4.20.2014

Marion Cunningham's Lemon Crackers


Seeing a bowl of homemade crackers on the table never fails to surprise and impress guests. Marion's lemon crackers are truly unusual, perfect with soups, salads and yes, even cheese. Or just for nibbling. 
I don't know about you, but I don't like tons of salt on things...so I think the tablespoon of salt in the topping is too much. If you like salty, go ahead. If not, cut it down to your taste. 3/4 tablespoon is plenty.
Also, when Marion says to cut the crackers right out of the oven, do so. They crisp up fast and are difficult to keep in squares, although a little unevenness in a homemade cracker is not a bad thing. I found I didn't need to turn them over to bake an additional 5 or 6 minutes either. They browned nicely on the bottom without turning, but you do have to roll out the dough to a 12 inch square, which is quite thin. 

These may have some sugar in them, but trust me, they aren't sweet.


Lemon Crackers
From The Supper Book by Marion Cunningham



Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind
4 tablespoons butter, cold
2/3 cup milk, plus a few drops more if needed
1 tablespoon kosher salt (3/4 is sufficient)

Method:

Preheat oven to 325.
In a processor, mix the flour, sugar, salt and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lemon rind. Pulse a couple times. Cut up the butter and add to the flour, pulsing until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the milk, process as little as possible, until the dough comes together, adding a drop or two more of milk if there are any dry crumbs.

Divide the dough in half. On a floured board, form the piece into a square about 4 inches. then roll out into a 12 inch square, flouring the board and rolling pin to prevent sticking. The finished dough should be no more than 1/8 inch thick. 


Carefully transfer it to an ungreased cookie sheet. (Sounds difficult, but it isn't.) Score the dough into 2 inch squares, then, with a fork, prick each square three or four times.

Mix the kosher salt and remaining lemon rind, sprinkle over the dough and press into the dough lightly with your fingers. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip the cracker over and bake another 5 or 6 minutes. (I didn't need to flip, but it did take longer than 15 minutes in my oven to brown the top side a bit. Keep an eye on it, all ovens are different.)


Remove from oven and immediately break into pieces along the scored lines.

Repeat with the other half of the dough. Cool crackers completely and store in an airtight container.

4.15.2014

Bunny Bark and Easter Gift-Givers



                                                        Happy Easter!

What could be more fun than white chocolate bark for an Easter treat? And with big marshmallow bunnies studded through it! Of course, you can use the miniature pastel marshmallows too, but I couldn't resist these pastel big bunny shaped puffs, although the shapes are difficult to see in the photo.


My collection of Christopher Radko/Ino Schaller bunny band gift givers (called gift givers because the bottom is removable and you can put a gift or candy inside) are drooling over the view of the egg shaped bunny bark while "entertaining" us. It's almost as much fun to get them out for Easter as it is to eat the bark!


In Savannah for their annual house tour recently, I was pleased to see a large collection of the Schaller gift-givers, for all holidays, at The Christmas Shop. (To see the collection, click on Ino Schaller on that webpage.) While my Santa gift giver collection has gotten way out of hand, I did break a promise to myself to resist and purchased one little one. There were lots of Easter gift-givers (chicks and bunnies), a large turkey gift giver that didn't appeal at all and even some Halloween gift-givers....an adorable pumpkin one I'd never seen and I just had to have it. Fortunately, I don't get to Savannah that often because it appears resistance is futile. :)



Bunny Bark




Ingredients:

12 ounces white chocolate (I used 3 Ghiradelli 4 ounce bars)
3 cups pastel marshmallows, mini or bunny shaped (got mine at Target)
Pastel sprinkles of your choice

Method:

Fit some parchment paper in a baking pan and set aside.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave, starting with 30 seconds, stirring well, and then in 15 second increments. Shouldn't take more than 1 minute or so. Remove when there are still some chunks, stir madly until it's all melted.
Add the marshmallows and quickly spread on the baking sheet. Use your sprinkles on top and put the pan in the freezer for 15 or 20 minutes. You want to stop those marshmallows from melting.
Remove and let it come nearly to room temperature before cutting into squares, or use an egg shaped cookie cutter. 

Note: It's easier if you spray some Pam on any cookie cutter you use.



4.12.2014

Rhubarb Soufflés


You might have guessed a rhubarb post would be coming along soon this time of year. Donna Hay actually had an entire section on rhubarb in her most recent issue...they must have written it just for me.  :) So, there will be a couple more rhubarb recipes coming your way; you can hold onto them until you see rhubarb in your garden or in your markets.

This s
oufflé was a beauty to make, light and airy to eat, pretty to photograph and a very tasty finale for any meal. Such a delicate pink and, once again, I'm thinking "ladies who lunch."

Rhubarb 
Soufflés
From Donna Hay magazine, issue 74



Ingredients:

300g rhubarb (about 2 1/2 cups), chopped into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup superfine sugar
2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

butter, melted, for greasing

superfine sugar, for dusting the ramekins

3 egg whites, room temperature
confectioners sugar, for dusting

Method:

Preheat oven to 350.
Place the rhubarb, sugar and water in a saucepan over heat. Stir to combine, bring to a boil and cook,  stirring frequently, for about 8 or so minutes until completely softened. Pour into a bowl and with a hand blender, or hand mixer, beat until smooth. 

Mix the cornstarch and water until smooth. Return 1/2 cup of the rhubarb mixture to the saucepan (save the rest for something else), cook until it starts to bubble, add the cornstarch mixture, stir until thickened. It won't take long. Pour into another bowl and allow to cool.

Take your ramekins, use a pastry brush and brush them with the melted butter and then dust them completely with the superfine sugar. Set aside.

Beat whites until soft peaks form and then add the superfine sugar to taste. I used perhaps 3 or 4 tablespoons. Beat until glossy. Carefully fold in the rhubarb and pour into the ramekins, right up to the top. (I filled the ramekins half way, then tapped them on the counter to to settle the mixture before adding the rest.) Smooth the top and then run your finger about 1/2 inch deep all around the edge of each ramekin. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes or until 
soufflés have risen and are golden. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve immediately. 
This recipe made two large ramekins and three small.


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