It’s More Than Seeds & Butter: Say Hello to Sesame Flour! - By Lisa Howard
Recently, I got to play with a new kind of flour: sesame! Clay Oliver from Oliver Farm Artisan Oils has been producing lovely unrefined sesame oil for several years (and also unrefined almond, pecan, walnut, pumpkin seed, and sunflower oils) and lately started adding equally-as-lovely unrefined flours to his product line. I already knew I adored his pecan flour, but I must say that I think I like the sesame flour even more — it’s so savory and rich!
For these flatbreads, I used equal parts sesame flour and raw buckwheat flour, and the sesame flavor shone through beautifully. (Full disclosure: I’ve always been a huge fan of sesame seeds and tahini, so it’s only logical that I would love sesame flour.) Clay presses the seeds to create his unrefined oil, then grinds those pressed seeds into a flour that’s surprisingly fine-textured, which makes it a welcome addition to anything from cakes to cookies.
Just to amp up the sesame aspect even more, I topped the flatbreads with a yogurt-and-tahini spread. The za’atar includes sesame seeds, too, so it’s a triple-sesame-whammy. Thanks to all of the fiber, protein, and fat sesame offers, this makes an incredibly satisfying snack or side dish. Or you can serve the sesame flatbreads with hummus or whatever topping you wish. The spread, too, can be served with a variety of dishes. Looking for your next veggie dip? You’ve just found it!
Sesame Flatbreads with Tahini & Za’atar Yogurt
Makes about 8 flatbreads. The yogurt spread is easy to make in whatever amount you’d like.
For the flatbreads:
- 1/2 cup raw buckwheat flour OR sorghum flour*
- 1/2 cup sesame flour
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk, preferably from grass-fed cows
- 2 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
- Ghee OR butter OR extra-virgin olive oil
For the yogurt:
- Whole-milk plain Greek yogurt
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Splash of lemon juice
- Za’atar (a blend of thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, and sumac, which is a dried berry with a beautiful red color and a pleasantly tart flavor)
To make the flatbreads, whisk all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Get out a 6″ or 7″ nonstick crepe pan and place a dab of ghee in the pan. Heat over medium heat — I go with mark 4 out of 10 on my electric burners — until ghee has melted. Pour in 1/4 cup of the batter and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the flatbread is set on top and browned on the bottom.
Use a heatproof spatula to flip over the flatbread and cook the second side for another minute or two or until equally browned. If you’re adventurous, by all means go ahead and flip that sucker up into the air to turn it over. Just don’t do that directly over the burner! It’s much easier to rescue a misdirected flatbread from a cool element than a hot burner.
Place the cooked flatbread on a wire rack. (If you put it on a plate, it’ll collect condensation and get soggy.) Make a second flatbread in the same pan using the same technique. I find that I have to put a fresh dab of ghee into my pan every other flatbread to keep them from sticking. Leftover flatbreads can be stacked in a sealed container and refrigerated for a week. They’re especially delicious when re-heated by sauteing them in that same skillet with another dab of ghee.
To make the yogurt spread, combine the yogurt with the tahini in a 2:1 ratio. Stir in a drizzle of oil, a splash of lemon, and a generous sprinkling of za’atar. Taste to see if you’d like the spread to be more tangy (add more lemon juice), more spicy (add more za’atar), more creamy (add more yogurt), or more nutty (add more tahini). The spread can be refrigerated for a week and used as a dip, condiment, or spread.
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Yes, Cookies Can Be Healthy, Too! - By Lisa Howard
Nut and seed flours are so lovely - not only do they have rich, pronounced flavors, they're all about protein and fat rather than starch. (Grain flours are far more inclined towards starch.) That means cakes and cookies made with nut and seed flours are delicious, satisfying, and tranquil when it comes to blood sugar levels. Avoiding starch makes for low glycemic impact, something that should be treasured by everyone, diabetic or not. After all, if you're a Type II, you can reverse it, if you're a Type I, you can make your life easier, and if you're a non-diabetic, you can stay that way. Win-win-win!
For these cookies, I used sesame flour, buckwheat flour, and pecans that I toasted in order to be able to grind them into flour. (Of the grains, buckwheat has the least glycemic impact. Wild rice is also very non-starchy, but its intense flavor doesn't always work well for sweet baked goods.) Pecans and walnuts need to be dried out slightly by toasting before you can grind them - otherwise, you wind up with pecan and walnut flour. Which can also be nice, just not when you want flour. On the plus side, because pecans and walnuts are soft, you can grind them in a food processor or coffee grinder. Ditto for sliced almonds and chopped cashews. Hazelnuts are harder and are best ground in a high-speed blender like a Vitamix. But I digress...
If you have black sesame seeds, they would look particularly pretty atop these cookies. Or use poppy seeds for a contrasting look. The most important thing, though, is to shape the dough into a log and then refrigerate it for 30 minutes. Chilled dough is easier to cut into uniform slices. Just remember to let the cookies completely cool before handling them - hot-out-of-the-oven cookies will disintegrate into crumbs. That's because they don't have eggs; rather, they have lots of butter. Cookies like these fall into the "sable" cookie category. That means "sandy" in French; the term refers to the delicate, buttery texture that let these cookies fall apart on your tongue. Once they've cooled, though, they become slightly more sturdy.
Sesame & Pecan Cookies Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
1 cup raw pecan halves 1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour, preferably raw buckwheat* 1 cup sesame flour Pinch sea salt 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1/2 cup palm sugar OR sucanat 2 sticks butter, preferably from pastured cows 2 tsp. vanilla Sesame seeds for topping
Preheat oven to 350F and cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place pecans in a large skillet and dry-toast over medium heat for 5 minutes, shaking the skillet occasionally, until pecans are turning golden brown and fragrant. You may have to reduce the heat to medium-low once they start to toast. Transfer to food processor and add the other flours, salt, baking powder, and palm sugar. Process until you have crumbs. Cut butter into chunks and scatter them onto the nut mixture. Add the vanilla and process until a dough forms.
On a clean counter or cutting board, roll the dough into a log about 14" long. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to chill the dough. Cut even slices from the log - making each one about 1/4" thick - and arrange them on the baking sheets. Lightly press a scattering of sesame seeds (or poppy seeds; see recipe head note) onto each cookie.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies are turning light brown around the edges. The bottom sheet will probably bake a bit faster and be done first - if so, pull it out and allow the other sheet to bake for another minute or two. Let cookies completely cool before handling them! Cooled cookies can be stored in an airtight container for a week at room temp or refrigerated for 2 weeks.