|Photo: Joseph De Leo (in "The Cheesemongers Kitchen" by Chester Hastings)|
Last week our world was filled with sunshine; with highs in the 80's and blue, cloudless skies, people in the Pacific Northwest were scrambling to find sunblock and those long-lost sunglasses. It was heavenly! But all good things must come to an end, and that is certainly true of sunny skies in this corner of the planet. We have already had 2 inches of rain in the month of May.
My theory is if the weather can't keep us warm on the outside, we'll warm up on the inside. I have two recipes for you today--the first is a vegetarian chili I made for my daughter. The second is a homemade Cheez-it cracker that Dave Leite recently published on his blog (http://leitesculinary.com)
Dave found this recipe in the book "The Cheesemongers Kitchen" by Chester Hastings.
Red Chili and Cheddar Crackers Recipe
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and diced
- 8 ounces best-quality aged Cheddar cheese, grated
- 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
- 1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and chilies. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cheese and pulse to combine.
- 2. Add 3 tablespoons of the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing until the mixture comes together in a ball. Pulse in an additional tablespoon of water if needed to get the dough to hold together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- 3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
- 4. Roll the dough out to a 1/8-inch thickness directly onto a baking sheet. (If the dough seems sticky, sprinkle the surface ever so lightly with flour.) Try to be as accurate as you can about the thickness of the dough, as the crackers won’t puff up nicely if the dough is too thin, nor will they be crispy enough if the dough is too thick. Using a cookie or biscuit cutter, a sharp knife, or a fluted pasta cutter, trim the dough into ½-inch diamonds (or any shape you prefer).
- 5. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. (If you, like us, don’t have 3 baking sheets—well, 4, actually, counting the one you’re already using–simply line 1 or 2 or however many baking sheets you have and bake the crackers in batches, allowing the sheets to cool between uses.) Place the dough on the parchment-lined sheets, giving them just enough room so that they are not touching. Bake until the crackers are deep golden brown and crunchy, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of your crackers. Watch the crackers carefully as they go from almost done to a little too done quite quickly. Transfer the crackers to wire rack and let cool completely before serving. (The crackers can stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week, although they are best the first couple of days.)