Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cheddar Crackers . . . and early-spring planting starts!

Though dainty in size, these fresh crackers pack a wallop of cheddar. Now these do taste like they descended from the heavens and not from a supermarket packet. But that's not the only reason why I try to make most of what we eat from scratch. Concocting my own is just way more gratifying than opening prepackaged boxes. The sights, sounds, and fragrance of a well-used and appreciated kitchen fosters fun, learning, and accomplishment.

These beauties are both crisp and fondant (tender)!

makes several cups
recipe adapted from here
  • Cheddar, extra-sharp, grated, lightly packed, 473 ml/two 8 oz cups
  • Flour, 237 ml/one 8 oz cup
  • Butter, 57 grams  (4 T or 2 fluid oz)
  • Salt, 1/2 tsp
  • Milk, 2-3 T

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C/375 degrees F. Combine flour and salt. Add the butter, tossing so as to coat it. Right in the bowl, cut butter into chunks using a knife. Using your fingertips (clean of course!), work the butter into the flour until the texture is similar to very coarse cornmeal.

I used double the butter by mistake! A bit rich, but still just fine

Add the cheddar. If grated finely it probably will result in crackers less mottled than mine.

Coarsely grated cheddar

Knead the cheddar into the butter and flour mixture which should take less than a minute. Add the milk, tablespoon by tablespoon, while tossing the mixture making sure your fingertips get under the dough to feel for excess moisture. Use just enough milk to allow the dough to form a mass when it is lightly pressed against the bowl. Knead a few times to form a ball, divide into two, and refrigerate at least fifteen minutes.

One ball can be frozen for later use. Or you could roll out both balls and freeze one tray of the squares (once frozen, they can be put in a freezer bag). On a floured board or a pastry silicon mat, roll out to .3 cm (1/8 inch) thick. Using a pizza cutter or knife (a straight edge would come in handy also), cut into 2.5 cm/1 inch squares. Gather any scraps into a ball and roll those out. Dock (to let out steam so they don't get too puffy) each one in the centre with the back of a wooden toothpick.

Shortly after putting them into the oven I realised they weren't docked so out they came.

Bake about ten to twelve minutes. The edges and bottoms should be nicely browned. Let cool. They can be stored in jars and will keep well in the fridge for several days.

Each one was a delight to eat. Before I knew it they were gone.

In the potager, the daffodils are out!

Our nursery order arrived last week. The annual herbs and lettuce are just beginning to poke out in their mini-cold-frame while sweet red peppers have yet to do so in their mini-hothouse. The strawberries have been transplanted into well-hilled mounds in their bed and the Moroccan mint/common thyme in pots. The fifty or so seed-potatoes are soaking up sunshine on the sous-sol's window sill. Once the soil dries out a bit, in goes the peas, spinach, carrots, beets, parsnips, garlic, shallots, onions, and leeks.

Chitting, that is sprouting, takes about a month

À la prochaine!

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