Cheesy, Whole Wheat Crackers
Its Summertime already! Technically its spring in the Northern Hemisphere, but in Mumbai its sweltering, sweat trickles down the back and the brow, the kitchen is a furnace and you feel like you will melt away like ice-cream. To add to the heat it’s a chaotic cricket season with the World Cup over and the IPL starting and the exams hurtling towards us like a meteor. Have to pacify the crabby teen and keep him in good spirits. His face grows longer as his swim training intensifies and study time takes precedence over the Idiot Box. Nowadays the brain is as hungry as the tummy…..for food! Edible bribes are all I can think of to help him get through a study session and Mr. 40 through a cricket match (BTW he is the spectator and not the player).
Baking crackers is what’s keeping me busy, to prevent two hungry monsters from diving into one more packet of potato crisps. The blender is whirring away, whipping out humus and the latest favourite….tomato chutney. Got to make sure that the least amount of junk gets into the teens system and “Mr. 40-something” is kept afloat too. Whew!! Now you know why the Blog has been quiet for a week?
It seems that the only sound that dominates a Sunday evening besides the cheering and commentary is the crunch of crackers and the only activity I see are eyeballs in motion, and jaws munching away and a few unsavoury comments for the home team!
Cheesy Whole Wheat Crackers are replacing the highly addictive and yummy (ofcourse) potato crisps. Though they are not that close to that super, yummy, fried, salted snack, you can use them to prevent excesses on game days and at study time when crunch is more important than what goes into the munch. They are heavy and quite filling. I have used Cheddar Cheese though the original recipe on Epicurious.com called for Parmesan. I am saving my Parmesan for that luxurious glass of wine, I will devour, in utmost peace and calm after this chaos is done with. To get back to the crackers…they are cheesey, tasty and versatile. Flavour them with a little curry powder or thyme or lime zest or chilly flakes. I have a little parcel of all these flavoured doughs cling-wrapped in the freezer ready to bake, when hunger comes a-calling.
I have cut them into no-fuss rectangles with a tacky, plastic fondant cutter. The original recipe said “don’t roll the remnants again as they turn chewy when baked”. Catch me chucking any remnants of a tasty dough into the bin!! I pressed them into mini tart tins and turned them into canapés that became little vessels for a mix of boiled egg, mayo and tomato chutney. And suddenly eyes lit up, there were smiles all around and the lemonade was poured out for a tired, sweaty mom. The guys couldn’t believe their popping eyes and good luck… Now that’s what I call “Killing 2 birds with one Dough!!!”
CHEESY WHOLEWHEAT CRACKERS
Cheesy Whole Wheat Crackers
Makes about 2 dozen
2/3 cup Cheddar Cheese (finely grated)
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 heaped tblsp unsalted butter
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. coarsely ground pepper
1 tsp. finely chopped rosemary (dried will do)
1 tsp thyme (dried will do)
2 tblspns. Lightly beaten egg
50 ml milk
Additional flour for dusting
- Preheat oven to 160o C. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly oil.
- Sift flour, salt, baking powder into a bowl. Add the cheese and mix.
- Add the herbs and pepper. Mix well.
- Rub the butter into the dry mixture till it is coarse and crumbly.
- Make a well in the centre of the bowl and add in the egg and a little of the milk. Stir the flour into the liquid. Using your fingers knead into a firm dough. Add milk a little at a time. You don’t want a sticky dough. Knead the dough for a minute or two.
- Roll it out as thin as you can dusting the board as you go along.
- Cut into desired shapes and lay them on a lined baking sheet ¼ inch apart.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Check on them every few minutes. Remove when they turn a golden brown. Cool completely and check if they are crisp. If not then return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
Other flavouring suggestions: Basil and lime zest, Red chilly powder / cayenne pepper and cumin, Roasted ground cumin, sesame seeds, oregano.
This tangy, Tomato Chutney is a yum dip, so easy, quick and absolutely hassle-free (unless slicing an onion is not your cuppa). It is a slight modification on the South Indian classic, onions, tomatoes, dried red chillies….see that’s not so difficult to source. If you don’t have dried red chillies then feel free to use fresh ones, but go easy on them. A few drops of lime juice adds that extra zing and the sugar evens out the sharpness. With the cheesy crackers it was an ideal contrast. Its fresh summery taste and slight heat from the chillies is a perfect sweat-breaker on warm evenings.
1 tblspn. oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 large tomatoes, diced into 1″ pieces
2-3 cloves garlic
2-3 dried red chillies
2 tblspns. peanuts, skinned
a pinch of asafoetida (option)
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
Salt to taste
- Heat oil in a small pan. Add the onions and fry till transculent. Add a pinch of asafoetida.
- Add the tomatoes, chillies and garlic. Continue to saute on low to medium heat until the tomatoes soften and break easily when spanked with a spoon. Add sugar when hot and mix in, Salt it.
- Whizz the peanuts to a coarse powder in the food processor. Add the onion-tomato mixture and grind to a smooth paste. Add in the lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning.