Roquefort Crackers

Yet again, another cheese cracker. Obsessive though I may be, there is nothing wrong with adding more cheese crackers to my repertoire. I have learned that I like the slice and bake version of crackers the most because you can make the dough, roll it, and leave it in the fridge until you are ready to bake which makes for easy weeknight baking.

D&D_2038I have also learned to bake a test batch of 2 – 3 crackers if it is a new recipe just to see if the temperature and timing are okay. And I am glad I did that with this recipe.

You see, I had the oven at 400 degrees for another recipe and sliced up the dough for two test crackers on a parchment-lined baking sheet and baked it for the 8 minutes, turning half way through. The color was really good, but the center of the cracker was raw. I let them rest to see if they got a little crunchy as they cooled, but they did not.

So now my idea is to lower the temperature to 375 and baking them a bit longer. Fingers crossed this will work, because I think this might be a really good cracker. We shall see. 

Lo, and behold – the 375 degrees for about 8 minutes worked like a charm. Yippee for test crackers. 

8 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ozs Roquefort, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp cayenne

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and Roquefort until smooth. Add flour and cayenne and mix until smooth.

Divide dough into two pieces and roll into 1 1/2 inch logs. Wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Slice logs in 1/4 inch slices. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake 8 minutes until lightly browned – watch closely. Cool completely.

Source: bonappetit.com/recipes/article/Roquefort-Crackers / California American Cookbook.

This is just the kind of recipe story that I love. Sometimes family stories at just the best.

Needs more cayenne , but that always seems to be the case –  because I am me.

Keeping Recipes …

How do you keep recipes?

I tend to print recipes and keep them in several binders. Then I also have a drive with folders and some are on Evernote and some on my old blog. Some I just know by heart and need nothing to make them – there are many of those. I just spent two evenings this week sorting through recipes (new and old) and along the way, I edited – looked at each recipe and then think, “Will I really make this?” Lots ended up in the recycle bin which makes me feel bad (dead trees) and I need to edit earlier in the process – like before printing.

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Yes, I have a binder for Crackers. No judgement.  See: Cracker Challenge.

I wish I could develop a system that truly works for me, but using cookbooks, family recipes that I know by heart, a few magazines, recipe “ideas” (with no step by step instructions), and things found on the recipe sites I trust, and of course, other blogs – How are you supposed to keep it all straight?

Looking at my photo, I am, obviously, not consistent in the way I make my binder labels.

My first blog, and this one too, were/are a way to keep up with things, but sometimes it gets a bit out of hand. I wander around the house with a stack of recipes I want to try – just printed, pulled from binders, etc. Trying to make them fit into the right time of year makes it even more difficult. Ugh. I am supposing this is a complete first world problem, but I would like to have a set of things to pass down to the Boy and his future wife and their kids. Otherwise, why are we here? You get my genetics by default, but I would love for you to know the recipes that come from different people in our family.

Such as my spinster (yep, they used the word) Aunt Rhodie’s chow chow recipe. She was really my great aunt, my grandmother’s sister and was partially deaf (seems mostly like when she wanted to be – that is what my grandma always said anyway) and never married but lived with my grandmother and grandfather, but she could totally rock the chow chow.  Now the recipe makes gallons so I’ll have to down size it to make it manageable, but is it worth the effort?

I believe it is. Especially when you put that chow chow on black-eyed peas – my favorite way to eat it. Otherwise black-eyed peas – kind of meh. Interesting the only reason I have the recipe is because my mom asked for it. This was my father’s aunt, but my mom appreciated it – probably because it could get me to eat black-eyed peas if for no other reason. I don’t remember my mom ever making it. Can’t blame her. Why do that when Aunt Rhodie+ would do it for us? Just get a few jars from the dug-in-clay basement of my grandmother’s house – which also held the washing machine – clothes were dried on the line out back. There is something really nice about that and I miss it. Clean sheets dried in the wind, so fresh and comforting and a cool clay basement.  Something you do not, nor will ever have, in Florida.

+Rhodie was short for Rosebud. I think Rosebud is so much better, and to be honest, that is what my grandmother called her sister most of the time.

I am going to have to work on the recipe to take it down from gallons into something that I can handle.  This is not the time of year for green tomatoes, but I think this might be my “winter” (winter being a questionable word for us right now) project to make it into something smaller that might work for our family. I also wonder … will it taste like I remember? Lord, I hope so.

