Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Middle Eastern Not-So-Flat Breads


Lets talk about what I’ve been doing for the past, lets see, month and a half. Or more specifically, lets talk about why I haven’t been posting anything to this blog. It’s not that I haven’t been baking; my extremely bikini unfriendly body can attest to that. It’s not that I haven’t been writing either. It’s just that somehow I’ve been too overwhelmed by everything to 1) take pictures of what I bake and 2) sit down and write about it.

Here is what I have been doing since I’ve been gone:

1. Finished my senior portrait for English and my portfolio for Poetry. They’re not exactly what I wanted them to be, and nowhere near perfect, but I feel about them the way a mother must feel about her newborn child. Even now, nearly a month after I handed them in and received a grade, I will take them from my bookshelf and proudly examine their every detail. I hand-bound them, because I’m the kind of girl who refuses to use an electric mixer even for egg whites and I won’t hand over any task to Kinkos that I can do myself, and buy massive amounts of paper and ribbon to boot. If I am ever courageous and unselfish enough I may post a bit of my writing from them here. But for now I enjoy them in privacy, like a small child with a stolen piece of pie.

2. Attended prom. I knew this day would come, but that didn’t make me any more enthusiastic for it. I am not a dance person. I don’t like the music (when did it become unnecessary for a song to have a melody and intelligible lyrics and anything other than a head-ache inducing, heart-rate changing, painfully rhythmic beat?) that gets played at dances. I don’t like the hassle of buying the perfect dress. I hate high heels. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the night. The prom was held at a fancy hotel where the man at the coat-check was dressed in a vest and a bowtie and each place setting included two glasses and three forks. Afterwards my friend and I dropped our things off at my house, changed out of our dresses and cumbersome shoes, and walked through the semidarkness to the Brooklyn Bridge, where we watched the sky change from gray to green to palest blue and the sun repainted the Manhattan skyline in shades of pink and gold.

3. Graduated from high school. Unimaginable, inconceivable, and utterly mind-blowing, but there it is.

4. Thoroughly enjoyed my freedom. I have never, ever, had a summer so empty and yet so busy at the same time. Most mornings I wake up not knowing what I’ll do to fill up my day, and yet every night I drop into bed exhausted and exhilarated. It’s wonderful.

5. Reading, a lot. I was never one of those people who stopped reading during high school because she didn’t have time. But my pace definitely slowed. Fortunately, in the past few weeks I’ve taken to reading again at a breakneck speed. As in, four books over the course of one long weekend. I don’t have time or the brainpower (it’s over 90 degrees in the city and I don’t have the blessing of air conditioning) to list them. But if you haven’t read The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro, you should immediately make a trip to your local library and change that fact. It’s amazing.

Now (and you’re probably thinking “finally!”) onto the main topic of conversation: food. On the last day of school (which is either three weeks ago or an entire lifetime, depending on how you look at it) my friend and I had to bake something for a Comparative Government project. We had studied Saudi Arabia for the project, so we decided to make a Saudi flatbread called khobz. For some reason we decided it would be a good idea to make the bread the day after prom, after staying out all night and having walked a three miles to the bridge and back. Predictably, my measurements were off and I fell asleep while the bread was rising, so these aren’t flatbreads so much as they are rolls. Nevertheless, they were delicious, especially dipped in hummus brought by the group that studied Israel. I’m including recipe with my unintentional modifications.

2 cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup sesame seeds (We didn’t have sesame seeds so we replaced this with ½ cup of whole wheat flour)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp dry active yeast
1 and ½ cups warm water
½ palm-full coarse sea salt
1 palm-full chopped rosemary

Preheat your oven to 400 F.

Mix together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast with your fingers. Form a depression in the middle of the mixture and slowly add the warm water and olive oil, kneading gently for 15 minutes until the dough becomes soft and smooth. Divide the dough into three parts. Stretch and flatten each ball of dough and keep in a warm place covered with a towel for three hours. When the dough has risen, sprinkle flour over a baking sheet and place each roll on the sheet. Sprinkle the breads with seasalt and rosemary. Arrange the baking sheet in the middle of the oven and bake the bread for about thirty minutes, or until the edges of the breads become brown and crisp.

No comments:

Post a Comment