I WILL CRACKER YOU UP

THIS IS MY 1,400th BLOG POST!

Crackers are a lot of fun to make and bake. Ok, there is the rolling step to consider but if you are not too wild about a rolling pin and elbow grease, a pasta machine attachment can do wonders for the ones that need to be super thin. Today I share four recipes. Salted Egg Yolk Crackers and Moroccan Tortitas are quite unusual, different from any kind I’ve ever had. A copy-cat version of a Trader Joe’s favorite is a bit more involved to make but pretty amazing to eat. And finally, a lightning-fast Sourdough Cracker that can be made quite dramatic with a small amount of charcoal powder. Grab your flour, and let’s get crackin’!

SALTED EGG YOLK COOKIES
(from Dana’s Wakeandbakemama)

240g plain flour
15g cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon milk powder
4 salted egg yolks (use this recipe to make them)
170g butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
85g sugar

Topping:
1 egg yolk + a little water for wash
1 tablespoon each of black and white sesame seeds

Make the egg yolks at least one day in advance, preferably a couple of days, so they are nice and dry. Once it is ready, smash with fork or pastry cutter until crumbled and set aside.

In separate bowl, sift flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and milk powder. In the mixer bowl, add butter, salt and sugar. Mix until well incorporated. Add smashed salted egg yolks and sifted flours until well combined. Chill dough for a few minutes. If it gets too cold it will crack easily. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick and use any cutter you desire. Place them on lined cookie sheets and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place sesame seeds in a small bowl and mix. Remove cookies from refrigerator and brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Dana called them cookies, and it’s true, they are cookies. But their flavor is so unique, I see them quite well as “crackers”, going well with sweet or savory items. They are addictive, with a very intriguing texture. Definitely, the salted egg yolk talking. For people who bake macarons often (if the shoe fits, I better wear it), salted egg yolks are a great ingredient to play with.

MOROCCAN TORTITAS
(slightly adapted from The Jewish Journal)

3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 tsp anise oil
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tsp baking powder
2 and a half cups all-purpose flour

In large bowl on stand-up mixer, mix eggs, sugar and oil until well blended. Add the anise extract, seeds and baking powder and mix. While mixing, add flour half a cup at a time and continue to mix until the dough forms a ball. You may not need all the flour, or you may need a little bit more, it all depends on the size of your eggs and the moisture of the flour. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 F. Divide dough in tennis ball-size pieces. Roll out dough as thinly as possible, a pasta rolling machine works great. Pierce dough with fork or decorating tool. Cut into squares or use cookie cutters to cut in circles. Bake on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet for 15 minutes or until golden. Let cool for several hours, as they get crunchy as they fully dry.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Don’t let the humble look of these crackers prevent you from making them. Much like the Salted Egg Yolk version, you will grab one and go back to munch on another. Fantastic with hummus. I made them twice, first time with a pasta roller machine (the ones in the photo), second time rolling by hand. They turned out slightly thicker when rolled by hand, but equally delicious. They keep very well at room temperature.

TRADER JOE’S CRACKERS WITH RAISINS AND ROSEMARY
(from Luci’s Morsels)

1/2 cup raisins or currants
1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup almonds
1/2 cup each white and whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 + 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
extra salt for top

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray one large bread loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine raisins, seeds, and almonds in a small bowl. Stir to combine, and reserve. In a large bowl, combine flours, rosemary, baking soda, salt, buttermilk, and syrup. Mix in fruit, nuts, and seeds. Pour batter into loaf pan. Sprinkle top with salt.

Bake 35 minutes until top is firm. Let bread come to room temperature. Wrap in plastic wrap or foil. Place in freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight. The cold bread helps with thinner slicing.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove bread from freezer. Let sit 10 minutes to thaw slightly. With a serrated knife, cut 1/8-inch slices. Slices should be as uniform as possible. Place slices cut side down on an ungreased pan. Bake 8-10 minutes until crackers are a deep golden brown and corners start to crisp. Let cool completely for best texture.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Whenever we have a chance to stop by Trader Joe’s, we get a couple of boxes of their delicious crackers. I am usually disappointed with copy-cat recipes, but I love these crackers so much, I decided to give the recipe a chance. I am very glad I did. Off all the versions I am sharing today, this is by far the most involved. Think about biscotti, but even a little worse because you need to cut the slices very very thin before the second baking. As you place the slices in the oven for the second bake, pay attention to how they are baking, because small variations in thickness will affect the outcome. Chances are you will have to remove some crackers before others are done baking. For my taste, these crackers are very close to perfection. Sweet, savory, crunchy, they are perfect with any type of cheese or jam.

