Hotel Donaldson’s Signature Lavosh ala Suzanne


I’ve made a lot of pizza crusts in my life. Sometimes thick, sometimes thin, and all sorts of in between. But until a few days ago, I had never made a cracker thin crust or anything resembling lavosh (an Armenian cracker bread or flatbread, either yeasted or unleavened). Never really thought about making it either until I was inspired by the always inspirational Sarah Nasello. She and her husband Tony write a weekly food column in the The Forum, and this week it included a recipe for the Hotel Donaldson’s Signature Lavosh.

The Hotel Donaldson (HoDo for short) is a trendy boutique hotel in cool downtown Fargo, North Dakota (yes, I said cool and North Dakota in the same sentence!), that is home to both a great casual restaurant/bar and wonderful fine dining restaurant. No visit to Fargo is complete without a visit to HoDo.

After reading Sarah’s column, my mind immediately thought of combining the recipe with yummy Shaved Asparagus Pizza from the super talented Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook—one of the most used in my collection.

With it being asparagus season, I just made the pizza a few days ago and used smoked mozzarella for the first time, along with the addition of shaved fennel. Wow, did that rock! Figuring if I lightened up the topping volume and added some spring color from shaved radishes, this would make the perfect “Suzanne” version of Signature Lavosh.

I made the dough exactly as the recipe was written, with the exception of adding ½ cup whole wheat flour in place of some of the all-purpose flour—I just feel less guilt about anything in the pizza family if I can say, “But it’s whole grain.” And even though this is a yeast dough, there’s no need to let the dough rise when using instant yeast.

This is a really nice dough to work with, but not having a pasta roller, I was a bit worried about getting it rolled thin enough. No need—it rolled out beautifully. It’s probably not quite as thin as it would be through a pasta roller, but it’s darn thin and got nice and crispy like lavosh should be. My mom offered to bring the pasta roller they haven’t used in years when they come for Easter, and I think I will take her up on that. The difference will be interesting to see.

Sarah’s recipe also mentions running a dough docker, which I had to google to find out what it was, across each rolled out piece of dough. It’s a spikey roller thing that will help keep air bubbles from forming as your lavosh bakes. Instead I poked the dough all over with a large meat fork and it seemed to do the trick.

The cheeses you top the lavosh with can be switched up to your liking and/or what you have on hand. Directly on top of the flatbread I used a mixture of half smoked mozzarella and half regular, plus I sprinkled a little fresh parmesan over the vegetables.

Speaking of vegetables, you could vary them as well. Any spring veggies that can be shaved super thin with a mandolin or vegetable peeler would work. The combo of asparagus, fennel, and radish was delicious and pretty, and I could see carrot or red onion put in the mix as well. Just keep in mind not to top this like a more heartily-crusted pizza. The lavosh is light and somewhat delicate, so you don’t want to weigh it down with heavy toppings.

Another change from Sarah’s original recipe I made was to increase the oven temperature. I used half the dough the first night following the 350-degree instruction for convection ovens (375 for regular). When I made the remaining dough into lavosh the next night, I increased the temp to 400 in my convection oven, so non-convection would be 425 degrees F. My results were better with the higher temperature. And I did use a pizza stone.

This light, cracker-crisp lavosh with wisps of spring veggies and a light sprinkling of cheese is the perfect first-peek-of-warm-weather supper accompanied by a nice glass of rosé. Enjoy!


Hotel Donaldson's Signature Lavosh ala Suzanne

Adapted from the Hotel Donaldson’s Signature Lavosh and the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook’s Shaved Asparagus Pizza

Lavosh:
1 cup water, lukewarm (not hot)

1 teaspoon instant dry yeast

1 ½ teaspoons honey

1 ½ teaspoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

2 cups all-purpose flour (can substitute up to ½ cup with whole wheat flour)

½ cup semolina flour

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. (400 for convection ovens). If using a pizza stone, place it in the oven now. Otherwise, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large mixing bowl, place the yeast on the bottom and then add the water. Allow the water to fully saturate the yeast, then add the honey, followed by the melted butter (make sure it is not hot).

Add the dry ingredients one at a time starting with the flour, then the semolina and adding the salt and pepper on top. Use the dough hook attachment to knead the dough until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough becomes soft and pliable, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Portion dough into desired serving size (I portioned it into 4 servings, about 8 oz. portions each, and used 2 for the toppings below and refrigerated the other half to make more the next day). (The Hotel Donaldson uses 4-ounce portions to create a single serving approximately 4 inches wide and 12 to 14 inches long, and you can vary the size according to your needs.)

