|It started simply enough. I got a mixer with a dough hook and started making my own bread. It tasted great and I enjoyed making it which got me thinking what else could I make on my own? Pasta, preserving and candy were soon to follow.
Vanessa Barrington had similar epiphany but has taken it to the next level with "D.I.Y Delicious" her latest cookbook will alter how you think about homemade food. Vanessa will teach you how to make your own yogurt, butter, condiments, breads, pickles and even crackers. The simplicity of the recipes will surprise you as will the improvement over their store-bought equivalents. And if you have any doubts on how or when to use some of these items, no worries, DIY Delicious includes recipes to use many of the homemade items.
When I began making bread my husband loved having fresh baked bread around, but I'm not sure he appreciated the fresh pasta or various preserves just as much. "Can't you just buy them at the store?" He would ask. I think Vanessa's 'Cornmeal, Parmesan, and Poppy Seed Crackers" have changed his mind. Crackers are certainly not something you'd immediately think of making at home but these great tasting crackers make an impression store bought crackers never will. The crackers are supposed to last up to two weeks, but I can assure you this is not an issue as they will be eaten well before that time.
I can't wait to try out more of Vanessa's recipes starting with homemade mustard and butter.
Cornmeal, Parmesan, and Poppy Seed Crackers
From D.I.Y. Delicious: Recipes and Ideas for Simple Food from Scratch by Vanessa Barrington (Chronicle Books, 2010)
You won't believe how easy it is to make your own crackers and you'll feel great knowing that you can pronounce all of the ingredients. Crunchy cornmeal combined with the umami savoriness of Parmesan makes these true crowd pleasers. They're neutral enough to pair well with cheese, but flavorful enough to stand alone. The dough is sturdy and easy to work with. Feel free to experiment by adding spices, herbs, or different types of cheese.
Time Required: about 15 minutes active; 45 minutes passive
Yield: about 14 ounces
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup lightly packed finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons Cultured Butter or store-bought, softened
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- Salt for topping (use flaky fleur de sel or other fancy salt if you have some; otherwise, kosher is fine)
Put the 1 cup flour, cornmeal, 3/4 cup cool water, the cheese, butter, and kosher salt in a food processor and process until the mixture forms a ball, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the processor, cover with a towel to prevent drying, and let the dough rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. If you have a pizza stone, preheat that as well. If not, a baking sheet will work fine, but there's no need to preheat it.
Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough very thinly and evenly, flipping it over and continuing to roll while adding more flour as needed if the dough sticks. Stop rolling just short of 1/8 inch thick. Sprinkle the dough lightly with the poppy seeds and flaky salt and continue to roll just to embed the salt and seeds into the dough. Cut into strips about 2 inches wide and poke the strips evenly in several places with the tines of a fork. Using both hands, pick up either end of each strip carefully and lay it down on the pizza stone. Bake until the crakers begin to brown and become crisp, keeping in mind that the crackers will continue to crisp up as they cool. If they don't crisp up properly after they cool slightly, you can put them back in the oven for a few minutes. Total baking time takes about 12 minutes on a stone and 15 to 18 minutes on a baking sheet. You will need to bake in two or three batches.
Let the crackers cool completely and break them into irregular shards of the desired size and shape. Store in an airtight container. Will stay crisp for up to 2 weeks at room temperature.
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.