Cracker Redux

April 2, 2012

Okay so we all saw what happened with the last cracker challenge and ultimately we were not super satisfied with the end result. They were too puffy and doughy. Katie and I both like super crispy crackers, so we tried something new.

Our basic recipe was flour, salt, and enough warm water to bring it together in to a dough. Like other doughs (think biscuits), you need a soft hand with it – work it too hard and it will get gluten-y and tough. Instead work it gently until it just pulls together. It should be springy to the touch and look about like this:

As you can see, I have some flour left over, but it came together with the right consistency without being too sticky. I let it be at this point. If it is still sticky and you’re out of flour, sprinkle in a tablespoon at a time and work it until it feels good. If it’s dry, do the same but with water instead of flour. Also for fun, we added sesame seeds to the dough, which added a nice toasty flavor.

Once your dough is ready, roll it out to whatever thickness you want. Because this has no leavening in it, they will be about as thick as you roll them with a very very slight increase in size maybe.  So roll roll roll.

You can see in the top corner I have a small bowl of flour for sprinkling, and a square-shaped cookie cutter. We did our crackers two ways: One was to cut out individual squares. The other was to roll a large slab and throw it on the pizza stone. Both ways worked equally well, although the pizza stone was faster.

Each cracker or cracker-slab was docked (poked with a fork – this lets the steam out), brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with crushed rosemary and a little salt.

Also because we had more space on the big slab cracker, we added cheese to see how that would work. Turns out it’s flippin DELICIOUS. Once the slab cracker is done, break it up in to shards. A pizza cutter worked okay too if you want more uniform pieces, but I’m impatient so ripping them up worked as well for me.

These crackers turned out to be delicious, crisp, salty, and amazing. I’m NEVER paying $4 a box of crackers again.

Lately the BurbEx team has done a lot to change diet, including eliminating unnecessary carbs. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some carbs. But we didn’t need quite as many as we were consuming. One way of compromising about this was to start making our own cereal, granola bars and today..crackers.

I eat crackers with everything. Tuna. Cheese. Egg salad. You name it, I cracker it. But I thought to myself, why not try and make our own. Brilliant!

So the basic recipe is 2 cups flour, a little salt, a tsp of baking powder, herbs, 1/3 c oil, 2/3 cup warm water.

All the ingredients went in together, so don’t worry about form or figure. I did crush my herbs up with my mortar so that they would be more fragrant.

Once everything was in, I mixed by hand into a soft dough. DON’T overmix. If it starts to feel tough, let it rest for a few minutes and gently begin working it again.

Now there are two ways you can go about making crackers. You can roll it out in to a thin sheet all in one go and either slice with a pizza slicer, knife, or bash-n-chop. You can also do it as a big sheet and break it after cooking.

I chose to roll it out as thin as possible and cut out square shapes.

We oiled and salted our crackers, as well as docked them (forked). We then baked them for 8 minutes until starting to brown. Delish.

Bounty abound

August 7, 2011

Here at BurbEx, we’ve posted a lot about our vegetable garden While it’s had some ups and downs, it is finally starting to produce en masse. Today’s post features two of our most bountiful producers – yellow wax beans and flat-leaf parsley.

Parsley is a great herb that can be used for a large range of foods. For whatever reason, our parsley has grown as if it was the last plant holding the earth together. We dried the first crop, but the second we decided to try making a parsley pesto. The basics of pesto include herbs (typically basil), pine nuts, salt, olive oil, and parmesan cheese.

Start by collecting your herb and pulse it in your processor to break down the parsley.

Once the herbs are broken down a bit, add the rest of your ingredients except for the olive oil.

Then, slowly drizzle in your olive oil until the pesto pulls together in to a creamy consistency.

 

Yum!

The other project we took on was to process our yellow wax beans. While there is a lot you can do with beans, we opted to can them in to dilly beans. Canning is a relatively simple, but it requires some finicky steps. The first step is to boil your jars, rings, lids, and tools. Once your tools are sterilized, you can begin preparing your jars for canning.

While you stuff your jars, prepare your brine. We had approximately 1.25 lbs of beans (topped and chopped to be 1″ shorter than the jar), so we prepared a brine of 1 cup vinegar (white distilled), 1/2 c water, salt, and 4 tbsp of sugar. Bring the brine to a boil while stuffing the jars.

 

In the jars, stuff the beans in tightly. Add in fresh dill, dill seed, peppercorns and garlic.

 

 

After the jars are stuffed and the brine comes up to a boil, ladle the brine in to the jars until it covers the beans by a 1/2 inch, being sure to leave a 1/2 inch of space at the top. The space allows the air to come out and seal the jar when heated.

Place the lids on the jars, tighten the rings, and place the jars in your water bath. We boiled our jars for 15 minutes, plus an additional ten minutes adjusting for altitude. Once boiled, let the jars rest in the bath for five minutes, and then place on a towel for 24 hours. During this time the jars will cool and seal. Check the seals after the 24 hours are up and you have your canned dilly beans!

Veggies Redux

May 8, 2011

Not much to add to today’s post, just pictures of our veggie gardens coming along.

Small box 

 

 

 

 

The total list includes beans, peas, radish, carrot, onion, basil, rosemary, chives, herbal mix, cayanne peppers, habaneros, cherry and grape tomatoes, bistro tomatos, pumpkins, watermelon, and cucumbers. Pending are zucchini, bibb lettuce, and spinach.

In other news, our front gardens are starting to go for it!