|Appetizers made from native California buckwheat seeds.|
The winter holidays are almost here. If you’re planning a holiday party, you’re probably already thinking about food. And if you’ve dried native buckwheat seeds - and the leaves from your favorite native sage - now’s the time to use them.
Flatbreads are found in most cultures around the world. Some common flatbreads are: pita, tortilla, roti, naan, fatir, lefse, chapati, fry bread and many others. They may be made from local cereal grains and seasoned with regional seasonings. So traditional flatbreads can reflect the unique flavors of their native region.
Flatbreads are often unleavened: they contain no yeast, baking powder or other agents to make them rise. They are rolled out or patted with the hands to make them thin and flat. They are usually cooked on a hot griddle, although traditional baking methods vary around the world. They are fairly easy to make and can be used to create a make-ahead appetizer for your holiday parties.
|Giant Buckwheat (St. Catherine's Lace)|
The native S. California Buckwheats (genus Eriogonum) are mostly shrubby plants that bloom in summer and produce numerous seeds in fall. The seed heads add notes of rust and dark brown to the fall garden. One of the showiest Eriogonums is the Giant buckwheat (Eriogonum giganteum) from the Channel Islands. For more on this plant see: http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2013/08/plant-of-month-august-st-catherines.html
|Seed heads: Giant buckwheat|
Most gardeners aren’t aware that native buckwheats are edible. You can collect the seed heads (chaff and all), remove the stems, dry them and use them in baked goods. The Giant buckwheat is particularly simple to use, with its large, easy to collect seed heads. We routinely collect the seed heads when we do our fall pruning. We store the dried ‘seeds’ in an airtight glass jar until we use them.
We like to grind the dried seed heads and substitute them for part of the flour in flatbreads, muffins, scones and bread. We use a coffee/spice grinder, which grinds the seed heads to a ‘flour’. The dark color and slightly sweet flavor of the ground buckwheat adds interest to pedestrian baked goods. Buckwheat edibles are always a source of curiosity. And they are one more reason to use the native buckwheats in your garden.
Below is just one recipe that uses native buckwheat ‘seeds’.
|Flat bread made with native California buckwheat seeds|
Flatbread Rolls with Flavored Cream Cheese
Flavored Cream Cheese Filling
- 8 oz carton of whipped cream cheese
- 1 tsp to 2 Tbsp dried, finely ground dried native spices or dried greens (sage, sagebrush, mint, stinging nettle, fresh or dried citrus zest, rose petals, kitchen spices). You can use a single seasoning or combine
- Combine ingredients thoroughly
- Refrigerate overnight; stir and taste to check if more flavorings are needed
- 1 ¾ cups / 300g plain flour (all purpose flour) (level cups, unsifted, not packed), + 1/4 cup extra for dusting & adjusting dough*
- ¼ cup ground buckwheat seedheads (seed and chaff)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 1/2 Tbsp / 50g butter (1.75 oz) : note: you can substitute margarine
- 3/4 cup / 185 ml milk
- 1/2 Tbsp oil (for cooking; we prefer olive oil)
- Combine butter and milk and heat until butter is just melted - on stove or in microwave.
- Combine 1 ¾ cups flour, ground buckwheat, salt, butter and milk.
- Sprinkle work surface with flour then knead for a few minutes until it is smooth - it doesn't need much kneading. Add extra flour if the dough is too sticky.
- Wrap with cling wrap and rest at room temperature for 30 minutes or so.
- Dust bench top with flour, cut dough into 4 pieces, roll into balls, then roll out into about 1/8" / 0.3cm thick rounds.
- Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a non-stick griddle over medium-high heat - lower if you have a heavy skillet.
- Place one flatbread on the griddle, cook for around 1- 1 1/2 minutes - it should bubble up - then flip and cook the other side, pressing down if it puffs up. There should be a golden brown spots on both sides.
- Stack the cooked bread and keep wrapped with a tea towel - the moisture helps soften the surface, making them even more pliable.
- Continue to cook the remaining pieces. Cool.
- Spread ¼ of the filling on each flatbread, smoothing the filling to the edges.
- Roll the flatbread into a tight roll.
- Refrigerate the rolls for about an hour to make it easier to slice.
- Slice the rolls into 1 inch pieces.
- Refrigerate the completed appetizers until ready to serve. You can make them up to 2 days in advance.
*If you don’t want to use the buckwheat, just use 2 cups regular flour
|Rolling up flat bread spread with flavored cream cheese|
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