A little cheesy simplicity to bring my blogging mojo back
Right so I sort of pulled a Houdini on this blog here. And I have no excuses to make. No, actually, I have plenty of excuses, just none really tangible and legitimate I think. The truth is, I have folders bulging at the seams, with unedited pictures from my recent kitchen endeavours. I have ideas for a couple of short series I want to run. I have an unending to-do list of all those things I am yet to bake and cook, and sometimes just thinking about the effort of cooking something, shooting it, editing pictures, writing up a post, dealing with my village-like internet (which incidentally is a b*tch when it comes to uploading pictures. The joy!), keeps me from doing any of it at all.
Yes, I am aware this is all sounding like a bit of a joke to you. Because the last thing someone on a sabbatical can complain about is the lack of time and energy to do the things they love. But c’est la vie. Just when you think you have vast amounts of time on hand to do as you please, other compelling things miraculously swoop in. Things like sinking into a long-ignored reading list (albeit not fast enough), putting a few things around the house in order, getting out of a clockwork routine and into a homely one, enjoying things like nursing my morning chai as opposed to gulping it down and dashing off to work, finishing odds and ends at home that have begged for attention for so long — and the like. You get the drift.
Amidst all that, my time at the cafe has fallen into a nice little routine, and I’m enjoying it. If you’ve been reading this series, you’ll know what I’ve been up to. Besides everything I’ve said, there’s a lot of unsaid business I’m toying with, in my head. Stay tuned for that.
As if all this lolling about and enjoying my time isn’t enough, I often also get gob-smacked when I realise the days are passing by at breakneck speed. It’s a strange feeling to have all the time in the world and still feel like it is not enough. Have you ever felt that way?
Anyhoo, excuses apart. I’m back. And I feel like we needed to catch up. I feel like it’s been forever since we just sat back, talked about all that’s going on and just caught up. So grab a mug of chai, pull up a chair, dig into my archives, because I’m bringing Cheese Crackers to go. And once we’re done you’re going to want to make these. They’re as simple to make as they sound delicious to crunch into. What’s more, I think they have the power to become the next no-one-can-eat-just-one snack.
What I used
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature (once I was done, I realised 1 tablespoon would have been enough, but I am yet to try this variation)
100 gms cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I used maida and atta in a 50-50 ratio)
2 tablespoons buttermilk (if like me, you don’t have the real thing, add a few drops of vinegar to 2 tablespoons of milk before you begin and let it sit. Voila, instant buttermilk! Its a trick I learned from the Pioneer Woman and Praerna)
1/4 teaspoon salt
A generous amount of coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (or paprika, if you have it lying around)
How I made them
First I chucked in the butter into a big bowl. Next, I grated the cheese directly into it, and slowly ran my hand mixer (on low) through it, just to bring it all together.
The mixture turned dry and crumbly and I dug my hands in to knead it and bring it all together into a dough. At this point I added a tablespoon of buttermilk to aid the mixing. Be sure to add it in parts, because all you need is the moisture and sourness, without turning your dough into a sticky goopy mess.
In a bit of cling film, I wrapped the dough and stuck it in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.
Meanwhile, I dusted my cutting board lightly and plopped the dough on to it. Using my rolling pin, I rolled it out into a flat disc about an eighth of an inch thick. I realised it was easier to work with segments of dough, and that rolling it out on to my counter would have been much easier.
Using the cookie moulds, PK gifted to me a while ago, I cut the crackers out. In squares, circles and since we’re doing the whole cheesy thing to the T, a couple of hearts as well. Simply because I could.
Checking mid-way (because I have never made crackers and I didn’t want to overcook them), I broke the cardinal rule and opened the oven to take a peek. They were golder, sizzling and really puffy, beyond anything I was expecting. And they smelled divine. Think melting cheese and butter meets toasted pepper and chilli powder.
In about 15 minutes they were done. And by done I mean crispy golden on the outside. When I touched them, I realised they weren’t crunchy stiff as yet. I attributed that to the amount of cheese in there. So I set them on a cookie rack to cool.
But once they were fully cooled, I picked another bite to compare. And here’s what it felt like: crunchy, cheesy bites, crisp on the outside, but fluffy on the inside. Kind of like the cross between a cookie and a puff. Sort of like a fuller, puffier, bigger cheeseling!
A few notes:
- Recipe adapted from Joy The Baker’s original sharp cheddar cheese crackers
- Her recipe said it would yield 70 crackers, so I halved it hoping to get about 30, but ended up with less than 20. So next time I will make it the original way and hopefully get a bigger, meaner batch
- You could do the half-chilli, half-salted thing like she did. I wanted the all spicy, so I went the whole hog!
- Next time I want to try a whole-wheat version, with less butter
- I forgot to poke a hole in them, like Joy has instructed and I suspect my crackers puffed up more then they ought to
- These crackers keep in an airtight box for up to 3 days