Crackers by Crackers

Yep. My lily white ass whipped up a batch of homemade crackers. (Garlic Paprika Peppercorn, to be precise.) Seems awfully bourgeois, right? It is. But it was worth it. See? A whole bowlful of crispy deliciousness.

And taking glamour shots of crackers also strikes me as odd, but that didn't stop me. Check out this sexy cracker, lounging [dirty] spoonside:

Anyway, the crackers were dead easy to make. A beauty of a dough recipe compared to my recent endeavors--pizza dough, pasta dough, sweet rolls. Thankfully, Carbfest 2008 is coming to a close, but it's bittersweet. This wild ride of refined grains has been fun, but it has to end. And what better way to say goodbye to dietary diabetic risk factors than with snappy crackers??

I think the combo of coarse-cracked pepper, minced garlic and smoky paprika was pretty spot-on. And it also gave the crackers a nice rosy color. That said, you can use any seasoning combination that gets you going. I am thinking rosemary crackers would be nice, but I don't have any rosemary and I use the stuff far too infrequently to buy a jar. Parmesan and thyme also sounds pretty tasty. I conceived of a curry powder infused cracker, but thought that might be a little too crazy.

The recipe I used comes from Jennie at Straight From the Farm, who in turn adapted it from A New Old-Fashioned Gal. Here it is, with my notes in bold.
  • 2 ½ c. flour
  • 3 t. dried herbs/seasonings (I used a scant tablespoon of cracked pepper, a tablespoon of paprika, and two cloves of garlic very finely minced)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (Make sure you add enough oil, I'd maybe recommend even a bit more, because it will help the crackers crisp up. I ended up smearing a coat of oil over some of the dough to help things along.)
  • ¾ cups cold water (I needed a bit more water than that)
  • coarse salt for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Mix dry ingredients. Add the oil and half of the water (and if using something wet like fresh garlic, add here) and mix. Add water as necessary to form a rough dry dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead just until it comes together into a cohesive ball.

Divide dough into even quarters. On a silicone mat or piece of parchment paper, roll dough as thin as possible until it’s nearly the size of a baking sheet. (My dough was so elastic that it was damn near impossible to do this on top of parchment, so I rolled it on the countertop, then transferred. I also couldn't get the dough to roll out anymore after a certain point, which might explain why I got fewer crackers.)

Cut the dough into squares or other desired shape and use a fork to prick each square two or three times. (Forgot to prick.) Sprinkle with course sea salt. (After sprinkling, did a once over with the rolling pin to anchor the salt grains--a stroke of brilliance, I thought.)

Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown, turning the sheet once half way through. (Here I got really impatient and took two batches out too early. Had to return them to the oven later.) While the first batch is baking, roll out another quarter of dough. Let baked crackers cool before breaking apart. Store in a ziplock bag.

(makes about 5 cups of crackers) (I only got 3, maybe? What did I do wrong??? Oh well.)

They came out well despite a few minor difficulties that I can almost certainly blame myself for. And I got the idea to spread them with something tasty! An improvised feta and sun-dried tomato number.

I guess the spread looks kind of ugly. In fact, it is quite the opposite! It all started while the second cracker batch was baking, when I plopped a tablespoon of sour cream in a cup. Then I crumbled a...finger-sized chunk of feta in there, and sprinkled dried oregano on top. Chopped up two sun-dried tomatoes real fine and mixed it in.

My dastardly boyfriend came home from campus and finished off the rest of it (along with a good number of crackers, possibly skewing my estimates of the recipe yield), so I had to find another solution. Straight up cheese. Look at that tall drink of cracker there, would you?

The cheese above is Norvegia, an omnipresent endemic Gouda variety produced by the national dairy monopoly. We bought a huge block of this stuff weeks ago, and I'm so sick of it. It was okay with the crackers, but I think something else would suit them better. Any suggestions?

I have garbanzos soaking to make some "rustic" hummus tomorrow. Meaning I will mash the beans with a fork due to my lack of kitchen gadgets. Chunky hummus is not my favorite, but I think it will be a good cracker smear.


Tangerine Rolls?

I have a picnic to go to at Vigelandsparken at two today. Having neglected to plan ahead, not taking into account that supermarkets are closed on Sundays in Norway (except immigrant markets downtown), I had to get creative with my pantry contents. Somehow I ended up at "tangerine rolls." Here's how.

