Guest Post from TikiPundit.
He clearly has the gift: the words, the photos and the urge to create havoc wonderful food in the kitchen.
So he is posting on my blog (and I don't even have to pay!)
Without further words from me…. Here is his post:
Katie of Thyme For Cooking (http://thyme2.typepad.com/) has, between cooking, blogging, gardening, working on her French farmhouse, surely writing a cookbook, and learning the technical intricacies of ancient timber beams, false walls, French building codes, and electrical wiring on the way to a complete renovation of her abode, once again found time to host the excellent and fun Season’s Eatings gift exchange.
The concept is simple: send Katie your address and she’ll insist that you send a randomly-chosen recipient something from your area that s/he can cook, along with a recipe. In return, a randomly-chosen participant will send you something that you must cook, write about, and include a photo.
I sent a ristra (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ristra) to Penny of Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen (http://lakelurecottagekitchen.blogspot.com/). My fears of scaring off an accomplished blogger (and excellent writer) were unfounded: Penny used the ristra to cook my chile-from-the-depths-of-hell’s-kitchen and wrote a generous post about it that you can see here (http://lakelurecottagekitchen.blogspot.com/2010/12/seasons-eatings.html).
So: you send a gift and the recipient blogs about it.
You get a gift and you blog about it.
But… that’s if you have a blog.
Since I don’t, Katie is kind to post my Season’s Eatings post on her site. Thanks, Katie, and let’s go!
I received a fantastic, homemade gift from Palma Hansen of Palmabella’s Passions (). She sent her Hot Strawberry Balsamic Jam. And she included a jar of E. Waldo Ward’s (http://www.waldoward.com/) Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly as well as a recipe for Parmigiano-Cheddar crackers.
The SoCal-made cactus jelly could have come out of my back yard, if I had the murderous wherewithal and evil mindset to take proper care of Mr Overgrown Paddle Cactus (Mr OPC). But fearing the outcome of a war with that cactus, or with canning jars, I gladly settled for Palma’s gift, and Mr OPC rested easily for another night (I keep a machete by my bed in case the cactus gets any idea to go on the offensive). The jelly is sweet, with a slightly spicy edge that warns one against eating so much as to fall into a sugar coma. As someone who prefers a savory breakfast to sweet, I enjoyed this jelly.
Palma’s Hot Strawberry Balsamic Jam is incredible and I probably lack the lexicon to properly describe it. Ma femme said it reminded her of a chutney. Though she is always right, per our prenuptial agreement, I think it’s more than that as its sweetness does suggest jam. There is an underlying kick to the jam that indicates something devious like chipotle pepper – but I can’t be sure. I just know that when a pepper creeps up to eventually hit your palate instead of attacking it from the get-go, you know you’ve got something special. This is really good.
Palma included a recipe for Parmigiano-Cheddar Crackers (below) and I followed it to a T. It came out well, though I did need to add six minutes baking time. This could be due to the altitude here in the US Southwest… or my lousy oven and the possibly equally-lousy oven thermometer that I tolerate. I have usually found that I need to add minutes to baking times since moving here. The crackers came out great and, coincidentally, just today I saw a video from Mark Bittman () describing how easy it is to make crackers.
There is no need to pay major dinero for crackers at a store, when you can make them inside half-an-hour for one-tenth the price. You can make them with ingredients you control, and with no additives from the factory or enough sodium in one portion to meet your dietary needs for the next six weeks. And, you can make crackers that taste better than what you get from a box.
Palma showed me that, and I thank her for influencing me, through Season’s Eatings, to bake my first-ever batch of crackers.
Thanks also to Thyme for Cooking for again hosting this fantastic and fun gift exchange. Everyone should sign up next year! Let’s team up to make Katie work even harder!
• 4 ounces cheddar, grated
• 2 ounces Parmesan, finely grated
• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard (I used Coleman's)
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (I used sea)
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
• 2 tablespoons water, plus more if needed
In the bowl of a food processor, place all ingredients except the butter and water. Pulse 5 times. Add the butter and pulse again until the butter pieces are the size of BBs. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse just until the dough holds together. If the dough is still crumbly, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it reaches the right consistency.
Turn the dough out onto a large piece of waxed paper. Roll the dough into a log, 9 to 10 inches long, and square off the ends. Refrigerate, well wrapped, for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. Or freeze it for up to 1 month. (You may want to cut the log in half or in thirds to freeze if you think you will want to defrost a smaller amount at a time.)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
To make the crackers, cut the log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet 1-inch apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the crackers are a light golden color. Turn the crackers and bake for 3 to 5 more minutes, or until they are golden around the edges. Cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature.
Serve with cactus jelly, or with Palmabella's Strawberry-Balsamic-Peperocino Jam.
I love the sound of those crackers…. and the jelly….. Thanks for a great post TikiPundit!