Tags: crackers, snacks
I admit that is was pretty hard to turn on the oven to make crackers in this sticky summer heat. My main motivation for doing so was really to have cheese and crackers with a cold glass of white wine at the end of the process. At least Beatrice Ojakangas’s Swedish Oatmeal Hardtack recipe doesn’t use yeast, or I’m sure I would have had an overproofed dough-blob situation going on in my kitchen.
This was actually an easy, make-by-hand dough to knead together. It has oatmeal in it to give it a rustic texture. Technically, it calls for quick oats, which I didn’t have. I approximated them by plusing my regular rolled oats in the food processor a couple of times to break them up a little, and then hydrated them in the buttermilk for a few minutes while I gathered everything else together. Since the dough uses oatmeal, I thought a little whole wheat would be good, too, and swapped 1/2 cup of AP flour for WW. With some chilling time and good amount of flour, I was able to roll and cut the dough right on the sheet tray. I had a hard time getting my first tray to color and crisp in the oven (especially in the center) so I upped the temperature to 350ºand increased the baking time by several minutes.
I’ve never had hardtack before and, based on the name, anticipated a trip to the dentist with a cracked tooth! The texture, however, is not rock hard but a bit sandy. There’s a little sugar creamed into the fat in the dough, so they are slightly sweet, slightly salty. I bumped up the salt factor a bit by sprinkling a pinch of fleur de sel on top before baking. They were good with cheese, and also with peanut butter. As separate snacks, I mean…not too sure about a cheese and PB combo.
Tags: baking, savory, snacks
The Matzo recipe from Lauren Groveman is bread at its most basic. Really, it’s just flour, salt and water, hand-kneaded and with no real resting period required. A little ground pepper and some sesame seeds are technically optional, but I wouldn’t skip them…they make a boring-sounding dough interesting and flavorful.
The instructions say to roll the dough as thin as possible. When I make crackers, I like to roll them out on my pasta machine rather than with a wooden pin. I did that here, too, and because the machine cranks out long, narrow, strips, I wound up cutting them into smaller pieces than the large, plate-sized matzos shown in the book’s photos. The smaller pieces seemed also more easy to deal with using the kinda scary-sounding baking-and-flipping-on-a-blazing-hot-sheet-tray technique called for in the recipe. I only burned myself once, so I’d call that a success!
I got matzos that were much more thin and delicate than the store-bought ones I’ve had. And did I already mention how good the sesame seeds are in here? I made a little smoked salmon, dill and cream cheese spread to go with the matzos, and the combo was every bit as addictive as chips and dip.
Tags: appetizers, savory, snacks
I’m no interior designer. This has been made painfully obvious to me by my home decorating choices (more accurately called mistakes). Right now I’m trying to choose a few paint colors and I just can’t. I can’t. I need a glass of wine and a treat. Thankfully, that I can do, and easily, too, with Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Pizzettes. These little one bite snacky hors d’oeuvres are meant to use up the scraps from the other week’s Sunny-Side Up Apricot Pastries. Homemade puff pastry (heck, even store-bought– it’s expensive!) is a no-waste situation. I only made two of the apricot pastries so I really didn’t have a whole lot of scrap to go with here and just got six pizzettes. Even so, I made two versions with goat cheese– one with tomato and the other with sautéed leeks. I’m annoyed that I forgot to put a little parsley leaf on top of each tomato one…my picture would have been cuter! See what I mean? I fail on the design details.
These were a tasty little snack with glass (or two) of wine. They were best warm, though. The room temp one I tried had definitely lost some of its crispiness.
