NAAN

Last week we took a mini vacation to the Mississippi River.  We started doing this a few years ago, driving east to Lake City or Red Wing and then down the river on the Minnesota side.  This time we crossed at Hastings and drove down the Wisconsin side.  I love little river towns, one main street scrunched up against the river and hemmed in by a tall bluff on the other side, with the shops and houses backed right up against the hill.  Several of the towns have nice city parks on the river’s edge with campsites for tents and RVs.  You can rent all manner of water transportation, from kayaks and canoes to 70′ houseboats and cabin cruisers.  Sometime soon we want to rent a small houseboat and spend a few days floating down that river, tying up along the shore in the evening and wandering around town, having a drink on some local dive’s deck overlooking the water.  If we time it right, late September or early October, the colors will be gorgeous and all the local cideries will be on our list of places to visit.

One of the places we stopped at on this trip was Alemar Cheese in Mankato.  I’ve been keeping up with them on their Facebook page and was anxious to try some of their Camembert-style Bent River. After finding the shop (easy to find a store with a bulk tank in the pickup bed parked outside) we were disappointed to learn they don’t sell retail.  We were directed to the co-op in St. Peter just a few miles down the road.  What a wonderful find!  It was noon and they were full of customers finding lunch.  We found the Bent River cheese and a few others and got in line to order a sandwich. Schawarma caught my eye – chicken, feta, onions on warm naan.  Heaven.  The first thing when we got home I tried making naan.  It couldn’t be simpler and they were a big hit at my house. I brushed them lightly with melted butter and roasted garlic before baking. Best eaten warm the day they’re made and trust me, you’ll want to.  We ate it with Middle Eastern spiced lentil and squash soup (that recipe will be coming soon) but I can think of lots of ways to serve it – as a carrier for pulled pork, smoked chicken salad, schwarma of course, tacos, even jam, and it’s perfect for soaking up flavorful soups or stews.

– Joan, 19 August 2015

NAAN

1 cup (227 grams) warm water
2 Tablespoons (46 grams) honey
¼ cup (57 grams) plain Greek yogurt
1 egg
3½ cups (490 grams) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons (.25 ounce package) instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt

  1. Mix together all the wet ingredients in a mixer bowl, making sure to break up the egg.  Blend all the dry ingredients and add to the bowl. Using the dough hook, mix on slow till all the dry ingredients are incorporated, then increase speed to medium high for about 5 minutes.  Remove dough from the bowl, spray with oil and replace the dough.  Cover with a plate or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until dough is doubled, 1-2 hours.
  2. Preheat a 10-12″ heavy frying pan (cast iron is ideal) over medium-medium high heat. Divide dough into 8 pieces.  Gently stretch each piece into a rough circle and cover while you work. Roll the pieces out on a floured surface to a thickness of about ¼”. Don’t worry much about making perfect circles, it’s easy to stretch them into shape when you put them in the pan.  Brush the top with melted butter and garlic if desired, or leave plain.
  3. Bake like pancakes – when the top surface begins to show small bubbles in a minute or so, slip a turner under it and check to see if the bottom is browned.  If it is it’s ready to flip.  Cook the second side for another minute or so.
  4. Stack cooked pieces layered with clean cloth (cloth napkins work well) on a cooling rack.  Let them cool for a few minutes before serving.

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