 

Parmesan Walnut Crackers

I do love to make crackers. I have a cracker binder. I am guessing not many people have those. I mean a cheese cracker binder. Well, there it is. I just cannot help it, I love cheese crackers. This recipe was my winner in 2012 cracker challenge. Not my best year, but the best crackers. And I keep on making them again and again. dd_1673

8 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ozs freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
big pinch of fresh cayenne

Cream butter and Parmesan and mix well. Stir in flour, walnuts, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Form mixture to 1 inch logs and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days, or longer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Cut log into 1/4 inch slices. Place slices on a baking sheet about 1 inch apart and bake for 20 minutes until edges are golden.

Winner of the cheese cracker challenge. Yes, I do a cracker challenge quite often. So sad. And very geeky. But that is me.

I think I’ll do it in January just for fun with a new set of recipes. Might include cheese straws for this one. Or maybe not. We shall see.

My thoughts on the Cracker Challenge – yep, that sounds slightly weird. Geh.

After the 2012 cracker challenge, I decided to make the ultimate cheese cracker – my own version. I took the following things into consideration: ingredients on hand, time to mix, log or flat, dough handling, time to chill, spice. nuts. flavor, crispiness, cost to make, and it all culminated in an all around winner which was – Parmesan Rosemary Walnut Shortbread.Will make that again, because I really love them. Because growing fresh Rosemary is simply easy – just put it in the garden in a place  that gets lots of sun, but not too much water – read: no sprinkler system.

D&D_1476That said, I took the best qualities from the 5 recipes I used and developed this. I think this just might be my first real recipe on my own – although with a little help. I do freelance in cooking, but baking is a completely different animal.

The cracker challenge sat for a while (until 2016), but now we are going to make my ultimate cracker and see if/how it measures up. I am not growing Rosemary – damn it. But we shall manage. Will soldier on. That is what I do. It is June 2016 and I cannot sleep, so this is what I decided to do. I’ll wear it proudly. It is June 2016 and I cannot sleep, so this is what I decided to do. I’ll wear it proudly.

6 ozs all-purpose flour – yes, we are measuring by weight – why else do I have the damn scale? Thank you Ruhlman.
2 ozs grated cheddar – plus just a bit because that is what I do.
2 ozs finely grated Parmesan – it really seems like a lot but in reality it is not, mostly.
1/2 tsp cayenne – I think next time – more, yes, please – more.
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped, but not too finely
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 ozs (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2” pieces
1 egg yolk, with just a smidge of cold water

First thing, I chop the walnuts in the food processor and since everything else is going to be mixed in there, it is no big deal. Remove the walnuts.

To the food processor, add the flour, and cheeses, cayenne, walnuts, pepper and whir around a bit. Then add butter. Once that is combined, add the egg and water to the top of the dough and just pulse until it comes together. Then add the walnuts back in. Will not be long to come together.

Dump out on waxed paper and press together and then shape into a couple of logs. Chill overnight or up to three days.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Cut the logs in 3/4 inch slices or there abouts. Just try to make the slices very similar to each other. That way they bake the same way. It takes about 12 minutes to bake them, but you need turn them half way through. You want the edges slightly gold and the same with the bottom. That really is as far as you want to go in the baking these cheese crackers.

Hood got a bit of cheese, but the cracker rolls are in the fridge and ready to be baked and in my head, they will be good because the dough was not damn bad.

Nota bene:That is something I have learned – if the dough does not taste good, neither will the cookies or crackers.

 

 

Gruyere Walnut Crackers

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Gruyere Walnut Crackers

I think I may be the only person that makes their own crackers. I’ve been doing this for years and have learned so much from the process. This recipe – if you can call it that – is based on my favorite cheddar cracker recipe and on the cheese cracker challenge of 2012, which was, I have to say, epic.   Again, excellent use of commas. Can not help my self.

