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by Heather Harris-Brady
Since it’s summer and we’re inclined toward casual, outdoorsy type entertainments a cheeseboard goes with the flow. So over the next few posts I’ll be talking about nice little accompaniments you can make to have on hand. Today we’re talking crackers.
In the fancy food shops that I love to browse you can find a huge range of specialty crackers in all shapes, sizes and flavors. It seems like the more rustic they are the more they cost. You can make all the crackers you want for a fraction of the cost, in any flavor that suits you. Plus, they’re super easy!
Crackers, Makes about 8 large cracker “sheets” roughly 8″ x 10″
1/3 c. yellow cornmeal
1-1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 T. olive oil
1/2 c. water
Assorted seeds, salt, pepper, etc. for seasoning
Mix the cornmeal and flour together, then add the water. Depending on your flour you may need a bit more water to get a dough that is soft, not sticky. If you’ve added too much flour or too much water just adjust as needed, it’s very flexible!
Sorry for the blur, I can’t take photos very well with my left hand! Once you’ve achieved the soft, but not sticky, dough knead it for three minutes. Then set it aside to rest for 20 minutes. After the rest period preheat the oven to 450, use convection if you have it.
Divide the dough into eight balls and sprinkle your counter with whatever you want on the crackers (salt, herbs, pepper, etc.). These little black specks are kalonji, black onion seeds.
Roll the ball out as thin as you can get it. I flip it a few times as I’m rolling. Once you’ve got it to where you can almost read through it, you’re there. See the veins of my marble countertop through the dough? At this point you could cut them into any type of shape you like, but I leave them like they are.
Coat a baking pan generously with olive oil. Lay the cracker sheet onto the pan and flip it over, so the top is coated with oil. Put it into the oven on the bottom rack. It will bubble up right away, then the edges will brown and start to ruffle up a little. When there are still a few pale patches in the center (about four-five minutes), flip it over to finish baking (another two minutes or so).
Lay it on a rack to cool and repeat with the remaining balls of dough. Since they’re so pretty I like to put them out just as they are and let guests break pieces off.
If you store these in an airtight container they should keep for a few weeks if they last that long!
As you can see from the pic below, sun tea and I go way back. Growing up we drank it all day long, cold with sweat running down the sides of the glasses. When I got old enough to perform courier duties, my grandma would fill mason jars with tea and ice, seal them with a piece of aluminum foil, and dispatch me to the field to deliver it to my grandpa as he rounded the near turns on his tractor. I can still hear the ice tinkling in the jar as I jumped over the corn rows.
It is so simple that it seems silly to give a recipe for it, but as I’m in the business of recording even the minutia of farm food for posterity it has to here because it is a staple. We always added extra bags to make a tea concentrate, so that is the method I’m giving here.
Sun Tea Recipe (Quart)
Four – five tea bags or a tea ball of loose tea
Quart jar with a screw lid
Add the tea bags to the jar, and drape the tags over the top. I like a mixture of teas, especially black tea and Earl Grey, but experiment to find the blend you like the best.
Fill the jar with water and screw the top on. Put the jar on a sunny windowsill or back step for up to four hours.
Voila! All the tea, none of the work. Remove the bags, pour the tea into a pitcher and dilute with an equal amount of water. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve over ice.