Happy New Year Cheese Crackers E. A. T. #26

While noodling around on the internet this week looking for inspiration for a “nosh of note”, I ran across a recipe for “Parmesan Cream Crackers” by Mark Bittman that was published in the New York Times cooking section a few years ago.  Homemade crackers would certainly qualify as a “nosh of note” wouldn’t they? Bittman’s basic recipe has just a few ingredients and from start to finish, 25 minutes/ I had a pan of freshly baked crackers. What could be easier than that?

Encouraged I took the basic recipe and ran with it…first batch I topped with toasted sesame seeds….which thankfully you can now purchase already toasted. Would you like to know how many sesame seeds I have burned up toasting them myself? Thousands I would guess.

The simple dough needs to be rolled out thinly and cut/scored before baking. The second batch I added fresh thyme leaves and red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.

On a roll I whipped up a few other batches using various toss-ins and toppings such as crunchy sea salt, black pepper, espresso cocoa sea salt….

….bittersweet chocolate, chopped pistachios, orange peel and crunchy raw sugar.

Two hours later sheet pans of savory aromatic crackers covered the kitchen counters, ready to accompany a cheese platter along with a few bottles of bubbly for a New Year’s Eve with good, long-time friends…it was as Easy as This.

Note: “Nosh of note” was a quote from my friend, Nancy Vienneau, within an invite to a New Years Eve gathering at her home. Check out her blog at “Good Food Matters”.

Note: You can find the original recipe for “Parmesan Cheese Crackers” by Mark Bittman here..

Happy New Year Cheese Crackers

  • Difficulty: easyasthis
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For basic Parmesan Cheese Crackers:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup cream + more as needed to make dough

For “Toss-ins and Toppings” that I used:

  • toasted sesame seeds
  • thyme leaves and pepper flakes
  • espresso-cocoa sea salt mixture
  • chopped pistachios and orange zest with black pepper
  • bittersweet chocolate, espresso powder, raw sugar and cinnamon
  • any number of other ideas pop into my head…pecans, walnuts, green tea, cayenne, any herbs, cardamom, lavender and lemon zest…use what you might have, what you like, and experiment.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. To a food processor add flour, salt, Parmesan cheese and butter. Pulse to combine.
  3. If you choose to add any “toss ins” do so now, although the original recipe is fantastic as is.
  4. After adding “toss ins”…drizzle in cream while processor is running until a dough forms. If need be, add a wee bit more cream. Dough should be smooth and silky and not at all sticky.
  5. Roll dough out until thin, but workable, on lightly floured surface. Add flour as needed. Transfer dough to parchment lined baking sheet. (You can also simply roll the dough out on a sheet of lightly floured parchment and then transfer to sheet pans to save a step.
  6. Here is where the “toppings” part comes in. Sprinkle on top and gently press into surface of dough.
  7. Using a pastry wheel or knife cut/score dough so you can break into individual crackers after baking.
  8. Bake until golden, light browned…for about 10-13 minutes depending on your oven. Cool on wire rack. You can serve these crackers warm or at room temperature and they can be stored in air tight containers for a few days. They are great with a bowl of soup or as dippers.

teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

recipe adapted from a recipe by Mark Bittman published in the New York Times.

 

” Pink Grapefruit Juice & Coconut Water Cocktail, or Mocktail?”

2015

Here is a somewhat healthy drink to end this year, or to start your 2015 off deliciously.

A mixture of fresh pink grapefruit juice, coconut water, vanilla beans, a honey or agave nectar based simple syrup, seltzer water and a bit of fresh fruit for a garnish with or without a splash of Vodka is pretty healthy…..no?

Totally and absolutely inspired by Donna Hay Magazine  Dec/Jan 2015 Issue.  Pages of beautiful cocktail ideas for the Holiday season..lovely photographs..an intriguing mix of ingredients.

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A Mocktail…no Vodka, a Cocktail with a generous splash!

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I stumbled upon some fresh red cherries in the supermarket. In December? These along with some of my candied Buddha Hand citrus pieces..perfect garnish.

Big chunks of candied citrus. Citrus & honey simple syrup. (Go here for how to make candied citrus and a simple syrup. Any citrus works the same. If you want use either honey or agave nectar.)

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Serve over ice…sip..relax. Here’s a toast to a Happy and Interesting New Year Y’all.

