Daring Baker - February 2013: Crisp Crackers and Flatbread

Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie was our February 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to use our creativity in making our own Crisp Flatbreads and Crackers!

I though I wouldn't make it this month, life is so hectic these days. But spending time in the kitchen feels like a breath of fresh air. Even if the fresh air smells like onion! (which it did). I'm not a peanut, potato chips and crackers kind of girl. I prefer to save up on the appetizer and have a dessert instead. Plus I'm not a fan of buying things that have been ready-made industrialy (and I'm sure, a lot of people are agreeing with me on that these days).

But I was curious on this month challenge, and always ready to do things myself. Many recipes were proposed, some I never heard of, like those raincoast crisps, that I liked a lot. All the flatbread I had in mind were on the soft side, like mexican Tortilla or swedish Tunnbröd. So I tried the onion and poppy seed crackers instead, that turned out to be so easy and addictiv. I'm sure I'll make some more in the futur.

Raincoast Crisps

From Dinner with Julie blog with Julie van Rosendahl
Servings: About 8 dozen

280 gr all-purpose (plain) flour
10 gr baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
480 ml buttermilk
50 gr brown sugar, firmly packed
60 ml honey
180 gr raisins
60 gr chopped pecans
125 gr roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
30 gr sesame seeds
30 gr flax seed, ground
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to moderate 180°C
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk, brown sugar and honey and stir a few strokes. Add the raisins, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed and rosemary and stir just until blended.
Pour the batter into two 8”x4” (20cmx10cm) loaf pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack.
The cooler the bread, the easier it is to slice really thin. You can leave it until the next day or pop it in the freezer. Slice the loaves as thin as you can and place the slices in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. Slice so thin that they are almost lacy. Reduce the oven heat to slow 150°C and bake them for about 15 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes, until crisp and deep golden. You can also cut in half before the second baking. This is the way I like them. The size works better. Be careful not to burn.
Storage and Freezing Instructions/Tips: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month. Prolong the freshness by freezing for up to 3 months.

Onion and Poppy Seed Crackers

From “Menus from an Orchard Table” by Heidi Noble featured on Sarah’s blog.
Servings: About 6 dozen

1 medium onion
1 large egg
80 ml vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
280 gr all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, puree the onion. One medium onion will yield approximately 1 cup puree. Measure 1 cup puree and liquid from the onion and return to the food processor. Add the egg, oil and salt and blend until well incorporated.
In another bowl, measure the dry ingredients. Mix lightly to combine. Make a well in the center and add the liquids in this well. Mix in one direction until the dough is fully combined. Lightly knead the dough, flouring as needed, for 2 minutes. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to moderate 180°C.
This is a very soft dough and you may find it best to roll it between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll as thinly as possible. In fact, it is best if rolled as thinly as a strudel dough. But don't worry if you can't get it that thin. The crackers will still be fine. Cut into desired shapes.
Bake until evenly golden. The time required will depend upon thickness but anywhere from 5 - 15 minutes. If they are thicker, the crackers will puff up like little pitas. Cool thoroughly before storing in air tight container.

Storage and Freezing Instructions/Tips: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month. Prolong the freshness by freezing for up to 3 months.


Avocado Pasta

I believe in indulging our cravings, afterall, why should that only work for pregnant women? There are enough frustration we have to deal with on a daily basis, not to have some more when we come to the kitchen. Obviously, that doesn't mean diving spoon first into a huge pot of Nutella (and no, I've almost never done that).

I was in the mood for avocado, which I don't have that often, because I try to stay reasonnable with the "exotic" fruits and vegetables. So an avocado and shrimp salad was on the menu of a lovely diner, but then I was left with with one extra avocado, so I just started browsing thru picture (that's how I mostly choose recipes over the internet) and came accross this creamy avocado pasta recipe.

Expressions like "it is to die for" or "heaven on a plate", always seems like a bit of an exageration. But without going this far, this is damn good for something so easy. The oily consistancy of the avocado  replaces the olive oil you'd use to make some pesto, garlic gives it taste and lemon a bit of a kick. This is a must try!

Avocado Pasta (from a recipe of Oh She Glows)

Serves 2

150gr of Soba Noodles (or any pasta)
1 Avocado
1 Clove of Garlic
1 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon of Kosher Salt
10 Leaves of Fresh Basil
Freshly Ground Pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil in order to cook your pasta or noodles.

In the meantime, prepare the sauce in a food processor: blend the avocado, the garlic, the lemon juice, the salt and basil together until it's nice and creamy.

Sieve the pasta and serve dividing the sauce and add some freshly ground pepper to taste. See easy peasy!


Sweet and Sour Pork Belly with Apples

And it's February already! Have you seen it coming? Me, not really. I guess I was just too busy to realise the weeks were going by. February being the shortest month of the year, I guess I will hardly see this one go by either.
I remember being a kid, thinking everything takes a long time to happen: summer holidays to arrive, being allowed to do "grown up" things... And now I'm in my 30's and keep wondering, where has all this time gone by. I guess that's me getting old...er.

Plus February is cold, the school holidays will make my schedule even busier, and I will get bothered by all the lovey dovey stuff going on around Valentin's day. So we might aswell switch to March, where at least I know I'll have a few days off.
But let's not jump the gun, as a child my favorit movie was "Dead poets society", and I still try to do my best on the carpe diem motto. It's just easier on some days.

So I don't know if this fits the whole "let's eat healthy" approach to this new year, but it's a recipe I really enjoyed. I kept reading in british magazins recipe combining pork and apples, so I try to have a take on it. I'm a big fan of sweet and sour dish, though I wouldn't have it on the weekly basis, but more because of the calories than of the taste, because I though it worked very well together.

Sweet and Sour Pork Belly with Apples

Serves 1

1 Slice of Pork Belly, preferably unsalted
2 Tablespoons of Soja Sauce
3 Tablespoons of Honey
3 Tablespoons of Water
1 Clove of Garlic
1 Small piece of Fresh Ginger
2-3 Apples (I used braeburn)
1 Teaspoon of All Spices
1 Tablespoon of Fresh Chive

Prepare the marinade first: in a small bowl, using a spoon, stir the soja sauce, the honey and the water together. Peel the garlic and remove the root inside, dice it or use a garlic crusher and add it to the previous mix. Peel the ginger (about the size of the tip of your thumb) and grate it into your marinade.
Pour your marinade over the pork belly, and leave it for at least 2 hours in it, turn it over half way thru.

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Place the pork belly in the oven, with the marinade, and baste it every 10 minute or so, turn it a few times aswell and cook it for about 30 minutes, until it has a nice color.

Peel and core the apples, cut them into cubes. Place a pan on a low to medium heat, start cooking the apples with the teaspoon of all spices, leave the lid on and stir every now and than, cook for about 20 minutes, slowly.

To serve, place the pork belly on the cooked apples and sprinkle with some freshly chopped chive.