December 20, 2012

Rich Cheesy Crackers

This cracker recipe is another one of my favorites from The Homemade Pantry. It makes quite a lot for our three person family, but they will last a week in a tin on the counter and also freeze well. So when I make a batch we can have some now and some for later. A tray of these makes nice nibbling at parties. The original recipe contemplates using a stand mixer, which I don't have. So I whir everything up in my food processor. This does require advance planning because the dough needs to chill at least two hours and they need quite a long time in the oven.

Cheesy Crackers

6 ounces cheddar cheese - grated
3 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes or chunks
1 1/2 Cups flour
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 teaspoons white vinegar (or use cider vinegar if that's what you have)
an ice cube

How to:
Whir the butter, flour and mustard together in the large bowl of your food processor to a smallish crumb (or cut them together by hand with a pastry cutter). Add the cheese and process for a few more seconds.

Put the vinegar and the ice cube in a large measuring cup with 3/4 Cup water.

Add six Tablepoons of that mixture to the food processor and whir around for several more seconds. Add more water a Tablespoon at a time until the dough clobs up into one mass.

Mound the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

When you are ready to bake: Preheat the oven to 325. Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit out about 15 minutes. Then roll it quite thin -- 1/8 to 1/4 inch -- cut with a knife into squares or with a biscuit cutter into rounds. Bake in a greased sheet for 30 minutes or until slightly golden. Turn off the oven and leave the trays of crackers in there while the oven cools (an hour or so).

About timing and storage: Overnight or even a couple of days in the fridge is fine for the raw dough, so you can prepare the dough well ahead if you are making the crackers for a party. To make them even farther ahead, you can freeze the dough and then let it thaw in the fridge before baking. Once baked, the crackers keep fine in a covered container on the counter for a week. If you freeze the finished crackers, you can thaw them and crisp them up with a few minutes (5ish) in a hot oven.

Creme Fraiche

Once you have cultured buttermilk, making creme fraiche is a snap.

One pint heavy cream
3 Tablespoons cultured buttermilk

How to:
Put the cream into a clean jar. Stir in the buttermilk. Rest the lid on top of the jar. Let it sit out at room temperature for 16-24 hours, or until thickened. Then store in the refrigerator for up a week. It really is that easy.

You can use as you would sour cream. Or try a dollop a top a slice of fruit pie. Or on a scone.