My dear friend Heather from California designed a recipe for another copy-cat version of a wonderful cracker, the brand is called Raincoast, maybe you’ve seen them in grocery stores. They can be super expensive, actually. Her recipe, which she called Suncoast Crisps, is another big winner, but I don’t feel it’s fair to share it. It took her quite a bit of work to perfect it, so I will leave it as a teaser…. These have pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and pecans.

20 MINUTE SOURDOUGH CRACKERS
(slightly modified from Phil’s Home Kitchen)

50g sourdough starter
50g bread flour
2g fine salt
charcoal powder to achieve desired color (1/2 tsp or more)
cold water to mix
olive oil
sesame seeds, black and white

Heat the oven to 400F. Mix the starter, flour, salt and charcoal powder in a bowl. Add enough water to give a soft but not sticky dough. Knead for a moment until smooth, but you do not need to knead the dough as fully as you would for full bread.

Take pieces of dough and either roll it by hand or pass it through the pasta machine: start with the widest setting 0, increasing a setting at a time until you get to two-settings before the last, thinnest one. That ensures a thin enough dough that won’t tear. You can bake it in large pieces and then break them in random shapes, or if you roll it by hand, make the dough thicker and cut in diamonds, squares, or circles. Brush the surface very lightly with olive oil and immediately sprinkle sesame seeds all over.

Bake over parchment paper for 10 minutes, turning the pieces over after 7 minutes or so. If baking large pieces uncut, cool completely before breaking them.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

The composite above shows the two types of dough, rolled by pasta machine, very thin, or rolled by hand and cut in diamonds. The dough rolled in the machine will give a very crisp texture, whereas the other one will still retain some bread quality in it.

I cannot quite pick a favorite in this group, I really like them all. I make the sourdough version more often because it is so easy. The starter does not even have to be fully active. Stop by Phil’s blog for instructions on how to use regular yeast, if you prefer. One of my goals is to bake Ak-Mak from scratch, but that has proven quite tricky. I found a couple of recipes online but they were not even remotely close to the real thing. I am tempted to improvise from the ingredients list in the box, but have not yet gathered the energy for it. Stay tuned, if I get to Nirvana, I’ll share my recipe with you. Come to think of it, I might enlist the help of Heather to reach my goal…

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THAI-STYLE TURKEY & ZUCCHINI MEATBALLS WITH SPICY GLAZE

We arrive at mid-November and I must tell you that this simple recipe goes into the top 10 of this crazy year. For sure. I used the air-fryer, but it can be made in a regular oven adjusting time and temperature as I mention in the recipe. It was simple to put together, short list of ingredients, great flavor.

THAI-STYLE TURKEY & ZUCCHINI MEATBALLS WITH SPICY GLAZE
(from The Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by several sources)

for the glaze:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup water
50g granulated sugar (about 1/4 cup)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce (optional, but advisable)
1 tbsp sambal oelek
2 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp cold water

for the meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey (dark meat preferred)
1 cup zucchini, grated and squeezed as dry as possible
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten

Make the glaze. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce to a non-stick pan. Heat while stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for about 3 minutes in medium-low heat. Add the sambal oelek, mix stirring gently until the sauce starts to thicken (about 3 minutes).

Make a slurry with the cornstarch and water, add to the sauce. Simmer, constantly stirring for another couple of minutes. The sauce will thicken quite quickly. Remove from heat, pour into a small bottle or bowl, cool and refrigerate until needed.

Make the meatballs. Combine the zucchini, ginger, cilantro, lime zest, salt, pepper, ground turkey and almond flour and mix them well with your hands. Add the beaten egg and gently finish incorporating it all. Mixture will be a bit loose. Shape as 12 golf-sized balls. Place over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer. If they seem too fragile to move around, stick them in the freezer for 10 minutes, it will not affect their roasting, maybe require just a couple of extra minutes.