Gently knead each portion into a ball, then lightly flatten into a disk. Use dough immediately or wrap each portion in plastic and refrigerate for up to one week. To freeze, place wrapped disks in a plastic freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for at least one month. Allow dough to thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

If using a pasta roller, the dough performs best when chilled first, so refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. If rolling by hand with a rolling pin, room temperature dough is best.

To make the lavosh, run each disk of dough through a pasta roller, starting on the #3 or #4 setting, and then decrease the setting and run through again until it is thin enough to run through the lowest setting, until the sheet of dough achieves a desired thinness of 1/8-inch or lower.

If not using a pasta roller, generously flour your counter (or a silicone baking mat) and use a floured rolling pin to roll dough super thin, no thicker than 1/8th inch, into the desired size. While you’re rolling, check occasionally to make sure dough isn’t stuck to the floured surface.

Place each dough sheet on pizza stone or baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between each. Before placing in the oven, run a dough docker across each sheet, or use a fork to gently create holes evenly over the dough.

Bake for 6 to 9 minutes until lightly golden on the edges. Remove from oven to a cooling rack until ready for your toppings.

Toppings for half a batch of the lavosh dough made into 2 flatbreads:
1/2 to 1/3 pound of asparagus spears, thicker stalks work best

½ a medium fennel bulb, trimmed

About 4 larger radishes

A couple teaspoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil (the kind you reserve for drizzling or bread-dipping)

A pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Three scallions, white and green parts, sliced

A total of about 6-8 ounces shredded mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, and parmesan (or other cheese(s) of choice)

Using the end of each asparagus spear that you would normally trim off as a handle, lay the asparagus flat on a cutting board and peel off thin “shavings” with a vegetable peeler. Once the spear gets too small to continue peeling, cut the rest of each spear into super thin strips, discarding the tough “handle” end.

Slice fennel and radishes a little thicker than paper thin on a mandolin, or if you don’t have a mandolin, use a sharp knife. Place all veggies in a medium bowl and toss with olive oil, red pepper flakes, if using, and salt & pepper.

Top each lavosh with a light layer of shredded cheese(s) (reserving some for sprinkling over the veggies). Place a layer of veggies (dividing evenly between the two flatbreads) over cheese and sprinkle with reserved cheese (I used freshly grated parmesan).

Bake 5-8 minutes, until cheese is melted and lavosh crisps a bit more. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with scallions. Slice and serve. Makes 2-4 servings.

Five-Spiced Apple Potato Hash

Hash and eggs
Fall came roaring in today with highs only in the 40s and sideways rain. I love it! I realize the actual change of seasons came over a week ago, but this is the first real autumn-feeling day we’ve had so far, and I’m happy as can be.

Appropriately, apples arrived at the farmers’ market last month, and I’ve been incorporating them into salads, sandwiches and soups ever since. This morning they made their way into my breakfast in the form of a hash. A good breakfast hash is true comfort food, and there’s no better time for comfort food than a blustery, rainy day made pretty by a wind-blown palette of gold, crimson, orange, brown and green outside the kitchen window.

Chinese five spice powder can be found at Asian foods stores, co-ops, well-stocked grocery stores and online. The actual number of spices it contains often is actually more than five (China Bowl Select, the brand I used, has six), and the spices can vary too, but typically contains star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and fennel, all great compliments to apples! I didn’t peel the apples and potatoes, but if your preference is to do so, go for it.

The optional apple cider vinaigrette (recipe below) is from the newest addition to my collection, Edible Twin Cities: The Cookbook. It can be made ahead of time, and is so versatile–great on both side and main-dish salads, drizzled in fall-themed soups, and on sandwiches.  Adding another layer of flavor, it’s a nice touch, however, if you don’t have time, just use the yogurt as-is, and the hash will still be delicious. Topped with perfectly poached or fried eggs alongside a slice of toasted good quality bread and jam, it’ll warm your insides and start your day off right. Enjoy!
Five-Spiced Apple Potato Hash

Five-Spiced Apple Potato Hash

1 tablespoon butter or extra-virgin olive oil

1 large russet or 2 medium gold potatoes, cooked and cut into ½ inch chunks

1 medium sweet apple (honey crisp, gala, fuji, sweet 16), cored, seeded, and chopped

½ cup diced celery

½ cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped fennel (reserve some fennel fronds for garnish)

¼ cup Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon apple cider vinaigrette (optional – recipe follows)

1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

¼ teaspoon Chinese five spice powder

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

A handful of chopped, toasted walnuts

Heat butter or olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add apple, celery, and onion and cook about three minutes. Stir in fennel, sprinkle with salt, and cook another minute or two. Toss in the potatoes, sprinkle with a bit more salt, a few grinds of pepper and the 5-spice powder. Cook until potatoes get a little browned.

