Crackers are hard to find in Shanghai. I’ve been craving a good cracker. One to eat with dips and cheese and beer. Seeing all of the homemade one on Pinterest inspired me to try it myself. It was so surprisingly easy, I can’t believe I never made them before. Now I have visions of cheesy crackers and seedy crackers and spicy crackers tempting me into the kitchen. They are a little thicker than the typical water crackers. So I am calling them flatbread.
I wanted a flatbread to complement the eggplant dip. When I think of eggplant I think of parmesan and when I think of parmesan I think of Cacio e Pepe. So I decided to make a parmesan and pepper flatbread. It is gooooood. We ate it all in one go.
Shredded parmesan, 2 tablespoons of freshly ground pepper and olive oil make this cracker addictive on its own and delightful with pairings. Especially eggplant.
There is no shortage of eggplant in Shanghai. It is the Asian eggplant that is sold in every vegetable vender’s stand. Long and skinny, it is more tender that its chubby cousin. And more flavorful.
After slitting them lengthwise, they roasted in the oven until the ‘meat’ turned silky soft. Blended with roasted garlic, fresh parsley, lemon and spices this eggplant dip will transport you to far away, exotic places.
Peppery Parmesan Flatbread
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for topping
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon coarsely ground white pepper
3 cloves finely diced garlic
2/3 cup shredded parmesan, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup water
1 egg white (or olive oil)
Mix flour, baking powder, salt, peppers and garlic together in a bowl. Add 1/3 cup of parmesan to the mixture and combine. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the olive oil and water. Slowly stir until all the dough is incorporated. If dough is dry add a little water until it is slightly sticky.
There are two ways you can form the flatbread. 1) Roll out the dough into a rectangle and cut into shapes. This is what I did. 2) Make gumball-sized balls out of the dough and then roll each out into a thin flatbready cracker. It is important to get them as thin as possible, as they will puff up a lot in the oven. I hand stretched each cracker to be tissue paper thin. I could almost see through them.
The thinner you roll the dough, the crispier they will be.
After rolling them out, brush with the egg white or olive oil and sprinkle generously with parmesan cheese and cracked salt (or whichever spices you prefer).
Bake at 425 F (220c) for 6 to 10 minutes depending on how thin your crackers are. When they are browned on the top they are done! Serve with cheese, dips, drinks or eat them by themselves.
Roasted Eggplant Dip
10 Asian Eggplants or 2 large American/Italian Eggplants
1 head of garlic
1/3 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 of a lemon)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Make a lengthwise slit into eggplants, not cutting them all the way through. Place them onto a baking pan. If using Asian eggplant put the head of garlic on the same pan as the eggplant. If using American eggplant wait to add the garlic until the eggplant is 1/2 cooked (20 min). Roast at 375 F or 190 C for 35 to 45 minutes. The eggplant will turn brown on the outside and be soft inside.
Scoop out the “meat” of the eggplant. Discard the skins. Chop the eggplant.
Pop the garlic cloves out of their shells and mash. Add to cooked eggplant.
Add spices, lemon and chopped parsley to dip and mix.
Spread on bread or eat with homemade flatbread!