Tags: baking, savory, snacks
Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s Savory Wheat Crackers were a nice little snack to munch on with a chilled glass of wine this past (very fine) weekend. I’ve made crackers before…here, for instance. Also, in the restaurants I’ve worked in, pastry always had to make the crackers to go with the cheese plates. Rolling cracker dough out with a pasta machine (or a sheeter like we had at my first job) is my pro tip from those days. It gets them super thin, although you have to use a fair amount of flour to not shred the dough in the roller. I took these to the second thinnest setting in my machine and then topped my crisps with nigella seeds, ground coriander and fleur de sel. This whole wheat cracker dough is super basic….no leavening necessary. It comes together with a whiz in the food processor, although my dough was a little sticky, so I added some supplemental AP flour to make it behave. The recipe makes a lot of dough…even the half recipe I made yielded tray after tray of crackers! They have to be rolled, cut and baked in batches. It was like a Nabisco factory in my kitchen on Sunday. Actually, I forgot to cut two of the trays before I put them in the oven– I just broke those into big shards after they were cool. Real Nabisco would so fire me. You need a ripping hot oven for these and will likely have to tack on a few minutes to the stated baking time. My crackers took 6-7 minutes to bake through, rather than the three minutes in the recipe. One minute too many, though, and the crackers will be charcoal (and yes, I did torch a tray myself)! I made a little spread out of famer’s cheese and flowering chives to snack on with these crackers. I have lots more to eat up, so I’ll have to think up some other ideas. For the cracker recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: appetizers, savory, snacks
I’ve been trying to lay off the sweets a bit lately. No more dessert every night, I’ll mostly keep that to weekends. This is because I can tell my trainer would like it if I dropped a few pounds. The things I do for this guy….I even got up early to run a 5K on Sunday! He’s right of course, and he has made me strong, so at least that running was a piece of cake (unlike the cake I’m not eating).
I do miss baking stuff more than once a week, though, so it’s nice to have a little savory project to put together. To tell the truth, these Scallop and Pesto Purses, courtesy of Gale Gand, were more of a quick assembly task than a real baking project. Take a nice, fat sea scallop and a schmear of pesto, bundle it up in a phyllo dough wrapper and pop it in the oven. These purses are intended to be elegant appetizers, but I will probably never have a dinner party sophisticated enough to serve them (pigs in a blanket, anyone?). After I snapped this photo, I put a few of them together on each plate with a bit of salad, and we had them as dinner…with the rosé, obvi. They were really tasty and the scallops cooked nicely inside (which I was worried about since I couldn’t really tell what was going on in there). The juices from the scallop did make the bottom of the purses soft, but we were knife and forking it, so it wasn’t a big deal.
I pounded together a little bit of parsley pesto for these in my new mortar and pestle. It was my first time making pesto this way– normally I use the food processor– and it was so good, I made more a few nights later for pasta.
Tags: food, giveaway, savory, snacks
As a kid, getting breakfast for dinner was a rare and exciting treat. As an adult, I can do this any darn time I please, but it still hasn’t lost it’s excitement factor. Clearly I’m not alone in this, because there’s a new book called Breakfast for Dinner by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth. This book has savory takes on pancakes and waffles, lots of egg dishes and even breakfast for dessert, but these Maple-Glazed Meatballs– like breakfast sausage doused in syrup– were what I wanted to try first.
These meatballs are flavorful and moist. Because of their sweetness, I wouldn’t pair these with pasta, but they make a great app or a perfect TV snack.
I want to send a copy of Breakfast for Dinner to one of you! Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 4:00 pm EST on Friday, March 8 and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list. Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you.
***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate a random comment number to find the winner. It selected comment 18, so congratulations to AnnaZed. I’ll be sending your book soon!***
Maple-Glazed Meatballs– makes about 24 meatballs
from Breakfast for Dinner by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth
Steph’s Note: The original recipe called for ground pork, but I used ground chicken instead. If you do, too, you may find that you need to add extra tablespoon of so of breadcrumbs and give the mix about a 30 minute rest in the fridge before portioning into meatballs.
for the meatballs:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground pork (or ground chicken)
1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground fennel
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
for the glaze:
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
-Line a baking sheet with foil.
-Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion. Cook until translucent, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in apples, ginger and garlic. Cook 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
-In a large bowl, combine pork, egg, breadcrumbs, milk, maple syrup, fennel, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper. Add the cooled onion mixture. Mix with your hands until uniform. Roll by tablespoonfuls into 1-inch balls, or use a small ice cream scoop to portion. Arrange on prepared sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
-Preheat oven to 400°F.
-For the glaze, whisk together maple syrup, tomato paste, apple juice and vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
-Brush meatballs with half of glaze. Bake 10 minutes. Brush with remaining glaze. Bake 5 to 7 minutes longer or until cooked through (internal temperature of 160°F. Serve warm.
Please note that the publisher, Quirk Books, sent me a copy of this book.
Tags: breakfast, snacks
It was hard for me not to make this week’s FFWD recipe. It’s toast– heck, I can make time for that! Toast with yummy stuff on top, that is. This tartine is a thick slice of brioche with butter, marmalade, Nutella, nuts and salt. You could buy everything and simply assemble it, but I happened to have a couple of the components in homemade form (but already on hand). I still had some homemade brioche in the freezer, and over the holidays, my BFF and I made a big pot of mixed-citrus marmalade to give to family. A bit of sweet, a bit of sour and a bit of salt…this is toast at its finest. Dorie says this is a typical after-school snack for French children, but I ate mine for breakfast. Then I went to the dentist and he found no cavities. Breakfast of champions.
