Monday, January 6, 2014

Carrot Feta Flatbread

There's nothing like some well-timed commercialism to help keep New Year's resolutions.  How else would one explain the slew of brand new hot pink tank tops that have suddenly cropped up at my gym, right after January 1st!  Well, I'm not immune to this trend either, and since one of my New Year's resolutions -- (come to think of it, my only New Year's resolution this year) -- was  to revive this blog after a long hiatus, I was convinced that a brand new camera was just the thing to get my creative juices flowing again.

The dough, before rising...

After hours of internet research, social media poll-taking, and shameless ambushing of unwitting photography enthusiasts, I finally upgraded my trusty point-and-shoot to a brand new ILC.  ILCs or interchangeable-lens cameras are cameras that, as their name implies, come with the option of changing out the lens. This feature, and their enormous sensor size make them similar to DSLRs.  DSLRs, or digital single lens reflex cameras are those professional-looking cameras that so many people carry around in dedicated backpacks these days.  Although I'm not sure what the picture quality differences are between a DSLR and an ILC, the ILCs were very attractive to me, as they come in at a fraction of the cost, size, and weight of a typical DSLR.  My longstanding hesitation with ditching my point-and-shoot for so many years had been that I did not envision myself lugging around a bulky and expensive piece of equipment during my travels.  So, the Sony Nex ILC offered me a great compromise in terms of delivering excellent picture quality in a much-more compact and wallet-friendly package.
...and after it is risen.

Okay, that's enough with the camera-tutorial - when did this turn into a gadget blog?  Anyhow, ever since I eagerly opened up my brand new camera a few days ago, I have been in relentless pursuit of new subjects to photograph.  In that spirit, I took it out for a spin in the kitchen, as I was making these carrot and feta stuffed flatbreads, and I have to say, it did not disappoint me at all.  With my point-and-shoot, I would have struggled for hours to try and get decent non-yellow pictures, while my husband sous-chef passed through the sequential stages of patiently helping to light up my food scene, then impatiently grabbing my camera to try and get the shots himself, to finally stomping off in hunger and irritation.   Contrast that with my Sony ILC, which worked beautifully at reproducing the color and light conditions as I was photographing.  The camera comes with a 16-50 mm kit lens, which is not ideal for food photography, as it does not allow me to get very close to try and capture texture.  However, using some of the smart-shooting tips that are built in to the Sony Nex, I was still able to get far better shots in low-light conditions than I'm accustomed to.  Thus, although I envision additional lenses in my future, I'm quite content with trying to master the lens that came with the camera.

So, without further ado, as I sign off, armed with visions of culinary delights and world travels that await me and my new Sony Nex3N, I leave you with a few pictures from my kitchen to tickle your visual senses and a recipe to delight  the tastebuds. Bon appetit!

P.S. Please excuse the messy surroundings, as I was too excited to try out my camera to bother setting the stage first.  I hope that my jazzy manicure makes up for what's otherwise lacking in my presentation.

A sphere of dough, ready to roll out
Carrot-feta flatbread

For dough:

~1 1\4 cups warm water
2 teaspoons yeast

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (can substitute with all-purpose flour for a lower fiber alternative.  Or, use 2 parts whole wheat flour to 1 part all-purpose flour, if whole-wheat pastry flour is not handy)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
Olive oil, for shallow-frying

For filling:

1 C crumbled feta
6 thai green chilis, finely minced
3 large carrots, thinly sliced or grated

To make the dough:

Mix the water and yeast and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, while the yeast starts to form bubbles in the water.
Mix all other ingredients together in a large bowl.
Add yeast-water and knead to a soft pliable dough.
As you knead, if dough is too sticky, add a little more flour.  Conversely, if dough is too hard, add some more water.

Cover with a damp cloth and allow dough to rest for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.

In the meantime, make the filling:
Microwave carrots and chilis for ~4 minutes, or until carrots are slightly softened.
Once cooled, add crumbled feta and mix to combine.

Once dough is risen, knead gently again and separate into 8 equal size balls.

Roll balls into a smooth sphere.

Sprinkle some flour on a clean surface, and using a roller, roll spheres into a 4-inch diameter circle.

Fill each circle with a heaping tablespoon of filling and pinch shut dough shut around filling.

Using flour to prevent sticking, roll out filled dough into a large 1/2 inch thick circle.  Don't worry if some of the filling oozes out at this point; those bits will be extra delicious once you cook your flatbread and will also lend an appealing rustic charm to your creation.

Heat up a skillet and add 1 tsp oil; slap on flatbread and cook on both sides until it is dappled with brown spots and the dough is fully cooked.

Serve with a hot soup such as lentil soup or enjoy with hot tea.