Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quest for Crackers

My latest fascination in baking is to make a great cracker.  Not just any cracker, but the cracker.  Once that is gluten free, not too hard or soft, doesn't break under the pressure of spreading cheese, tastes great, pairs nicely with chevre and other cheese, and it also has to keep well.  There are many crackers on the market that come close, but they all have their shortcomings.  Some are too thick, others too much flavor detracting excessively from the cheese they are paired with, some break to easily, others just taste like cardboard.  So since I couldn't find a cracker I was completely satisfied with I thought, heck, I can make crackers.  Why not?

The first recipe was an almond cracker.  It was easy to make, containing only almond flour, egg white, extra-virgin olive oil, and salt.  The recipe suggested adding touches to your own liking, such as poppy seeds, cracked pepper, etc.  This cracker was actually pretty good.  Fast and easy to make they baked in only 12 minutes, and once cooled were crisp (but not too crisp) and flavorful and paired well with the plain chevre I tested them out with.  But not quite satisfied with the texture once chewed.  My cracker quest continued.

The second recipe was from another blog.  Daring to Thrive is a blog that contains (among other things I'm sure) information on living gluten free.  Since I can't eat wheat, and I know many others who enjoy our cheese also can't eat wheat, it's important to me to keep our crackers gluten free.  This cracker was great.  I made a few modifications which made the cracker more my own :) but all in all a great recipe.  Could this be the cracker I've been looking for?  We'll try this one out at our next farmer's market and see.  Come visit us at the St. Johnsbury farmers market, Willow Moon Farm - Farmstead Goat Cheese, and taste it for yourself!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Crab and Corn Chowder

I had a taste for chowder today so decided to make one of my favorites.  The recipe is a corn chowder recipe I've been making for a while (not sure where I found it), which I adapted to include crabmeat after having crab and corn chowder in a restaurant once.

Here's what you'll need:

a few slices of really good, thick cut bacon (seasoning bacon works great here)
1 small to medium sized onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
4-6 ears of corn (fresh, on the cob)
2 medium sized red potatoes, diced
4 cups half N half or light cream
6 oz. of lump crab meat
fresh thyme (dried is okay if that's all you have)

I start by chopping the bacon into smaller pieces and sauteing it in the bottom of a stock pot.  When the bacon is almost cooked I add 1 small onion, chopped, and chopped celery to the bacon and bacon drippings.  If your bacon produced a lot of drippings you'll want to remove some so that you're left with no more than 2-3 tablespoons of drippings along with the bacon, before you add the onion and celery. Cook until the onion is soft and translucent and the celery is tender, and all are lightly browned.

Meanwhile, cut the corn off of the cobs and set aside.  Keep the cobs too, you're going to use them to help flavor the stock of the soup.  Dice the potatoes.

When the bacon, onions and celery are done, add 4 cups of half N half to the bacon mixture along with 4 of the corn cobs, potatoes, the crabmeat and fresh thyme.  Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are tender. Remove the cobs from the soup base and set aside about 2 cups of the soup base.  Using a blender or food processor puree the 2 cups of the soup base and then return pureed soup base to the stock pot.

Add the fresh corn you cut off the cobs earlier to the soup and continue to simmer over a low heat until the corn is tender, stirring frequently, adding salt and pepper to taste.