The name of this crispy flatbread brings to (my addled) mind a magician whisking away a scarf to reveal a not entirely unexpected bunny . It is sort of a combination of "whoosh" and "voila!" I'm tempted to cry, "Lavosh!" when setting it out. Fortunately, my friends are pretty tolerant.
Neither magic nor trickery is required to produce this take on the traditional Armenian giant cracker. All you need are a few basic ingredients probably on hand, and the Nick Malgieri recipe from the recent A Baker's Tour. Lavosh is sometimes dampened and rolled around fillings to create the currently popular "wraps." Mr. Malgieri prefers the crispy version, and I like it too.
I thought I would make some to have with my Ispanakhi Pkhali (hereinafter "I.P."-it's hard keeping all those consonants straight). The Lavosh is Armenian in origin and the I.P. is Georgian, but they seem to me to be perfect for one another. According to both Julianne Margvelashvili and Anya von Bremzen, I.P. is one of a number of single vegetable pates or dips, each having its own characteristic seasoning and garnishes, but all conveniently made with the same spiced walnut/garlic base. At a traditional Georgian party, additional pates would have been set out, feauring eggplant, beets, or some other veg.
My I.P. is a combination and adaptation of both of theirs. It should probably not be made entirely in a food processor, though the paste is best done in one. As to the rest, I used the grinder attachment to my kitchenaid, having read that the original was done with a meat grinder. Fine hand chopping of the veg is also an option. but I'd try the food processor anyway, if I was short on time and/or grinderless. You are going for an even texture, but not too, too fine, or a total paste. Pulse the processor, I think, with the spinach, if you use one.
spinach 1 lb, washed
walnuts, chopped 3/8 cup
garlic 1 large clove
dried coriander (or khemeli suneli) 1/2 tsp
small onion chopped 1
chopped cilantro 1/4 cup
salt and vinegar to taste
hungarian paprika 1/4tsp
Cook spinach until leaves are just wilted. Drain, cool, and squeeze out as much water as you can. In a food processor or coffee grinder, grind walnuts, garlic and dried coriander to a paste. Run the spinach, cilantro, and onion through a meat grinder, or chop very, very finely. Combine with walnut paste in a bowl with your fingertips, mixing thoroughly and adding salt, vinegar and paprika to taste. cover bowl and leave at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours, then store in fridge. When ready to serve, form into a thick pancake shape on a small plate. Score crosswise, with a knife. Garnish with pomegranite seeds, if you have some. (I didn't, but wouldn't it be pretty?)
Note: It is very important to leave this at room temperature for an hour or two after mixing. This is necessary for the taming of the raw garlic , and the melding of flavors. Keeps several days in fridge.
I am a fan of crispy breads and crackers, and there are a great many store-bought crackers and crisp flatbreads I like, but this lavosh is sooo easy to make, and I think it is superior to most of them. It is not that it is unusual. Rather, it is the plain, perfect freshness of the floury saltiness which is so nice. It makes me think that even pretty fresh store-bought crackers are a bit old. Around here,at least, bakeries do not sell freshly baked crackers. A big plus for cracker lovers, is that the cook gets to munch on warmish bits, while shattering the baked sheets . This is wonderful stuff cooled, but warm-even better.
unbleached all purpose flour 3 1/4 cups
salt 1 1/2 tsps
water-very warm 1 cup
dry yeast 2 1/2 tspolive oil 1/4 cup
sugar 1 tsp
Stir the flour and salt together in the bowl of your stand mixer. Dissolve the yeast in the water, and whisk in the rest of the ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, an stir in until all is moistened and shaggy. Put the bowl on the mixer, and knead with the dough hook for 2 minutes. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes, then mix 2 more minutes. Put in an oiled bowl. flip the dough to coat the other side with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until double-about an hour.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F, and line 3 cookie pans with parchment or silpats.
Divide risen dough into 3 parts, and roll each out on a floured surface, as thin as you can, to about the size of rthe pans. Transfer to the baking pans, and with scissors, trim off the edges, where it will be thicker. Poke the surfaces all over with a fork, and bake each about 20 minutes until golden and crisp. Cool, and break sheets into largish irregular shards. Keep in a covered container. If they lose crispiness, you can reheat a few minutes to crisp them up.
In addition to being delicious with middle eastern dips and spreads, these make dynamite aberrant nachos. You can scatter bits of cheese -such as my current favorite for this- a crumbly cheddar with mustard seeds, all over a few of these big crackers, then broil, or even nuke them-a good, if weird lunch with fruit for dessert.
I'm thinking about trying to make some other crackery breads in the future- good with salads, or eggs, and stews with lots of juices, too. They pack pretty well for lunches.