Mix yogurt with apple cider vinaigrette (if using) and stir into potato mixture. Add the shredded cheddar and stir until cheese melts. Stir in the walnuts. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve topped with poached or fried eggs, fennel fronds and a side of toast for a hearty breakfast. Serves 2-4.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette
From Edible Twin Cities: The Cookbook

1 cup apple cider

1 honeycrisp apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

½ cup cider vinegar

1 tablespoon grainy mustard

1 tablespoon honey

¼ cup canola or grapeseed oil

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small saucepan, bring cider to a boil and cook at a low boil until it’s reduced by half.

Place the apple in a food processor. With the machine running, drizzle in the vinegar, mustard, honey, and reduced cider; puree until smooth. With the machine running, add the oils in a steady stream and process until the mixture emulsifies. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

Chickpea salad with tomatoes and avocado
On Wednesdays there’s a small farmers’ market in our neighborhood. Right on my way home, it has become a regular stop after work. A couple of firsts of the season today, sweet corn and tomatoes. Although we’d been patiently waiting, I was a bit surprised to see both. The tomatoes were deeply red and quite large, which made me question how they could be local. The friendly vendor explained they certainly were, but greenhouse-grown; in soil, as opposed to hydroponically. She assured me they’d be just as flavorful as the ones grown outdoors we’d be seeing at the market next month. A sample proved she wasn’t exaggerating! Tomatoes bursting with that taste of late summer I wasn’t expecting in July.

My wheels were spinning and in my mind those tomatoes were sliced, salted & peppered, and topping off a splendid summer sandwich. How convenient that right in front of me was the Grateful Bread stand! Out of River Falls, Wisconsin (with no website I could find to link to), they make delicious breads with unique ingredient blends. Last time I bought a loaf that included spent grain from the beer brewing process at River Falls’ Rush River Brewing Company. Today it was a whole wheat that included quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, flax seed, oats, rye, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Fresh and soft, perfect for a sandwich.

Lately I’ve been putting lots of farmers’ market veggies to use in a chickpea salad. It’s sort of tuna salad’s hippie vegetarian cousin. Mashed chickpeas, onion, radishes, garlic scapes (when I can get them), fennel, hot peppers, cabbage, and celery seed. A versatile salad, you can use whatever you have on hand beyond the chickpeas. It’s all mixed together with salt, pepper and a little mayo (once again, I’ll mention the outstanding and vegan Earth Balance Mindful Mayo—so, so good!), but, if you’re mayo-averse, you could use Greek yogurt or a mixture of mashed avocado with a little lime juice in its place.
Chickpea salad on crusty roll

On a crusty roll or good quality bread with peppery arugula and sliced ripe tomatoes, this is a meal of a sandwich. Or for a gluten-free option, spoon some chickpea salad on top a bed of wild rice. Finish it off with avocado slices or maybe some micro greens. Enjoy!
Chickpea salad on wild rice

Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or 1 can, rinsed and drained

½ cup chopped white or sweet onion

2-3 garlic scapes, chopped

3 radishes, diced

1-2 fennel stalks, chopped (or one celery stalk, chopped)

½ cup shredded green cabbage

1 tablespoon chopped hot pepper (jalapeño or hot cherry peppers work well)

¼ teaspoon celery seed

A couple tablespoons mayo, Greek yogurt, or mashed avocado sprinkled with fresh lime juice

Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Topping options: Arugula, lettuce, avocado, tomato, micro greens, sunflower seeds

Place chickpeas in a medium bowl and mash with a potato masher or fork. Add onion, scapes, radish, fennel, cabbage, hot pepper, and celery seed. Mix to combine. Stir in mayo. Season with salt and pepper and mix again.

Serve on crusty rolls, good quality bread, or a bed of wild rice. Makes about 4 servings.