Tags: baking, snacks
If you are looking for one of the easiest hors d’oeuvres ever, then look no further than Mustard Bâtons. Not only are they dead easy, they’re dead tasty, too. Take some ready-made puff-pastry, smear it with strong Dijon mustard and fold it over to encase the mustard. Then cut it into strips, eggwash and sprinkle with seeds or salt or pepper or whatever and bake until golden, crispy and flaky. Voilà! Enjoy with a glass of wine.
Tags: baking, savory, snacks
This month we had our first “Alternative” Daring Bakers’ Challenge! Natalie from Gluten A Go Go and Shel of Musings From the Fishbowl teamed up to bring us a two-part challenge. The first part involved making homemade lavash. Lavash are thin Armenian-style crackers. They are very popular here in Australia, and packets go for big bucks in the gourmet stores. Funny how easy it is to make them yourself! Lavash are great with cheese, but the second part of this challenge was to concoct a vegan and gluten-free spread or dip to go with them.
Lavash dough is a simple yeasted dough, rolled out thin and often sprinkled with a seedy topping. We were allowed to flavor the dough itself if we so desired, so I subbed a couple of tablespoons of the bread flour for wheat germ. This gave the baked crackers a subtle, almost Wheat Thins-like flavor. I made a full batch of the dough and divided it into two pieces–one to use straight away, and one to park overnight in the fridge. I used different toppings and made a different spread for each.
When it came time to roll the dough, I busted out my pasta machine (for the first time since moving to Sydney, so I was glad to actually have used it and justified its move). I’ve made some form of cracker in every restaurant I’ve worked in, and have always used a pasta machine to roll them out. It makes such quick work of it and is the easiest, least frustrating way to get your crakcers paper thin. Use the lasagna sheet section, work with one bit of dough at a time, and take it down to the thinnest setting.
For my first batch of cracker, I rolled out long, wide pieces that I sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds, cumin seeds, cayenne pepper and Kosher salt before baking (brushing on a little water first acts as glue for the topping). I simply broke these big pieces into more manageable shards after baking. I served them with a chunky avocado relish with heaps of cilantro, lemon juice and spices.
For my second batch of cracker, I got a bit more fussy. Instead of just baking off big pieces in whatever form they took when rolled, I used a pastry wheel to cut them into rectangular crackers. I sprinkled them with poppy seeds and Maldon salt. I had a huge bag of fava beans (a.k.a broad beans) from the farmers’ market, so I took about half of them and whizzed them into a dip for this batch of lavash.
I was really pleased with challenge! The lavash and dips made perfect pre-dinner snacks (with a glass of wine, not too shabby!). And how impressed would your friends be if you served them homemade crackers at a dinner party?
Check out the DB blogroll! And visit Gluten A Go Go or Musings From the Fishbowl for the lavash recipe (which was adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart). I made my two spreads pretty much freehand, but the basic procedures are below.
Chunky Avocado Relish
leafy green herb (such as basil or cilantro)
juice of half a lemon
olive or avocado oil
ground spices to taste (I used garam masala, cayenne, and cumin)
salt and black pepper to taste
-Scoop out the avocado and dice into chunks. Chop your herb. In a small bowl, make a dressing from the lemon juice, a slight splash of oil, the spices and salt and pepper. Add the avocado and herb to the bowl and toss gently to mix.
Fava Bean Dip
1 1/2 cups fava beans, shelled from the outer pod
1 clove of garlic
leafy green herb (such as basil, parsley or cilantro)
squirt of lemon juice
salt and black pepper to taste
-Bring a medium pot of water to the boil. Blanch the fava beans for about thirty seconds, remove with a slotted spoon and shock in ice water. Pop the garlic clove, peeled or unpeeled, into the boiling water and blanch for about 1 minute (this just helps take the edge off the raw garlic).
-Pop the papery outer skins off the blanched fava beans and discard. Peel the garlic clove if you haven’t already, and rough chop.
-Put the fava beans, garlic, lemon juice, herbs, splash of olive oil, salt and pepper into a mini food processor. Pulse until it’s the consistency you like (you can use a couple tablespoons of water to thin out, if needed). Taste for seasoning.