1. I had the remnants of the cake of fresh yeast in the fridge that needed used ASAP.
2. My pepperoni rolls using sweet roll dough were really popular at the international potluck I threw.
3. A straight-up sweet application of sweet roll dough was in order. What better way to represent American eating habits on a Sunday afternoon than something like cinnamon rolls?
4. I don't have that much cinnamon, plus I don't like it that much. I do have tangerines! Thus I decided to wing it at tangerine rolls.

So then I attempted a take-off of the gloriously soft sweet dough recipe I used last week. It's from All Recipes, which of course is great for this type of down-home no frills type of food. I nixed the water, upped the milk content, and included the last of a small carton of light cream to get rid of it, hoping to simultaneously giving the rolls a nice fat/moisture boost.

Dough recipe:
  • 2/3 cup warm milk
  • 1/3 cup warm cream
  • 1/3 a cake of fresh yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3-ish cups all-purpose flour, plus more for practical purposes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1. Dissolve about a tablespoon of the sugar and the yeast in milk & cream mixture and let proof for several minutes.
2. Add the butter, the rest of the sugar, the egg, the spices and the salt. Then add flour by the half cup.
3. When it is unstirrable, use the rest of the flour to generously cover your work surface, turn the dough out onto it, and work the rest of the flour in by kneading gently. (Not too vigorous because you don't want to really develop the gluten in sweet rolls.)
4. When you get a nice, sticky but manageable dough ball, oil a bowl and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes or so. When it's done, it will be ready to roll out, fill, roll up, and then enjoy a second rise.

Filling recipe:
  • Minced zest of one tangerine (I augmented with lemon zest so I could reserve some tangerine zest for the glaze)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar (brown would probably be nicer, but I don't have any)
  • A rough 1/4 cup of butter, cubed (I am working with butter in 100 gram increments, don't know the equivalents, so I guessed at it)
  • A sprinkle more of cinnamon
1. Scatter these ingredients over the rolled out rectangle of dough. Roll up.
2. Use dental floss to slice the dough into roughly one inch thick rolls.
3. Place on greased, sil-patted, or parchmented baking surface, and let rise again until double. (Stuck 'em back in the warm oven with a bowl of water to keep 'em moist.)
4. Bake at 400 F (205 C) until golden and luscious.

  • 1/2 tablespoon of butter, softened
  • 1 and 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • Juice of one tangerine (as needed for desired consistency)
  • About 2 teaspoons minced tangerine and lemon zest
  • Little bit of lemon juice to taste (so it's a bit tangy and not just sweet)
Whisk these ingredients together, proportions by trial and error, to create a smooth, viscous glaze for the rolls. Apply, (drizzle if you're classy; smear if you're hungry) and eat.


A golden brown success story! These are so nice and soft, with a slightly crackly, shiny top going on. The rolls themselves are not too sweet, and the citrus taste is not very prominent. That I would change. But the glaze is so tasty, and definitely citrusy. Also a very pleasant shade of apricot. The lemon juice was really necessary for the taste of the glaze--without, it would have been just...sweet. Flat and sweet. But the addition of the lemon juice really brightened it. Warm, soft comforting rolls topped with sunny, cheery glaze. Almost perfect.

Now hopefully they will be popular at the picnic.

You may be wondering why I've declared them a success before bringing them to their final destination. It's simple, really. The ugly one had to be sacrificed in the name of science. :)

Here's a photo of the finished product being consumed on the grass. They were much enjoyed.


first post: pizza dough two ways (soon to be four)

When I say pizza dough two ways I don't really mean anything groundbreaking. Sadly. Just two pizzas with different toppings, though I would like to try this recipe for cinnamon roll-style pizza (if that makes sense).

Trying lots of pizza permutations is really easy if you make a big batch of dough at once and live off it for several days in a row (just like me!). This also works for pasta dough, which will be the subject of an upcoming post. (But god, so much pizza and pasta in the past few days...I need to watch it.)I was very pleased with the recipe I used for the dough. Will be making it again, as it's super easy, but maybe blended with some whole wheat flour and/or soyflour to up the nutrition. I really like the semolina in the dough--gives a great, just...pizza-y chew to the crust. I upped the proportion of semolina to regular flour in the original recipe, mainly because I bought a pretty big bag of it. (To save space, I won't post my version of the recipe. I just used a full cup of semolina and a bit less white flour...enough to form a workable, not-to-sticky dough. I also didn't feel like prebaking the crust before topping was necessary.)

PIZZA ONE: Spinach and tomato.

