A few weeks ago I was trying to think of what to bring to a potluck and decided to just go get some weird things from Jon's, the fantastic supermarket down the street from me that carries many unusual Middle Eastern and Eastern European products. As a sampling:
Pickled Patty Pan Squash from Poland
Eggplant Spread from Armenia
Marinated Tiny Mushrooms from Russia
Sometimes the weird thing in a jar is a bust, as it was in the case of the pickled chili mango from India (which smells like rancid whiskey). But you don't know unless you try! The eggplant paste and the squash pickles were great! And I love how simple some of the products are--no preservatives here:
Anyway, to go with the eggplant paste, I decided to make the olive oil crackers posted on 101cookbooks--they were great.
Olive Oil Crackers
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
InstructionsMix and then knead by hand on a floured counter-top. The dough should be just a bit tacky - not too dry, not too sticky to work with. If you need to add a bit more water (or flour) do so.
When you are done mixing, shape the dough into a large ball. Now cut into twelve equal-sized pieces. Gently rub each piece with a bit of olive oil, shape into a small ball and place on a plate. Cover with a clean dishtowel or plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 - 60 minutes.
While the dough is resting, preheat your oven to 450F degrees. Insert a pizza stone if you have one, or a baking sheet.
When the dough is done resting, flatten one dough ball. Using a rolling pin shape into a flat strip of dough. Pull the dough out a bit thinner by hand (the way you might pull pizza dough). Set dough on a floured (or cornmeal dusted) baking sheet, poke each cracker with the tines of a fork to prevent puffing, add any extra toppings, and slide into the oven (onto the pizza stone). Repeat the process for the remaining dough balls, baking in small batches. If you don't have a pizza stone, bake crackers a few at a time on baking sheets. Bake until deeply golden, and let cool before eating - you will get more crackery snap.
Makes a dozen extra large crackers.
The recipe ended up making a TON of crackers, and I had some balls of dough left over that I refrigerated for a few days. Then, I made it into pies!
Why is it that certain foods are just fun? Pies, sushi, things like dumplings or wontons... is it the fact that separate ingredients have been refashioned into one coherent object, rather than just a pot or bowl of slop? There's something about discrete units of food that charms, and little pies are no exception.
I sauteed onion, garlic, tempeh, carrots, peas, and zucchini, with thyme, tamari and a ground chipotle pepper. I rolled out the dough as before, but not quite as thin. I placed (now somewhat cool) filling on half of the dough, folded it over, and sealed the edges by folding them over again and pressing them together. I brushed them and a cookie sheet with oil and baked them at a medium temperature (350?) until browned and warmed through. I ate them with salsa verde and avocado, but I think next time I would make a spicy mustard sauce. These pies were a bit culturally confused (a chipotle-tempeh samosa? or pasty?), but they were tasty!