Heat the air fryer to 390°F, and keep your regular oven at around 300F to keep the meatballs warm as you finish them. If not using an air-fryer, set your oven to 400F to roast the meatballs.

In the air-fryer, they will be ready in about 12 minutes, flip them over mid-way through. In a regular oven they will take 20 to 25 minutes.

As soon as the meatballs are finished cooking, coat them with the spicy glaze. If preparing them in batches, keep the first batch in a 300F oven as you cook the second batch. Serve with your favorite side dish, steamed rice and/or vegetables.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The glaze is the same kind used to dip Spring rolls made with rice paper. You can conceivably buy it ready in the grocery store, but making it from scratch is easy and the pay off is huge. If you like it really hot, add a touch of cayenne. For us, it was the perfect level of heat. Sambal oelek is a wonderful ingredient to keep in the fridge.

As to the zucchini, better avoid using a food processor to shred it. There is something about the size and texture of grating by hand that makes it perfect to combine with the meat. The only variable to keep in mind is the amount of water retained in the zucchini. Squeeze as much as you can, but consider increasing the amount of almond flour to have a consistency that allows you to form the meatballs. Use your intuition.

The meatballs can be formed in small size and served as appetizer with small lettuce leaves to grab them. We enjoyed them as a regular main dish, with white rice and sugar peas made in 5 minutes. Those must go into a future Incredibly Easy post. Stay tuned!

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HOME BAKERS COLLECTIVE WARM UP FOR THANKSGIVING

If you are like me, and learned how to ski as an adult, you are familiar with that fear as you slide downhill catching speed and see curves coming up, trees on both sides, overwhelmed by that feeling of “this might not have a happy ending.” That is pretty much what 2020 feels like. Eleven months and counting of sliding downhill feeling out of control. But 2020 cannot rob us of Thanksgiving. There are many things to be grateful for, including the fact that we are still hanging on to the ski poles, and braving the elements. To warm us all up for my favorite American holiday, the Home Bakers Collective got together to share a few recipes inspired by the season. Here is my little contribution. Pumpkin Crackers and hummus. To start your meal on a festive note.

PUMPKIN CRACKERS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the white dough:
60g all-purpose flour 1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
about 2 tablespoons water

for the pumpkin dough:
50g all-purpose flour
10g pumpkin flour (or all-purpose)
1 tablespoon pumpkin puree (canned)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
about 1 tablespoon water

Hheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking pan by lining with parchment paper.

Make the white dough: in a small bowl, combine all ingredients and knead by hand to form a dough. Adjust water, you don’t want the dough to be too sticky. Reserve.

Make the pumping dough by mixing all the ingredients, again adjusting with more all-purpose flour in case it is too sticky (the pumpkin puree will add quite a bit of moisture). Reserve.

Allow both balls of dough to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Divide each dough in two and marble the two colors. Roll each piece very thinly, the best way is using a pasta rolling machine or Kitchen Aid attachment, but you can definitely do it by hand. Cut in pumpkin shapes using a cookie cutter or simply in small pieces.

Bake for about 10 minutes, depending on how thin you rolled them, until they start to get brown and crisp. They will get slightly harder as they cool. Serve with your favorite dip.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Pumpkin flour is a great ingredient when you want to get flavor without adding too much moisture. It works well in cookies also. Since it contains no gluten, it behaves completely different from all-purpose flour. You will have to play a bit with the dough to get a similar texture in both the white and pumpkin components. As usual when you marble two colors, the dark will be dominant, so keep that in mind. You can always use more of the white dough and marble with 1/4 of the amount of dark. The recipe I shared makes a small batch of crackers. Since it is just me and the husband around, I did not want to make a huge amount. The recipe will double easily.

For the pumpkin hummus, visit my old blog post with a click here. And of course, stop by The Home Bakers Collective to see what everyone else decided to share. One blink of the eye and Thanksgiving will be here. Make sure you keep you and your loved ones safe.

