Friday, July 27, 2012

Daring to do it: Crackers

Our July 2012 Daring Bakers’ Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.

I love salty snacks.  Like, I tried to blame my addiction to chips on pregnancy cravings, but had to admit the truth when I was no longer pregnant...  So when crackers were announced as this month's challenge, I was really excited.  I kind of had thoughts of making lots of different types, and was really happy.  Then reality hit.  This month seems to have gotten away from me.  I seriously was amazed when I realized that it was time to write up the challenge already!  So I didn't quite get my oodles of crackers in like I thought I would...
Dana challenged us to make at least two different types of crackers, each using a different method.  She gave us some great tips, tricks and recipes, then encouraged us to look for   I did make two types of crackers, but they were remarkably similar.  They were both rolled by hand with a rolling pin, and they were both kind of Wheat Thin-like.  I guess I have a type that I am drawn to, and these recipes sort of proved it! 
Batch number one - whole wheat crackers:

Yummy.  Not quite as crispy as I would have liked, but I think that was because of me and not rolling them quite thinly enough.

Batch number two - Oatmeal crackers (I thought they would be different than the first recipe...  oops...!):

Expertly cut by my fabulous niece, we sprinkled rainbow sugar on half to match the rainbow like cuts.  While they had to stay in the oven for a lot longer than the recipe indicated, they were amazingly crunchy and tasted great.

So I might not have completed the challenge exactly as I was supposed to, but I did make some yummy crackers, and enjoyed myself very much!  Thank you, Dana, for such great encouragement and a wonderfully useful new trick for our kitchen arsenals! 
Take a look at what my fellow Bakers created if you want to see how amazing crackers can really be!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Surprise! Pizza

I love pizza.  And I love sourdough.  And when the two combine, it is pure yumminess!  This month's Sourdough Surprise was pizza, which was a wonderful choice.  (And, no, it wasn't up to me!!)  This is the recipe that Sourdough Surprises used as inspiration. It looks great. But I didn't use it. I used this one instead.  I had made a sourdough pizza several weeks earlier using a method like the one in that second recipe, and I liked it so much I wanted to do it again.  But I couldn't find the same link, so I searched and did the best I could.  And this must be almost the same thing, because it tasted just as good as I remembered.
Lots of pictures for you, 'cause I have no way of offering tastes...
The dough, kneaded and resting:
 Stretching to fit the pizza pan:
 Covered in plastic and left to "sour" (this adds a lot of flavor, don't skip this part!):
 Pre-baked, waiting to be topped:
 Topped, baked, sliced and ready to go:
 Look at the crumb!  So tasty...:
 And for good measure, my slice, ooey, gooey, veggie-covered and delicious!
Please make this pizza.  It is so good!!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Daring to do it: Cooking "En Papillote"

Our July 2012 Daring Cooks’ host was Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie! Sarah challenges us to learn a new cooking technique called “Cooking En Papillote” which is French and translates to “cooking in parchment”.

I kind of like these challenges which are about a process more than a specific recipe.  But I kind of don't too...  The flexibility with the ingredients can be a really intimidating prospect!  This time, though, I was psyched.  Cooking "en papillote" is not new to me.  Cooking in little packets can be a great thing - great flavor, easy to accommodate preferences, and easy clean-up, too!
For this challenge I made two different meals "en papilolte."  The first was tofu and vegetables.
Filling individual "packets" for everyone:
 I even made a special packet for the baby!
 All ready to go in the oven:
 Opened up!  Tender veggies, soft tofu, totally yummy!
 The second "en papllote" dish was tilapia with spinach, onions, lemon and a few grinds of lemon-pepper seasoning.  (Hubby, the vegetarian, was away for the day, so fish was in for dinner.)  Instead of making individual packets, this time I made one big wrapped parcel and cooked it all together.
Ready to fold and bake:
 One big packet of yumminess:
 Look at all of the juices!  I didn't add a drop of oil either - that is all natural.
Thank you, Sarah, for reminding me about this great, easy, healthy, versatile method of cooking.  I had a great time playing with my food, and seeing how the other Daring Cooks played with theirs!
Take a look here to see the delicious suggestions and recipes Sarah gave us for this challenge, and then check out what my fellow Cooks made!