So here we go …

6 ozs all-purpose flour – yes, weigh it.
3 ozs Gruyere, grated – do I need to say it again?
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
4 ozs unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
2 Tbs water
2 ozs walnuts, finely chopped

In the bowl of the food processor, chop the walnuts. Remove them and add the flour, Gruyere, salt, and cayenne. Pulse to incorporate. Add butter and pulse until dough is pea sized pieces. Add nuts and pulse until the dough comes together.
Pile crumbs on an unfloured surface and knead a few times to pull the dough together. Roll the dough into two logs about 1 inch in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to three days.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Slice the logs into about 1/4 inch slices. The most important thing is the slices are similar in size. Space the about an inch apart. Bake 12 – 15 minutes, rotating baking sheet half way through. Place on a rack to cool, and the store in an airtight chamber.

I’ve modified one of my favorite cheddar cracker recipe to use a very nice piece of Gruyere I had. I’ve made some modifications to the methodology and to some of the flavorings.

Cheddar Versions:

13 December 2008

1 July 2012

28 December 2013

1 November 2014

Gruyere Version:

24 August 2015

Mrs. Lenkh’s Cheese Sables

I have had this recipe printed and in my cracker binder –  yes, I have a cracker binder, and have had one for donkey’s years. No comments about that because I am just that girl. I Just have never made this until now. It uses way more butter than normal for cheese crackers, but comes together easily. And I let the dough sit in the fridge for a couple of days before baking. That is one thing I like about cracker recipes. Make them and then bake a few days latter … no biggie.D&D_9562

9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. table salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1/8 tsp. baking powder
7 oz. (14 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
3-1/2 oz. (1-1/2 cups) finely grated sharp Cheddar
1-1/2 oz. (1/2 cup) finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional – not really)
1 large egg yolk mixed with a pinch of paprika and 1/2 tsp. water, as a glaze
Kosher or sea salt for sprinkling

Put the flour, salt, cayenne, and baking powder in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse again until the butter is in small pieces, six to eight 1-second pulses. Add the cheeses, pulse, and finally, add the egg and pulse until the mixture just starts to come together.

Dump the dough on an unfloured surface. If you’re using nuts, sprinkle them on the pile of dough. Knead by lightly smearing the ingredients together as you push them away from you with the heel of your hand until the dough is cohesive. Shape the dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for an hour or two to let the butter firm.

Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Heat the oven to 400°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Stamp out shapes or cut shapes with a knife. Arrange 1-inch apart on two ungreased baking sheets. Reroll scraps once and stamp again.

Brush with the glaze and sprinkle lightly with kosher or sea salt. Bake until golden brown and thoroughly cooked inside, about 14 minutes, rotating the sheets from front to back and top to bottom about halfway through. To test, break one in half and look to see if the center still looks doughy. If so, cook for a few more minutes, but be careful not to over bake. Let cool on a rack and store only when completely cool.

Notes: These were only slightly amazing. So light, so crispy. I cannot think of anything I would do different. Except make them again and again.  I really cannot imagine it took me so long to make them.

Source: Fine Cooking. http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/cheese-sables.aspx

Parmesan, Rosemary, and Walnut Shortbread

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Rosemary Parmesan Walnut Shortbread

I don’t really know how I started this cheese cracker thing but I’m glad I did. I mean, when  you have an entire binder for crackers, that may just be a little, well, nuts. I did set up some of my favorites in a competition of sorts in 2012 and judged on the following:

  • Time to Mix / Log or Rolled out
  • Dough Handling / Time to Chill
  • Spicy / Nuts
  • Flavor
  • Crispy
  • $
  • All Around

These are by far my favorite cheese crackers. The taste is divine, texture excellent, and they keep quite well. Hence winner of the cracker challenge of 2012.  I honestly wonder why I make any others, but I enjoy experimenting. I have collected other recipes since then and need to stage the competition again –  perhaps this year.

8 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ozs freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbs fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted at 350 for 10 minutes, chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper

Cream butter, add Parmesan and mix well. Stir in flour, rosemary, walnuts, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Form the mixture into 1″ logs, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an half an hour or up to three days.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Cut logs into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place slices on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden at the edges. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 30. Source: Epicurious

14 May 2006 – Mom’s Day
1 July 2012 – Winner of the Cracker Challenge 2012
23 December 2013 -Christmas Eve
2 March 2015
7 March 2015 – just because I wanted more.

Now my goal is to create one of my own and I know it will include cheddar cheese, and perhaps some Parmesan, nuts – walnuts likely, cayenne, and rosemary.