For Day 1 of #100DaysNoTV we chose an activity that we could do together with our boys. We’re a bread loving family and the boys adore putting on their aprons and getting involved in the kitchen.
Flatbreads in their simplest, unleavened, form have been a food staple for at least 10,000 years. Techniques gradually grew more sophisticated and it’s believed that the Egyptians were the first people to understand how to incorporate yeast, around 5,000 years ago. Bread was incredibly important to ancient civilisations. It was often used as currency and even accompanied the dead as grave goods for the afterlife.
A FLATBREAD IS A FLATBREAD, RIGHT?
Not really – there are countless variations and styles. I searched for flatbread recipes online and quickly became overwhelmed. There are different cultural versions which agree on most of the ingredients, but have subtle differences, such as the ingredient quantities, the type of flour and the methods used to prepare and cook the flatbreads.
In the end Rob and I chose to base our flatbreads on a version from our copy of River Cottage Handbook No. 3: Bread, by Daniel Stevens. The main difference between this Turkish flatbread recipe and those from the Levant and North Africa, is the addition of yoghurt which is said to stop the flatbreads from getting too brittle.
INGREDIENTS for 8 flatbreads
250g plain white flour
250g strong white bread flour
5g dried yeast
150ml water, boiled and cooled until warm
150ml natural yoghurt at room temperature
1½ tbsp olive oil
1. Mix the flour, yeast, salt, water and yoghurt in a large bowl until all combined.
2. Add the olive oil, mix it in and then place the ball of dough onto a clean surface.
3. Knead for 10 minutes until it has a smooth surface and is free of lumps.
4. Flatten out the dough into a circle using your fingertips. Then, imagining the dough is a clock face, pinch 12 o’clock and pull that into the centre of the circle. Now do the same for 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. Turn the dough over and cup it with the inside of your hands. Pushing your left hand forward and your right hand backward, spin the dough in a circle forming a ‘round’.
5. Now pop the ‘round’ into a bowl and cover with a plastic bag. Leave to rise for around an hour, or until it doubles in size.
You can now repeat steps 4 and 5 if you have time. It improves the quality of the dough, but isn’t essential.
6. Once risen, divide your dough into 8 pieces and, using lots of flour, roll each piece to a 3-4mm thickness and then leave to rest for about 5 minutes.
7. Heat your frying pan over a very high heat and turn on your grill to high.
Your frying pan needs to have a metal handle to withstand the heat of the grill.
8. Now fry your flatbreads one at a time. When the bottom starts to brown, pop the frying pan under grill until the top of the flatbread puffs and browns.
9.VERY carefully remove the frying pan from the grill and keep the flatbread warm in a tea towel, or something similar, while you cook the rest. *
10. Finally, brush a little bit of olive oil over the top of the flatbreads to make them glisten!
* There are other cooking methods. You could fry both sides of the flatbreads or cook them in the oven. We experimented, and the frying pan and grill method worked best for us.
Flatbreads are so versatile: they can be enjoyed plain, you can top them, add a filling before or after cooking, tear it into pieces and use in dishes like fattoush, or simply tear and scoop up yummy side dishes and dips.
Today we chose to eat them with homemade hummus and tabbouleh.
With a centuries-old dish such as hummus, you’ll struggle to find two identical recipes. After researching through cookery books and online we settled on the ingredients and adapted the quantities for our taste.
Our recipe uses dried chickpeas, but canned chickpeas can be used too.
100g dried chickpeas (soaked for 8-10 hours or overnight)
2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
1 tbsp tahini (or extra olive oil)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp olive oil
100ml of the water used to cook the chickpeas (or plain water)
Salt and pepper to taste
Depending on how much you like your hummus, this should comfortably serve 4 people. Rob and I had some left over, and we ate plenty!
1. After soaking the chickpeas, you can skin them for a smoother hummus, but it isn’t essential.
We tried this but it was quite fiddly, so we left them as they were.
2. Cook the chickpeas in plain water according to the instructions on the packet. Generally they need to boil for 10 minutes and simmer for around an hour, until they’re soft enough to blend.
3. Drain, reserving 100ml of the water.
4. Put the chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, olive oil, chickpea water, salt and pepper into a food processor. Blend until smooth.
5. You can add more olive oil if needed to improve the consistency.
When you serve, the hummus looks great with a little drizzle of olive oil over the top.
We’ve never made tabbouleh before, but having enjoyed some from a street market near London’s Southbank, we’ve been keen to try it.
This recipe can be easily adjusted to suit you, as we have done.
INGREDIENTS to serve 4
80g bulgur wheat
2 garlic cloves
Juice of 1 lemon
Handful of flat-leaf parsley
Handful of fresh mint
3 salad tomatoes
3 spring onions
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook or soak the bulgur wheat according to the instructions on the packet.
2. In the meantime, prepare the rest of your ingredients: chop or crush the garlic, finely chop the herbs, deseed and chop the tomatoes, finely slice the spring onions.
3. Drain your bulgur wheat and leave to cool.
4. Finally, mix all the ingredients together. All done!
This was a great activity to involve our boys. They enjoyed watching the prep for the hummus and tabbouleh and helped Rob make the flatbread dough. They couldn’t join in with the cooking but they did enjoy devouring the fruits of our labour!
Rob and I loved Day 1 of our #100DaysNoTV project. Beautiful, healthy food, and easy to make at home.
The fresh flavours really stirred up memories of al fresco meals. If you want to capture an essence of summer eating in the last of the winter weeks, why not have a go at this yourself? If you do, we’d love to know how you get on!
Bye for now!