Tuesday, March 26, 2013

my first recipe post: flatbread and hummus

one of the biggest challenges of homemaking, regardless of how big your family is or much money you have, is finding the balance between feeding your family what you know theyre supposed to eat, and feeding them food that they will actually eat. throw a tight budget, a vegetarian, and a picky toddler into the mix and the results can get really repetitive and discouraging. 

one meal that all three of us particularly enjoy is hummus with some kind of flatbread and veggies. its a delicious, filling, healthy meal. you could buy hummus and flatbread from trader joes for around $3-4 each ($5-6 each at a "regular" grocery store) and its a pretty cheap dinner, but by investing in a couple key ingredients, its much cheaper to make it at home. 

(note: ive never done much recipe sharing and dont exactly cook with precise measurements, so please bear with me and dont hesitate to let me know if my directions are unclear of my methods dont work for you. also, my kitchen is tiny and hideous so please excuse the lack of step-by-step process pictures)

usually i make the dough first, and make the hummus, prep the veggies, and wash the dishes while its rising, so ill start with the bread. im not exactly sure where this recipe originally came from, but i do vividly remember having it at a friends house as a small child and having my mom get the recipe so we could have it at home too. here it is:

(serves 3-4 as a meal, more for a snack. i'm pretty sure i actually doubled the original recipes but im not 100% sure) 

1 tablespoon active dry yeast (dont buy the little packets! you can get pretty much a lifetime supply in the baking aisle of your warehouse store of choice for about $6)
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup olive oil, plus a bit more for rising and frying
1 teaspoon salt, plus more if you want it as a topping
3 cups flour, give or take, plus some extra for rolling

start by dissolving the yeast in the warm water, and let it sit until the yeast begins to foam (this takes about five minutes, longer if its cold or you live on top of a mountain). 
when the yeast water is foamy, add the olive oil and salt, and GRADUALLY begin to mix in the flour (1/2 cup at a time works pretty well for me, this is where i highly recommend investing in a kitchenaid stand mixer). 
once all the flour in mixed in and your dough looks like dough, youll need to knead it until its smooth and stretchy, this takes 7 or 8 minutes (if youre using a kitchenaid, switch to your dough hook, if not, im sorry).
now your dough needs to rise in a covered, oiled bowl until double, about 45 minutes. 
when its done rising, roll small handfuls of dough flat and fry in a little olive oil, until each side is toasted and the middle isnt doughy anymore. 
if you sprinkle it with a little more salt while its frying it kind of tastes like a pretzel, but thats entirely optional. 
serve warm. 

now for the hummus, i didnt start making hummus until after i was married and lived in the middle of nowhere arizona, where there was no trader joes and the only hummus for miles was $5 mediocre grocery store hummus. this recipe came out of trial and error, and is entirely customizable to suit your tastes, i highly recommend playing around with it until you find what kind of hummus you like best. (you could even add other ingredients for flavor, like artichoke hearts or chipotle peppers, but in that case you might want to use a little less garlic)

(makes somewhere around 2-3 cups of hummus, about the amount in a regularly sized store bought hummus package)

4-5 cloves of garlic 
1/4 cup olive oil
1 15oz can of garbanzo beans 
1-2 tablespoons tahini paste (this is the expensive part, its $6-7 dollars and hidden in the jewish section of the grocery store, but it lasts a long time)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup water

start by finely chopping the garlic and soaking it in the olive oil for about 5-10 minutes (yes, this step is necessary)
once thats done, add it and all the other ingredients (except the water) into a food processor (you could also use a blender if you dont have a food processor, we didnt have one for a really long time) 
add the water one tablespoon at a time until youve reached your desired consistency. 
if you have any additional ingredients to add, you can do it here. 

you can serve this by itself as a snack, but i usually make a dinner out of it by adding some carrot sticks and sliced cucumbers. (cucumbers havent been on sale in a while so this week we had to do without, though). 

this is also a really cheap dinner, since most of the ingredients are basic pantry staples (at least for us), and the beans and veggies usually go on sale really cheap. the only expensive thing is the tahini, but since you only use a tiny bit, one can makes many, MANY batches of hummus. 

this is one of very few dinners that alice eats without complaint, it might even be her favorite. at lease, i usually cant get her to take a happy picture during dinner time. 

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