(post might take a couple of hours to be published in the Collective, check later if not yet there)

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PRUE LEITH’S SMOKED SALMON AND BEETROOT BLINIS

This recipe was chosen by Prue as a technical challenge for the Great British Baking Show last year. Of course, small details in the preparation are not shared with the contestants, but the online recipe tells you pretty much all you need to know to make them without stress in the comfort of your kitchen.

SMOKED SALMON AND BEETROOT BLINIS
(slightly adapted from Prue Leith’s recipe)

For the blinis:
170g all purpose-flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 large egg, separated
1 tbsp olive oil
220ml whole milk

For the topping:
100g cooked beetroot
1 tsp hot prepared horseradish
pinch of crushed sea salt
125g cream cheese
smoked salmon, flaked
¼ lemon

Make the blinis. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre, then add the egg yolk and the olive oil and whisk, drawing in the flour. Slowly add the milk, whisking to a smooth batter.

In a separate bowl, using a hand-held electric blender, whisk the egg white to stiff peaks, then gently fold them into the batter.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Once the pan is hot, spoon 1 tablespoon of the batter into the pan and cook for 1–2 minutes, until the edges are set and the mixture is bubbling. Turn the blini over and cook until golden brown on the other side, then place on a wire rack to cool. Cook in batches using the remaining batter until you have 12 blinis. Set aside to cool.

For the topping, place the beetroot, horseradish cream, salt and 50g of the cream cheese in the bowl of mini food processor and blitz until smooth. Spoon the beetroot mixture into a clean bowl and fold in the remaining 75g of cream cheese, until evenly combined, thick and smooth. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a medium piping tip.

Pipe a swirl of beetroot mixture onto each blini, then top with flakes of the hot smoked salmon. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top, then garnish with fresh dill.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These were very delicious!  I made them as an appetizer for our Valentine’s dinner but as you know, I can be pretty slow to blog on stuff, so you only got to see them as July is coming to an end. Such is life.

The main issue the contestants had with the recipe was cooking the blinis. Many added oil to the pan, and that’s a mistake. Even if it seems like it cooking them on a dry pan will end in tragedy,  that’s how you get the right searing, proper texture and no excess oil as you bite into them. They are delicate, soft, and I find the addition of beets to the cream a real touch of class. Cannot beat that color. Or…should I say cannot “beet” that color?  (ouch!)

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UTTAPAM, WHITE LENTIL AND RICE FLATBREAD


I am back with another recipe using ivory lentils (in case you’ve missed the first one, click here). I had never heard of uttapam, but learned about it in the website of the very company I got the lentils from. They are described as flatbreads, but I suppose little pancakes (or fritters) could work equally well if not better. After all, it is more a batter than a dough, that is poured instead of rolled, and cooked over a griddle, not an oven. In my mind, that gravitates to pancake territory. But flatbread, pancake, fritters… it’s irrelevant. They are delicious. Dangerously so, I should add.

UTTAPAM
(slightly modified from Woodland Foods)

(makes 8 little pancakes)

1 cup Basmati rice
1/2 cup Ivory lentils
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
1 Jalapeno pepper, minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
vegetable oil (I used grape seed)

Thoroughly rinse rice and lentils separately. Place each in large bowl of fresh water and soak for 2 hours.

Drain rice and lentils, and place in blender. Add salt, sugar and baking soda and grind mixture into paste. Add about 1/2 cup water, and continue blending to create thick batter. Transfer mixture to bowl, and set aside to ferment at room temperature for at least 4 to 12 hours.

Combine peas, Jalapenos and cilantro in a small bowl. Heat griddle or nonstick skillet over medium heat and brush with oil. Pour in 2 to 3 tablespoons batter and spread out with back of spoon to create circle 4 inches in diameter. Sprinkle some of pea mixture evenly on top. Cook until small bubbles appear on surface, then flip and cook other side until crisp and golden.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I always feel a bit insecure making ethnic recipes I have zero experience with, but I must say this one turned out excellent, no problems, every step seemed to happen exactly as expected. Plus we both loved the texture and the taste of the little pancakes, that were served with a turkey chili. Sally again takes a ton of liberties with her dinner preparations. Chili made with turkey. Served with little flatbreads from India.  All enjoyed with no remorse whatsoever!

 

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