Tag Archives: low sodium

Georgian porcini, mushroom, and black pepper flatbread

Bread is a staple in our household.  I don’t actually eat a lot of it — if it were just me, I would maybe make it through half a loaf before it went stale — but it’s James’s favorite snack.  And if you’re trying to eat less salt, going to the corner store to buy a baguette isn’t really a very good option.  Most bread (even the good stuff) is pretty high in sodium, to the point where places that make saltless bread are considered anomalous somehow.  And seriously, who chooses Pugliese when they could have a good french baguette?  So I’ve been playing around with various flatbread recipes, just to see if there’s a quick, easy, and tasty substitute for bread that doesn’t need a lot of salt, stores well, and can be used to make sandwiches.  This Georgian flatbread recipe is the best I’ve tried so far.

The original recipe is from Jeffrey Alford’s Flatbreads and Flavors: A Baker’s Atlas, which I’ve only been cooking from for a short time but have had consistent success with.  His recipe is for a cheese bread — you make a rather plain dough and fill it with a feta cheese mix, kind of like a cheese pasty but with softer dough.  My version starts with his dough recipe, but I incorporate porcini powder, sauteed minced shallots, and black pepper into the dough as I knead to give it more flavor.  What you end up with is a soft bread (almost biscuit-like) with a rich, earthy, savory taste that can be eaten plain or, better still, toasted with a bit of butter.

This recipe is quite versatile — I imagine you could use the same procedure I describe below for any flavoring you desire.  And it is very quick — you do all the prep work while the oven is preheating, and then just shove them in.  6 minutes later, you have bread.

Georgian Flatbread with Porcini, Shallot, and Black Pepper

Makes 8 ~6″ rounds.

  • olive oil
  • 2 T. porcini powder (or any minced, strongly flavored mushroom)
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • ~ 1/2 t. black pepper
  • 3-4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1-1/2 c. greek yogurt (low fat is fine)
  • 1/2 c. milk

Preheat oven to 450°F / 230°C.

Saute minced shallots, porcini powder, and black pepper in olive oil until soft.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Start with 3 c. flour. Stir in the baking powder, then add the greek yogurt and milk.  Stir (probably with your hands, if you’re me) until the dough comes together.  If it’s too wet, add a bit more flour. Sprinkle a hard surface with flour, turn out the dough, and knead for 4 minutes or so, adding more flour as necessary.  It should feel soft and smooth and be fairly easy to work with — if it’s too hard, add a bit more milk or water.  Once you’re happy with the dough, flatten it out a bit and make a well in the center.  Put the shallot mix in the well, then fold the dough over the mix and keep kneading. This is supposed to be a little messy; it will eventually result in an evenly flavored dough.

Shape the dough into 8 round, flat breads (like tortillas, though the dough isn’t quite that stretchy).  Place on parchment-lined baking trays, and place in the oven.  Bake for 6-10 minutes (depending on how brown / crunchy you want them and how accurate your oven temperature is).  Serve warm or let cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container until you want to use them.

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Filed under baking, low fat, low sodium, mushrooms, quick bread, shallots, vegetarian

Heart-healthy panna cotta

It figures I’d start the low-fat, low-sodium posts with a dessert.  Those of you who know me in real life are aware I don’t do deprivation well — particularly when it comes to sweets.  So yes, dessert was the first thing I tried to transform.

The good news is, I think I’m on the right track.  I would almost serve this to guests — ALMOST.  It is still very much a work in progress, but I can assure you of this: it is a welcome substitute for the non-fat yogurt and jam we’ve* been stuck with lately.   I’ve basically started with a low-fat panna cotta recipe, which replaces the typical cream and sugar component of the dessert with low-fat milk and yogurt, and transformed it into something more exotic.  Does it work? Well — as I said before, almost. I would use pineapple or bananas instead of strawberries (or at least saute the strawberries with a little bit of nice balsamic or brown sugar), steep the basil in the coconut milk as opposed to liberally adding slivers of it to the dessert, and would skip the black pepper (which I will not mention in the recipe, of course) in favor of vanilla or toasted coconut.  Beyond that, though, it actually does seem worthy of dessert, which is exactly what I was going for.  If you want to make it a little creamier, you can either use full fat coconut or low / full fat yogurt.  But then you might as well use real cream, no?

If you prefer, you can also use regular milk. I’ve done this as well, and it works. It’s just a little less exciting.

Forgive the photos, which sort of remind me of faux foodie glamour shots. It is 11 pm and my nice camera lacks battery power, so I’ve decided to improvise.

* Err… well, James has. Until yesterday, I had my private stash of Girl Scout Cookies. Shhh, don’t tell!

Low-fat strawberry basil panna cotta

Serves 4.

  • 1 c. low-fat coconut milk
  • 1 c. non-fat greek yogurt (Fage or Skyr are the best)
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin (have yet to try this with agar agar for the vegetarians out there, but if I get around to it, I will report back. If you try it out and it works, leave a comment!)
  • 2 t. honey
  • 3 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 6 strawberries, cut into small chunks

Sprinkle the gelatin over the coconut milk, and let stand for a couple of minutes minutes.  Heat briefly over a medium-low burner, stirring rapidly, until the gelatin dissolves.  Add the honey, and stir until that also dissolves.  Remove from heat. Stir in basil chunks, and set aside.

Evenly distribute strawberry chunks between four ramekins or small bowls.  Pour coconut milk mixture over the strawberries.  Chill mixture for a couple of hours, or until the mixture has firmed.  Serve cold, either in the ramekins or turned out and topped with some sort of decadent berry sauce (which I have yet to make).

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Filed under coconut, dessert, strawberry, Uncategorized