Friday, November 19, 2010

Crispy Crunchy Things

Crispy, cheesy things to eat are a personal weakness of mine. I never, ever resist anything that's crunchy and baked with a flavorful cheese. These crispy crackers are the bomb. Bake a tray of these right before everyone arrives, your house will smell heavenly!

Crispy Cheese Crackers

Yield about 11 dozen crackers

2 ½ (12 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups puffed rice cereal

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats, or grease generously with butter or cooking spray.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cheese and butter together on medium speed. Add 2 cups of the flour, the pepper, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt and mix until well combined. Add the cereal and use your hands to combine it thoroughly with the flour mixture. (The electric mixer will crush the cereal too much.)

Combine the remaining ¼ cup flour and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Use your hands to roll the dough into balls about the size of fresh cherries. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet. Dip the tines of a dinner fork into the flour mixture and press each ball down with a fork. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to wire racks to cool. The crackers will keep in an for a week in an airtight tin.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Savory Thanksgiving Pre -Dinner Snacks

Here are two great snacks to set out while everyone is cooking the Thanksgiving meal in your kitchen. Better than cheese and crackers, these recipes can be made in advance. I find most everyone tries not to eat much until turkey time. I, on the other hand want something good to munch on during a day of non-stop cooking.

I love homemade pickled vegetables especially this recipe for Pickled Pink Heart of Palm. We find fresh heart of palm easily on the Hawaiian islands. You don't have to live in Hawaii to procure them. You can order them from your local grocer or contact Melissa's Foods which is a good source for many exotic ingredients.

Pickled Pink Heart of Palm

These are my invention and I love them! They are yummy eaten straight from the jar, added to a salad and skewered with other vegetables, like a kabob. Wrap some thinly sliced ahi crudo around these guys and you’ll have a beautiful pupu to share with friends.
It’s always better to do your own preserving because you can add your signature spices and make them your own!

2 pounds fresh hearts of palm
1 small beet, raw, peeled
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, whole
1 bay leaf
1 cup water
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup seasoned rice vinegar

Place hearts of palm in a wide mouth jar. Slice beet into ¼ inch thick slices. Using a small heart-shaped cookie cutter, make hearts from the beet slices. Set aside.

Place garlic cloves, peppercorns and bay leaf in the jar with the hearts of palm.
Heat water and salt in a small saucepan until salt is dissolved (see Note.) Add vinegar. Pour enough of the liquid into jar to cover hearts of palm and to fill jar. If necessary, add more salted water, allowing one tablespoons salt for every 2 cups of liquid. Add beet hearts. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Taste to check if hearts of Palm are flavorful enough; and pickling will they take at least 4 days. They keep up for up to 2 weeks.

Note: For faster pickles, bring water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add vinegar.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, I'll post many more great the next few weeks, promise.