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Archive for the ‘appetizers/first courses’ Category

What is a cheese cracker variety if some sort of herby goat cheesy thing isn’t in the mix? Well, guess what today is? For Day 3, take that base cheese cracker dough, mix in some soft, fresh goat cheese, a bunch of chives and a clove of garlic and you’ve got a rather tasty little cracker.

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Today, for our second cracker of this bunch, I’ve got that classic fruit and cheese combination: a little blue cheese, a little fig. Now, I need to explain something before we get too far into this. These are subtle. There is not an overwhelming flavor of blue cheese in this cracker. It’s rather dainty, comes through on the back end and this makes it an excellent cracker to add to the cheese board/charcuterie platter to top with other delicious things. This is good news if you’re not a big fan of the blue. There’s just enough savoriness to make it interesting but isn’t overwhelming. If you’re a blue cheese fan expecting a big blue cheese hit, this may not do it for you but put a few fresh crumbles on top you’ve got one outstanding bite. So you do you. (more…)

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Ok, here we go! The first of the bunch of our 3 dough, 12 crackers for all your holiday snacking needs and we’re starting off with the four cheese varieties. First up is a good one – Cheddar Old Bay Crackers. Sort of like a zipped up Cheez It. To start, make the Cheese Base Cracker Dough I posted the other day, divide it into four even pieces and use one for this recipe. Refrigerate or freeze the rest – we’ll get to it. (This works best if you make the base dough and flavor right away but I realize that’s not always possible. If the dough is frozen, let it thaw in the fridge overnight. If it’s cold and hard, let it sit on the counter for a good 10-15 minutes so it’s cool but pliable.) This round is sort of like pie dough, you want to keep the butter kind of chunky, or as best as you can as it’s going to get worked over a few times, both in the initial mix and in the flavoring mix.

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It’s that time of year again, my friends. Time to bake cookies until ingredient lists invade your dreams and you mumble recipes in your sleep. Or is it? For the last three years I’ve tried to ease the burden of cooking, baking and gifting by using a favorite trick of mine – take one basic butter cookie dough, add various ingredients and turn it into a bunch of different types of cookies. Great, right? You turn out amazing cookie platters, no one is the wiser and you maintain a semblance of sanity. Twelve varieties each year has yielded 36 different cookies, of all flavors, colors, and textures from just one basic dough. This year, I find myself burnt out on cookies, even a year later. I’m just not feeling it and any new ideas I came up with were not sparking joy. I’m taped out this year. Instead I came up with something that excited me, something similar but different. Why not savory?  What if I came up with 12 savory crackers from one dough?

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Queso. Chile con Queso. Cheese Dip. As a kid we called it Dip Dip. Whatever you call it, it’s damn good. We all know this. And we all know one other thing, though some may be ashamed to admit it. Skip the real cheese. It has to be made with melty, smooth processed cheese. Yes, the beloved Velveeta. This is not the place for fancy cheese. I’ve tried. Boy have I tried. I may make macaroni & cheese with a béchamel and handfuls upon handfuls of sharp cheddar but when it comes to queso, I track down the Velveeta. Because that’s just what it needs to be.

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Pan con tomate. Pa amb tomàquet. Or, simply put, tomato toast. Crusty bread, juicy tomato, maybe a hint of garlic, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. That’s all there is to it. Summer in a few bites. When the tomatoes are bursting to the point of juicy ridiculousness and its too damn hot to think about doing much, this is what you make. When done properly, you’ll wonder why you eat anything else.

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Two pounds of jalapeños. Two pounds. They were leftover from a project and I had no plan on what to do with them. Various breads and other recipes used one or two, not nearly enough to make a dent in the pile. I had a pantry full of salsa so that was out. Someone had just given me a jar of pickled jalapeños and lord knows I didn’t need anymore. I was fully stocked with hot sauce. Jalapeño poppers were a thought but I had a better idea. What if I candied them? Sweet-hot is a wonderful thing.

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