Saturday, September 27, 2008

I savor breaking the rules

Well, not really. I'm a pretty straight-laced rule follower. But for this, my first (and a perhaps THE first?) savory Daring Baker's Challenge - I did indeed break the rules.

For September the Daring Bakers stepped away from desserts to make Lavash Crackers:
Salted lavash crackers with chicken livers & guacamole
and Cinnamon & Sugar lavash crackers

The first thing that came to mind when I read we were going to make crackers, was pâté. My mom and auntie used to make chopped chicken livers that they still rave about. I've been wanting to make their recipe for the past 6 months or so and just hadn't gotten around to it. So goshdarnit I was gonna make chopped chicken livers/chicken pâté to go with these crackers; Vegan Dip requirement or not!! (OK, ok I really just can't totally break the rules - I made a little vegan guacamole to feel better about myself...)

Lavash: It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian).

The Rules:
These crackers could be made vegan OR gluten-free. The recipe that I'm assuming most of us followed was the vegan recipe but host, Shelly did include a gluten-free recipe as well. Recipes were from The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart. We were given a lot of room to play in terms of how to season our crackers. They could be sweet or savory; topped with salt or spices; be thick or thin; cut nicely or broken to shards. We were asked to also create a VEGAN dip/chutney/spread to compliment the crackers.

My Spin:
Well - we already established that I broke the vegan dip rules. But I felt guilty about it and made some guacamole just before serving! Arika from My Yummy Life started the "sweet lavash" trend with some cinnamon-sugar lavash. And soon MANY of us were following her lead! They sounded great - so I added these to my repertoire as well! I kneaded about 3 tablespoons of cinnamon & sugar into the lavash dough before rolling it out, then sprinkled more over the crackers before they baked, and finally lightly spritzed the crackers with vegetable oil and tossed them in a bag with more before serving them.
What a feast! Appetizers for 4!

The Verdict:
The crackers were great. I couldn't keep my brother out of them before serving them as an appetizer last weekend. They were sorta like pita chips - especially the thickness I made mine. They were great with the pâté though I still prefer store bought crackers: lighter and buttery-er!! I did not, however, like them with the guacamole. Since I'm used to eating guacamole with chips - eating it with lavash just made me feel like I was eating stale chips! The cinnamon sugar ones were okay. Even with all the cinnamon & sugar I thought I had incorporated into/on them they still weren't all that "cinnamon-sugar-y" but I noticed that none got left behind!

They were so fast and easy to make I did an easy 2 batches in the same weekend!
Follow along with me for all the different elements!
-Salted Lavash Crackers
-Cinnamon Sugar Lavash Crackers
-Chicken Liver Pâté
-Chopped Chicken Livers

Salted Lavash Crackers:
This started like any other bread - with flour, yeast, salt, sugar and water. Mix it together, knead and let rise. Then an hour and a half later it was ready to roll out, salt (season), cut and bake! Voilà! Crackers!

This is how all bread starts -- Ready to roll! -- A few more cuts and into the oven

Cinnamon Sugar Lavash Crackers:
The cinnamon & sugar ones were done the same way except that I incorporated a few tablespoons of cinnamon and sugar into the dough as I kneaded it then sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar.

See the flecks of cinnamon? -- Two trays ready to go!

Mmm - cinnamony!

Chicken Liver Pâté:
As I started thinking about doing the chopped chicken livers my family loves I couldn't help but also think about chicken liver pâté. What was the big difference? Well since I had a pound of chicken livers to play with - I decided to find out and make some of each! I used this recipe.
All the ingredients lined up and ready to go!

Since so many of the reviews recommended increasing the Cognac, I did too. But I overdid it. I think a full tablespoon would be perfect; not the 2+ I added (one reviewer recommended 4 *gasp*!) The pâté will need to be made again sometime since the extra Cognac really ruined the flavor for me. It was okay, but not excellent.
Said it before, will say it again: I love my Cuisinart!

Chopped Chicken Livers:
This is the recipe I'd heard so much about - and it didn't let me down. It was very vaguely written so I had to use my cooking know-how to make it, but the results were wonderful! It tasted like liverwurst (I suppose "wonderful" is only a word to use if you do in fact love liverwurst as I do.)

Simpler (in this case) is better -- Cooking the livers in ~2T of butter -- Getting ready to chop

Recipe as given to me:
1 pound livers
3 hard boiled eggs

1 medium onion



Brown livers thoroughly in butter.
Put livers, eggs, onions in food processor.

Add mayonnaise as desired for consistency.

Add salt to taste and chill.

Chopped chicken livers on the left, Chicken pâté on the right

I used about 2 T of butter and honestly don't know how much mayo or salt. Just start with a small amount and add as you see fit.

"Vegan" Guacamole:
Technically this is just my trusty guacamole recipe but I decided to call out that it is vegan since, well - it is! And to also prove that I didn't break the rules ENTIRELY!

2 ripe avocados
2 tomatoes (seeds removed)
Green taco sauce
Garlic powder

Mash the avocados.
Season with taco sauce, salt and garlic powder.
Stir in cut tomatoes.
Pretty enough to eat!

Don't forget to visit all the other Daring Bakers who will also be posting about their lavash experiences today. Many of them were way more creative than I with regards to the vegan dips (and I have yet to find another who broke the rules like I did too!!) You can also find the cracker recipe on many of their blogs since I (as usual) am too lazy to include it here. See you next month my Daring Bakers!


  1. You cheater! Just kidding. Your crackers look great, the edge just makes them look perfect.

  2. Lisa, I'm not going to argue about rule-breaking when you make pate...and that guacamole looks pretty good too! Fab job as always!

  3. I can always relate to rule breakers! These look great, and yummy though.