Sesame Flaxseed Crackers

Sesame Flaxseed Crackers

It’s easy to dismiss these seeded crackers as health food based on the name alone, but unlike the bricks of sawdust available at your local GNC, these actually taste great. Coarsely ground sunflower seeds, flaxseed meal, and sesame seeds are slightly sweetened with honey to create crispy morsels that put any off-the-shelf cracker to shame.

It’s good enough plain, but there are a lot of flavoring and glazing options for the finished crackers. Sugary toppings or spiced oils can quickly transform the crackers into something either sweet or savory. My preference involves a little of both — a simple honey glaze topped with a light sprinkling of kosher salt.

View Sesame Flaxseed Crackers recipe »

  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Live
  • Twitter
  • email

Poilâne’s Mint Brioche

Poilane Mint Brioche

Shaped into petites brioches à tête, these minty balls of eggs and butter are perfectly portioned into small rolls meant to be savored in moderation. Unless you’re French, that is, in which case you’re likely immune to the unsavory side effects of rich foods.

High red wine consumption is supposedly the main factor behind the French Paradox. I did try wine therapy, but being Asian and genetically predisposed to have low alcohol tolerance, I merely ended up drunk and lazy. Back to green tea I go. We have our own paradox, it seems, although obviously not as much fun as the French version.

Peter Reinhart loosely categorizes brioche into three types using the ratio of butter to flour:

  • rich man’s brioche (at least 70%)
  • middle-class brioche (around 50%)
  • poor man’s brioche (at least 20%)

According to my expert calculations, this would put Poilâne’s mint brioche (around 40%) somewhere in between poor man’s and middle-class brioche. Somehow it still seems way too rich to my taste, which is scary because Reinhart’s rich man’s brioche formula has a butter to flour ratio of 88%. Wouldn’t that turn the dough into a yellow puddle of goo? The thought of ingesting breads that rich makes me shudder and think of Paula Deen.

I really shouldn’t be thinking of brioche as bread in the same category as baguettes or miches but more along the lines of viennoiserie, considered the halfway point between lean breads and rich pastries. Thinking of brioche that way, somewhere in the back of my head I’ll hopefully think “not in one sitting.”

View Poilâne's Mint Brioche recipe »

  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Live
  • Twitter
  • email

Red Wine Granita

Red Wine Granita

This sweet red wine granita is quite possibly the sneakiest way to incapacitate boring (or bored) guests. Do your visitors think they’re too sophisticated to get plastered? Call it a “Citrus-Infused Frozen Sangria Sorbet” and they’ll be downing Jager Bombs in no time. Having meatheads over to watch a UFC pay-per-view? Claim that your antioxidant-rich wine granita is so much more awesome than protein shakes, dude. If meathead responds with a double-leg takedown and refuses anything fermented grape, no worries — a pint of fruity frozen beer will be sure to satisfy.

This granita also wins the award for Best Use of Two-Buck Chuck or Carlo Rossi wine. Just admit that you have a few bottles hidden in the crisper drawer right now. Lightly spiced with cinnamon and cloves, the cheap wine nose and finish gets much improved without leaving your kitchen smelling like Christmas. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

View Red Wine Granita recipe »

  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Live
  • Twitter
  • email

Dark Onion Rye

Sliced Dark Onion Rye Bread Baking

This dark onion rye bread is, in a word, substantial. It is a hearty round loaf enriched with molasses, honey, and onions. Both the crust and crumb have varying degrees of pleasant chewiness that I find really enjoyable with cheese.

I was a bit apprehensive with taking on this month’s formula for Bread Baking Babes knowing that there’s rye flour involved. I love the taste of rye breads, but dough with large amounts of rye flour can be sticky and difficult to handle. My KitchenAid-free kitchen means that I have no choice but to get my hands in there.

It turns out that this dough is really pleasing to work with. It had the consistency of Play-Doh so I never had to deal with a thick glove of caked rye flour while hand-kneading.

View Dark Onion Rye recipe »

  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Live
  • Twitter
  • email

Homemade Yogurt

Homemade yogurt with blueberries

I often make substitutions and adjustments to make recipes work for ingredients already available in my pantry. I rarely follow recipes even when baking, where precise measurements and specific ingredients matter a bit more as compared to season-to-taste cookery. Some tweaked recipes turn out fine while others get filed in the “meh” or “time to get takeout” cabinet.

One ingredient that I consider irreplaceable is yogurt. Substituting milk, cream, buttermilk, or any other similar product just doesn’t work most of the time.

My favorite yogurt brand is Fage, a tangy Greek-style yogurt strained to a thick consistency. It’s similar to Arabic labneh and is sometimes referred to as, drum roll please, yogurt cheese. As much as I like the taste and texture of Fage yogurt, I’d rather have it as a quick snack than as a cooking ingredient. It’s fairly expensive and plunking down $15 worth of yogurt on a batch of yogurt-braised chicken doesn’t make much sense to me.

View Homemade Yogurt tips and recipe »

  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Live
  • Twitter
  • email