Wednesday, December 12, 2007

naan too soon

Naan experiment 1: Garlic Chevre with Sesame Seeds.

It all started innocently enough. A simple potluck invite and mention of a theme and next thing you know I've volunteered to do naan. That means it was time for a naan experiment, but, the recipes I had in my mind, to try all together somehow at once, called for yogurt and I hadn't any on hand. Or in my fridge. As usual, I had to make do with what was available. I figure garlic naan is good, so some gifted garlic chevre went in with some milk, to go along with the active starter as the liquid component for my dough. My typical ratio of 1/4 whole wheat would be used. The few recipes I read spoke of kneading the dough for longer than five minutes so I assumed that they were after gluten development. I went ahead and pounded away for a while, then set it to rise in the oven.

After an initial floof, I put our pizza stone in the oven and cranked it up to blistering hot. Out comes the rolling pin and begins the thumping and squishing the dough until I work out the thickness I should start with. After the first pinch-ballup-squashandroll maneuver, I slapped the bread on the hot stone and stood back to avoid singing my eyebrows. Looking away I noticed our phone had a message. I pinched-balledup-squishedaround-andflattened the next one and then pulled the tester from the oven. I tore a bit off, shoved it in my mouth and shuffled over and hit play on the phone, hearing a disturbing message that was something to the effect of my cousin Rohan being due any minute. Though I didn't expect him to eat any of the milky-cheesy naan, I full well expected him to scrutinize me in how it was prepared. I began to get nervous. I could hear his first line: "please tell me you're making calzones," or maybe "don't tell me you're making naan!" I then imagined the tirade he would undoubtably launch into when he found out about my yogurt substitution and involuntarily gave a small shudder.

With the first rolled too thin, it fluffed nearly all the way resulting in a pita and was rather dry and thin compared to what I was envisioning. I abandoned my plan for immediate success (like, duh) and pulled out a few hot dogs to nosh on with the sample pieces I'd have to eat. I thought about the rack positioning I had arranged and decided to move the pizza stone to the top for the next round in order to try crisping the naan some. I worked on rolling out a few more, a touch thicker this time, hoping for a more doughy middle and lightly browned top given the new configuration. I got out a little butter and clarified it really quick, brushed the top and sprinkled on some sesame seeds. In went the next round.

With what looked like the best so far in the oven, Ro opens the door without a knock and invites himself in, grabs a beer from the fridge and in a quick maneuver cracks the top with his teeth and spits the cap out. He then pauses to tilt the bottle in my direction and give me a wink and nod, all in a highly practised manner before taking his first swig.
With a raised eyebrow I get: "Smells nice D. But what is that........some type of bread with like, what, goat cheese or something? some garlic?"
""Yes Ro, I'm making bread." I tried for the distraction move. "Are you well? Is the beer satisfying"
"Bloody well, thank you. And the stout is nice. Much too cold, my clueless American family member, but tasty indeed. Too bad it won't warm up appreciably before I'm through with it." Then lifting his nose and giving the air a prolonged sniff, "Wait, that smells familiar. Are you attempting a naan of sorts my dear cousin?"
"Well......." I didn't know how truthful to be, fearing the scorn and judgement I knew was imminent. I decided to tread lightly and thought that if I said something highlighting it having all this cheese in it, that it might trigger the vegan preferences he sometimes displays, resulting in him leaving it to me. "Yeah, cheesy garlic goaty cheese bread" I blurted.
Instead of the response I'm hoping for he lets out a: "Sounds great!" followed by a brief belly rub and "mmmmmm, goaty cheese bread!"
"So this sounds good to you my vegan cousin?"
"Oh yeah!"

