Two things at the grocery store you should be wary of: salad dressings and crackers. They sound so innocent don’t they? Salad, or crackers + cheese, rather than potato chips or ice cream? Next time you’re at the store double check the labels. Some of the higher end versions (if you can get your hands on them) are fantastic, such as Raincoast Crisps. But these will put a serious dent in your bank account if you become addicted! $7-$8 for a box for crackers isn’t a price most of us are willing to pay, and the cheapos are filled with high levels of fat, sodium, sugar, and other preservatives you don’t need to be eating. Some of them are so densely packed with calories you’re almost better off with that bag of chips. We think that just because it’s not fried- it’s better. Not always the case. Read your labels.
Don’t be so lazy. Make your own. Save a buck or two, and learn a few things in the process.
As for salad dressings, I’ll get into that in my next post, I’ve got a couple of really good base recipes you’ll love- you’ll never buy another dressing (or probably even google search another recipe either) because you won’t really need to. And again, as always: fast, and simple.
As for the crackers you can put any kind of spice or seeds and nuts in there, as you all know I like to throw in whatever’s in the fridge or at the back of the cupboard. You don’t need to go out buying special items for these, use your imagination and use up what you have lying around getting stale.
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 TB olive oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1/3 cup water, warm
1/4 tsp dry yeast
1 TB honey
canola oil, for kneading and brushing the back of your baking sheet.
-Preheat oven to 425 F.
-Mix together the flour, salt, olive oil, seeds, and chili flakes in a large bowl, and set aside.
-Mix together the water, yeast, and honey, until completely dissolved.
-Stir your water into the dry ingredients, and note: you may have to add a tsp or two of water, or a pinch or two of flour depending on the dough’s consistency. If it’s extremely sticky: add 1 TB of flour, if it’s a little dry: add 1 TB of water. You want it to be manageable, but a little addition of either/or won’t mess up your crackers!
It doesn’t need to be exact. I post easy recipes, remember?
-Once the dough is combined into a chunky little ball, let it sit for 10 mins.
-Remove the dough onto a lightly oiled surface, oil your hands, and knead it for about 2 mins. If you need to add a little more oil during your kneading go ahead, keep it from sticking all over your hands, you want a smooth ball.
-Set the dough aside in a warm place to rise/proof for about 30-45 mins, or until the dough has doubled in size. As always: our room temperatures vary, so if you’re resting your dough on top of your preheating oven (like I am) it will be fast, if you’re not: it will take longer. For this recipe either way is fine, you aren’t trying to develop flavours through the fermentation process like you would be with a loaf of bread- so faster is fine!
-When the dough has doubled in size punch in down, and flop it out onto an oiled surface again- this time with lots of room to roll it out.
-Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out as thin as you possibly can without it ripping. The dough is very elastic and it will continue to bounce back, so keep rolling it out as thin as you can until you can stretch it over the back of an oiled baking sheet with a little bit of dough hanging over.
-Let this rest for 15-20 minutes so that the dough has time to relax, and it can do whatever shrinking it still needs to do. The dough should still be slightly over the edges of the pan, if it’s not: your crackers will be too thick and chewy. Keep grabbing the edges of the dough and gently pulling it to keep it thin.
-Once the cracker dough is rested and good to go: brush it with a little water and a sprinkling of salt, and then using a sharp knife: cut them into squares or whatever shapes you want. You can leave it as is if you want and just break the cracker into pieces later too, after it’s baked. Whatever you want!
-Bake until they’re golden brown.
-Keep a close eye on them! They will bake at different times depending on how thin you managed to roll them, so I can’t give you a specific bake time. I’m not going to lie: I burned the hell out of my second batch because I walked away for too long!
-Any scraps you have cut off the edges can be rolled out again, rested, and baked. No waste neccessary. Eh…. voila.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy. And you even know what’s in them, no need to be curious or feel guilty 😉
Stay tuned for the salad dressing post- you won’t regret it.
Ciao for now folks, and HAPPY FRIDAY!