Very basic. Even, dare I say, healthy? (And even a bit boring? But only in light of the next pizza, and still quite satisfying).

1. Roll out dough, slather on some store bought sauce, some squished cloves of roasted garlic, and several generous handfuls of washed and drained spinach (yes the spinach will look like it's overwhelming the pizza but we all know how prone greens are to shrinkage--don't worry).
2. Top with maybe 1/4 c. sliced or shredded mozzarella. (If this were a perfect world and imported cheese was not as outrageously expensive in isolated Norway as it is, I'd use fresh mozzarella. But instead I used the domestic brand Tine mozzarella. It's compact, firm, and sort of tasteless, like Kraft mozzarella. But it gets chewy and melty so it serves it's purpose.)
3. Top that with some sliced cherry or plum tomatoes and sliced onions. Bake in 400 degree F (or ~205 C) oven until...it looks ready. You'll know!
4. When you whisk the pizza out, all nice and bubbly and golden, top with chopped parsley, ground black pepper, and grated hard cheese (I've been on a Grana Padano kick, again because of the cost factor. It's cheaper here than Parmigiano-Reggiano. And it tastes good, too!)
5. Eat. If, like me, you're feeling Norwegian...or maybe you are just easily tempted to buy stupid things when you wander grocery store aisles on an empty stomach...try it with Pizza Dressing! For what it's worth, it's pretty indistinguishable from ranch dressing. Normally I would be a little hesitant to embrace something so...trashy. But it's Norway and I need comfort. And it's good on the crust.

But now onto the serious stuff. Pizza two: Roasted beet and feta pizza.

This pizza came out so great. The combination of sweet beets, pungent roasted garlic, and the briny tang of feta was really terrific. It's also a sauce-less pizza, so you don't have too many flavors competing. Just olive oil and a bit of thyme on the crust.

I adapted the recipe (for roasted beet, goat cheese & arugula pizza) from fellow bloggers A Good Appetite. It's pretty likely I wouldn't have modified much if I were in my kitchen at home, but here I made changes based on Norwegian price and availability. Namely, I used the spinach I already had in the fridge instead of arugula, and I opted for feta in place of goat cheese. (You don't want to know how expensive the chevre here is...) I also followed the suggestions A Good Appetite made for if they were to make the recipe again.

My recipe goes as follows:
  • Dough for one pizza (that said, size varies...my dough generally adopts an oblong 12-by-16 inch shape when rolled out thin...and that worked for these ingredients)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Thyme
  • One medium beet (2.5 inches in diameter?), cut in half then in 0.125 inch slices)
  • One medium onion, again cut in half and then in slices
  • 5-ish cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 0.25 cup of slice/shredded mozzarella
  • A stick of feta about 0.75 inch thick and 3 inches long (or equivalent...that's an awfully weird measurement)
  • Two plentiful handfuls of spinach, washed and drained
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Place beet, onion and garlic on a baking pan or parchment paper and lightly drizzle with oil. Salt to taste. Roast for maybe 25 minutes or until they're done roasted. Remove from oven and let cool a bit. Squeeze the garlic out of its peels and chop roughly.
  2. Meanwhile, roll out dough. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and a generous pinch of thyme.
    Arrange spinach on dough and layer mozzarella over it.
  3. Top pizza with beautiful beet slices and onions and garlic. Crumble and sprinkle feta over all.
  4. Bake until edges of pizza beginning to brown, 20 minutes or so.
The results are pretty fabulous, but I'd make a few changes. First off I wished the cheese taste was more prominent, but I feel like the strong taste of feta would be overpowering, so next time I make it I'll use chevre since it's less...assertive I guess. And I think the taste of arugula would be a nice addition, as the spinach doesn't really add much flavor to the dish. Though the relatively tastelessness of spinach allowed me to add more, boosting the "health" of this pizza, right? I negated the spinach with the use of more pizza dressing for crust dipping. Sure, I can eat ranch dressing with my gourmet pizza. I do what I want!

For my last blob of dough I'll be making a pretty basic pizza with the rest of the sauce and mozzarella, as well as feta, sun-dried tomatoes, and yellow bell pepper. Wish I had basil, though.

Though I think I will pinch off a small bit of the dough to make a dessert pizza. Here's my vision: knead a bit of sugar and cinnamon into the dough and roll out. Smear with a bit of black currant jam, top with brunost (Norwegian sweet brown cheese, known at gjetost stateside), and crown with thin slices of apple. Bake. Will let you know if it turns out.