We sampled the next round, me having a sense of accomplishment with my results and my cheery cousin polishing off his beer and moving on to his next without even a nod. I remembered the hot dogs I had boiled earlier and went to reach for one when I sensed scrutiny from behind.
"Are you gonna eat that?"
"No. Simply chew it up and spit it at you, why do you ask?"
"Because it would make a great bagel dog."
"Ro, that's brilliant!" Then I thought about it. "Wait, you want one too?"
"Does this mean you're taking another carnivorous detour from the veggie highway?"
"Maybe. I just know that right now, this dough would make for one great bagel dog wrapper, and coupled with them fine all veggie hot dogs and a chance to relive a childhood memory while enjoying a warm beery tummy, well, then, how do you Yanks say it, shit damn pardner, sign me up!"
"They are most certainly NOT vegan there Ro."
"But the package said Prather Ranch right?"
"Yeah. And.....?"
"Let us sit and eat. Then I shall explain," he says, reaching for another beer.

So, my wannabe vegan cousin and I sat and enjoyed some bagel dogs. They were way better than anything either one of us had as youths. These were uncured organic free range beef, lovingly wrapped with sourdough garlicky goaty bread and served with a (couple) nice dark beer(s).

"Well D, these are the best vegan bagel dogs I've ever had the fortune of tasting."
"What the......there was nothing vegan about them!"
"Sure there was. You see, if the cows eat only grasses, then this is vegan beef."
"Uh-huh, and what, somehow you're not then actually eating the cow?!?"
"Exactly. If you make hot dogs from cows that are strict vegans, then the meat used is really only a form of concentrated vegetal-mass, especially if you grind it so thoroughly. Meaning that this meal is really 100% vegan!"
"Well, even in the fictitious world of your mind where beef is vegan, the hot dogs would be, but not the goat cheese dough."
"Hmmmm," then a few hmmphs followed by a sigh. "I suppose not the dough. What a shame. Maybe we should have another beer to help commemorate the perfect vegan bagel dog. That very nearly, almost was."
"How eloquently put Ro."
"Right!" Then with a wink and a nod "another stout for you my brother?" then seeing the look on my face " c'mon, they're really good, I know the brewer......."

Notes to self: Really tasty, but really springy dough that is hard to get the right thickness. Maybe I'll try a commercial yeast version and/or knead the dough less next time. Garlic sesame combo works nice. Putting pizza stone near the top can result in radiant heat from oven roof browning the highest portions of the naan (good thing, although if using an electric oven it would probably burn the crap out of it being so close to the heating element). Overall, a good learning experience that warrants at least another experiment.


K & S said...

bagel dogs sound really good right now, especially with some stout :) good luck with your naan experiments.

Freya and Paul said...

My vegan justification would be "if it's organic and eaten grass, it's good" too!

Mimi said...

Hmmmm...I'm starting to suspect a "Fight Club" situation. Can anyone attest to the fact that they have seen you and Rohan in the same room together? Lol!!

You shouldn't have to use commercial yeast in Naan. My sourdough recipe has an egg. I think if you add an egg you will get the rich, soft dough you are looking for.

Dr. Biggles said...

You fricken rule. Could you deep fry them?

As I was reading, was thinking along the lines of slipping in a fatted calf sausage. I'll bring the schlitz.


HipWriterMama said...

This was a fun post! Thanks for sharing.

Monkey Wrangler said...

Kat: Next beer I'm brewing that is a stout will be dubbed the "bagel dog stout!"

F&P: Rohan spent a few years living in your neck of the woods so go figure.

Mimi: The next tutorial I post about will have to do with soap, really.

Thanks for the egg tip. I shall try it on the next round.

Biggles: OOOooOOooOOo! I do have a deep fryer! (just in the realm of thoughts though; no oil) And speaking of the fatted one, would you do something like merguez, or maybe a boudin noir perhaps?

Can't wait for the schlitz. We can try it alongside a homebrew or two.

Monkey Wrangler said...

Hip: Dowf! Looks like I was commenting about the time your comment came in so it looks like I was ignoring you, sorry!

Anyway, thank you ma'am. Hope you're not freezing any appendages off right about now with all that snowy weather. Bundle up! (make minestrone)

Schweitz said...

I'm not sure about the hot dogs, even fancy ones - that's one childhood treat I was glad to escape! But I admit that garlicky, goaty bread sounds great. Even shared with an "almost" vegan. Might be a great side to some of the curries I've been experimenting with lately.