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Pink Grapefruit Juice & Coconut Water Cocktail/Mocktail

  • Servings: 15-20
  • Difficulty: very easy
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20152

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups pink grapefruit juice (fresh)
  • 4 cups coconut water
  • 1 vanilla bean, split to allow seeds to come out
  • 1/2 to 1 cup citrus/agave simple syrup (to taste)
  • 2 bottles of seltzer water
  • Good Vodka for Cocktail, or not for a Mocktail
  • candied citrus peel or candied ginger for garnish
  • fresh fruit – cherries, mango or pineapple chunks for garnish

Directions:

  1. A few hours before serving mix together the grapefruit juice, coconut water, split vanilla bean & simple syrup in a large container. Stir well. For this you can use a punch bowl or glass jar dispenser as I did. Cover and chill.
  2. Meanwhile make garnishes by spearing fresh fruit & candied citrus peel or ginger on a short skewer. Cover & chill.
  3. When ready to serve add seltzer water to the drink container & the Vodka to taste. If you prefer to have “kid or non-alcohol drinker friendly” mocktails add Vodka to individual drinks as desired.

Note: This drink mixture will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week…if it lasts that long! Cut recipe in half for a smaller crowd.

Based on “Fomo” a cocktail recipe in the Dec/Jan 2015 Issue of Donna Hay Magazine. I felt the original version was just too tart for my palate, so I added the simple syrup which gave this drink a more rounded flavor, which brought out the essences of the vanilla & coconut water.

Teresa Blackburn       teresablackburnfoodstyling.com          foodonfifth.com

“Buddha’s Hand Good Luck Marmalade”

  “Buddha’s Hand Citron

Tis the season for citrus…Rio Star Grapefruits, Honey Bells, Clementines, Kumquats…markets have piles & piles of seasonal citrus from all over the world so when I brought my grocery cart to a screeching halt in front of a pile of these fascinating “creatures” earlier this week I knew it was the time to take some Buddha’s Hand Citron home to my kitchen. Upon arriving home I was greeted by our “front porch Buddha” ….I went into the kitchen where there is a photo of a Buddha statue over the sink…(see photo gallery below)…hmmmm..this is  food for thought.

I am very drawn to objects/foods that have an “unearthly” quality…in fact Buddha’s Hands look  like much sea life I have encountered while snorkeling in the Caribbean…they could just as easily be attached to a coral reef as be sitting on my kitchen counter.  What to do with these beauties? For a couple of days I just left them sitting around…they are beautiful in shape & made an interesting centerpiece…they smelled good. They are very popular in China and Japan at New Year’s as they are believed to bestow good fortune on a household. This nugget I learned yesterday so was even more happy to have them just sitting around!

After a bit of surfing I found little in the way of recipes on the internet…uses in salads & a few recipes for preserving…lots of info about the history, origin (China/Japan/India now grown in California as well) folklore & beliefs attached to these hands, but little in the way of recipes….so lack of information led me to …citrus = marmalade.

“Buddha’s Hand Good Luck Marmalade”

A rich caramel colored marmalade with hints of cardamom & balsamic vinegar.

Recipe/Ingredients (this recipe would also work with any fresh, seasonal citrus):

1 Buddha Hand Citron(rinsed & wiped dry)

3 cups raw/or white sugar

1/4 cup of your local honey

4 cups water

1 cardamom pod slightly crushed

1 cup fresh squeezed citrus juice (I use Rio Star Grapefruit & Clementine juice)

2 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar Syrup/Reduction

Instructions:

1. With a vegetable peeler cut the peel & most of the pith (it is not bitter like most citrus) from the Buddha Hand.

2. Into a large enamel or stainless steel pan add the peel-pith, sugar, honey, water, cardamom pod & juice. Stir to mix well. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low & simmer mixture for about 45 minutes until liquid is reduced by a bit more than half. Stir frequently as liquid is reduced & thickens.

3. Remove cardamom pod & stir in balsamic syrup/reduction. Simmer for another 10 minutes or until a candy thermometer reads 220 degrees.

4. While marmalade is cooking sterilize two glass canning jars in hot water or hot oven for a few minutes. Remove from water & dry with a clean towel. Fill jars with rich caramel colored hot marmalade mixture & seal with lids. Let jars cool completely & store in refrigerator until ready to use (keeps for weeks or give away a jar for more good luck).

My “Buddha’s Hand Good Luck Marmalade” ready for my “tea & toast test”.

 Hot buttered toast with marmalade & Chia tea…cozy & yummy..I am feeling lucky with every bite…

Thematic Gallery of Buddhas & Hands:

Food on Fifth front porch Buddha head.
Over the sink Buddha photo.
Dizzy Buddha heads.
Buddha Hand diptych.
Bedside Buddhas - brown wooden Buddha I have had since I was a child...from Uncle James, in Japan.
Not-a-Buddha Hand with rings.
Little Buddha head in a box.
Buddha Hand citron on photo of a hand.
Buddha with serving platter, Malaysia.
Three Buddha Hands on platter.
Two Buddhist monks, Malaysia.
Buddha Head ashtray sighted at an antique mall in Nashville this week. Who knew?

I will end this last post of 2011 with this “Buddha Bar” story that was online this week on NPR:

http://www.npr.org/2011/12/29/143804448/the-real-buddha-bar-tended-by-tokyo-monks

Have a healthy, happy & kind new year….see you in 2012 my friends.