Introducing…the Ooto!


Well, I said I was going to invent my own version of a flat bread/pancake along the lines of injera, tortillas, pita, roti, dosas, moo shu etc, etc. And I HAVE DONE IT!! *THUNDERCLAP* I feel like John Cleese in the brontosaurus sketch. This flat bread, which is mine, belongs to me and I made it.

But let’s start at the beginning… I’ve always loved foods you could eat with your hands. Indian, Ethiopian, middle eastern – any cuisine that involves lots of little delicious dishes you mix and match, and eat with a bit of bread that you tear off, or a big piece of bread that you wrap around. It’s the best, most enjoyable way to eat. I’ve made (or tried to make) injera, pita, roti, crepes, etc, with varying levels of success, but it’s never quite as good as you can get at the restaurant. And yet, I’d like to eat this way more often. And so I decided to try to invent a new type of bread of my very own. Here was my criteria… I wanted it to be crispy on the outside, but softer and chewier on the inside. I wanted it to be smoothish on one side, but have crumpet-like holes on the other. I wanted it to hold together well enough to be a useful utensil, but not be too dense. I wanted it to taste good all on its own, but not be too distracting from other tastes on the plate. I wanted it to be fairly easy to make, and not fall apart frustratingly when you tried to cook it. I wanted it to have little toasty patterns on it.

And here is what I came up with. I’m calling it the ooto (it’s an acroynm!) because I like the sound of the word. But I suppose I might reconsider that in days to come. It’s made with semolina flour and regular flour, which gives it a nice taste & texture. It’s got black pepper in it, but no other distracting herbs or spices. Black pepper goes with everything! The first pancake fell apart, but after that it was a breeze to make. Although it did smoke up my kitchen a little, since I used olive oil, which is tasty but does get smoky. And that’s pretty much the news about that. My family liked it. And it tasted good today toasted and crispy – nice with scrambled eggs.

Here’s The Ethiopians with ONE. Why? Because I love it, that’s why! And this post, which is mine, belongs to me!!

1 t. yeast
1 t. sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup flour
1 cup semolina flour
1 T olive oil
1 egg
4 T butter, melted
1 t. lemon juice
1 t. salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 cups warm water

Combine the yeast, 1/2 cup warm water and sugar in a small bowl. Leave aside for about 10 minutes till it’s foamy.

Meanwhile…In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt and black pepper.

Then add the olive oil, melted butter, lemon juice and yeast mixture. Mix well.

Add enough warm water to bring it all to a consistency of lightly whipped heavy cream.

Cover with foil or plastic and leave in a warm place. I made it in the morning, and left it for about 6 hours. My idea was just to make a batter you could leave all day and come back to in the evening. About half way through I beat it, turning it from foamy to a calmer batter, and then let it rise again. I’m not convinced that this is a necessary step, though. I was really just curious!

When you’re ready to cook them…

Warm a spoonful of olive oil in a large frying pan. When it starts to sizzle, add a scant 1/2 cup of batter, spreading it in circles with the back of a spoon or spatula to make it thinner. But you want it to be smaller than the pan for ease of flipping. The top should start to dry out, and lots of little holes will form. When the edges start to look a bit brown, carefully slide a spatula under and flip it over. Cook the other side for a few minutes, till it starts to have little brown patches as well. Put it in a warm oven until you’re ready to eat. As I said, the first one fell apart on me, but after that they flipped beautifully. And you get to snack on the scrapple from the first one as you cook. I used olive oil, but if you used a different oil it might not smoke (It would probably not taste as good, though!) and you could also use butter.

Or fry them in butter on a non-stick skillet, like you’d make pancakes, flipping when they get brown on one side.

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5 thoughts on “Introducing…the Ooto!

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