Holiday Baking – Homemade Crackers

Almost always, making something from scratch is better than anything you can buy at the grocery store.  These crackers are no exception.  Super crispy, super flavor, super fun – and a special addition to any holiday appetizer board (especially with Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves).

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Homemade Crackers
I like them simple – with just salt and pepper sprinkled on them, but if you prefer, sprinkle fennel, sesame, or poppy seeds instead.  Recipe excerpted from Sugar & Salt: Book 2 (The Orange Book).

Dough
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons table salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup water

Topping
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Optional
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and then add the oil and water. Mix together for 1 to 2 minutes until fully combined. If there are still bits of flour in the bottom of the bowl, add more water a teaspoon at a time until the flour is fully incorporated.

Transfer the dough to a floured counter. Cut the dough in half and cover one half with plastic wrap while you roll out the other to a thickness of 1/8-inch. Slice into small squares with a pizza cutter and with a spatula, transfer to a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper and the other optional toppings and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the edges begin to brown and the centers are firm. Repeat with the second half of the dough.

Cool completely and store in an air-tight container.

Makes about 8 dozen crackers

Annie
These crackers also make a special hostess gift, wrapped in a cellophane bag and tied up with some red and white kitchen twine.

New Cookbook!

Announcing Sugar and Salt: Book Two -The Orange Book!  This collection of recipes from my galley and home kitchen will arrive at our door step (or barn step) soon!  Here’s a look at the process….

Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Over the past several months we’ve been getting serious about producing a cookbook, so we made a lot of food.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Some of it was chocolate! And delicious.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Some of it was healthy. And delicious!
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
When we couldn’t hold all of the pieces in our head any longer, we posted it all over the office walls.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
We got to knit. And made a Ball jar cozy (several actually) using Mim Bird‘s pattern.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Occasionally, we made cocktails. They were well timed.
Then Elizabeth made them look pretty in photos.
Then Elizabeth made them look pretty in photos.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
And then we drank them.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Some of us had lemonade instead. And also, one of us got confused.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Then we made Brussels sprouts that were so good we almost didn’t get the photo (because we ate them all while standing at the stove).
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
A lot of words got written and someone had to take a doggie break.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
And then there was more food.

Annie
Now that was fun!

Click Sugar and Salt to order.

Praline Kettle Corn and Smoked Paprika Popcorn – Stove-Top Style

While we are home this week having adventures of the cozy sort, we’ll probably watch another movie and we’ll probably want popcorn to go with it.  The column this week ran with all sorts of popcorn variations that we’ve played with over the years –Lime and Cumin Popcorn, Truffle Sea Salt Popcorn, Curry and Red Pepper Popcorn, Parmesan and Black Pepper Popcorn and Kettle Corn.   All stove-top varieties, because one, it’s so much better and two, it’s so much better for you.

Kettle Corn smaller

Stove-Top Praline Kettle Corn
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup corn kernels
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup sugar
Big pinch sea salt

Have a large bowl ready before beginning.  Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Your pot has to have a lid and if it’s a glass lid that’s super helpful.  Add two corn kernels to the pot and wait for them to pop.  At the same time they pop, the oil will begin to smoke just a little bit.  This means it’s time to add the rest of the corn kernels, pecans, sugar and salt.  You need to add them all at once and stir for just 10 seconds or so.  Make sure to get that lid on before the first one pops, your goal is to just barely coat the popcorn with the sugar.  Cover with the lid and shake the pot with potholders or a kitchen towel holding each handle.  Shake the pot every 20 seconds or so until the popping sounds have diminished to every 1 seconds.  Don’t wait to make sure that all the kernels get popped.  Instead, err on the side of not burning the sugar and a few more unpopped kernels . Immediately transfer the popped corn to the ready bowl.  Use tongs or a spoon to turn the popcorn and distribute the sugar.  Serve with lots of napkins and be careful to wait until the sugar has cooled!

Makes WAY more than you think (about 16 cups)

Smoked Paprika smaller

Stove-Top Smoked Paprika and Lemon Popcorn
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Have both a large bowl and the melted butter ready before beginning.  Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Your pot has to have a lid and if it’s a glass lid that’s super helpful.  Add two corn kernels to the pot and wait for them to pop.    At the same time they pop, the oil will begin to smoke just a little bit.  This means it’s time to add the rest of the corn kernels.  Add the smoked paprika carefully and quickly once the kernels begin to pop.  Cover with the lid and shake the pot with potholders or a kitchen towel holding each handle.  Shake the pot every 20 seconds or so until the popping sounds have diminished to every 1 to 2 seconds.  Immediately transfer the popped corn to the large bowl and drizzle both the melted butter, lemon zest and salt over all.  Use tongs or a spoon to coat thoroughly.  Serve immediately with lots of napkins!

Makes WAY more than you think (about 16 cups)

Popcorn 1 smaller

Annie
Getting ready for movie time!