check for seasoning. Add more salt if necessary (be conservative at first with the salt, and your life will be better). Let that stand to let the flavors marry. I made this, by the way, while the flatbread dough was rising.

For the flatbread, I made a proper dough. The main motivation for this dish, actually, is that sourdough starter is a bit of a chore sometimes. I had to make bread or throw some of it away. My starter is still wimpy, so I had to add yeast, which is fine anyway because it speeds the process up. I used almost a cup and a half of starter, about two cups or so of flour, half being unbleached all-purpose and half being 100% whole wheat flour, and then I added the super-fiber ingredients: extra wheat bran (about a tablespoon) and psyllium seed husk powder (about half a cup!!!). To that, I added half a cup of warm water with a teaspoon of proofed yeast, two teaspoons of evaporated cane juice (hippy sugar), and a healthy pinch of salt. Because of my secret bent to add Chinese tonic herbalism when and where I can, I also added a teaspoon of astragalus root powder, though that ingredient is definitely 100% optional.

I mixed the dough until it was smoothish and rolled it out of the bowl and onto the counter. Then I kneaded it for about twenty minutes, turning it a quarter turn and pushing down three or four times, folding it in half, turning it a quarter turn, pushing down three or four times, etc., and then oiled the doughball and put it into an oiled bowl. Once in there, I covered it with a slightly damp towel and let it rise in a nice warm place (all places are warm this time of year -- we're very conservative with our air conditioning) for a bit over an hour, until it doubled. Then I punched it down, rolled it out onto the counter, kneaded it again for about three minutes to redistribute the ingredients, and cut it into sixteen pieces of roughly equal size. Those I formed into little balls and then rolled out into flatbreads using the side of a bottle. I'd roll out as many as I could fit in my quite-hot skillet, and then while those were cooking, I'd roll out the next ones.

rolling out flatbread or pita dough with a bottle as a rolling pinHere's the dough in three stages with the bottle I was using as a rolling pin: little balls (in the back), squashed little balls (further forward), and flatbreads (obvious).

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One Sassy Girl said...

I love paprika too. Very little makes it past my stove without at least a dash in it. I like your hummus recipe... sesame seeds? I dig it. Plan on trying it soon.

Carol said...

What a great intro to paprika, I use it so seldom but am going to expand my world. Thanks, Love reading your blog.

Jim said...

Good paprika is lovely stuff! It really makes me wonder what exactly it is in those little fifty-cent shakers of it, because I don't think it's really paprika at all.

Incidentally, the smoked paprika is incredibly good in scrambled eggs, especially if they happen to be scrambled eggs with bacon in them.