Easiest Homemade Gluten Free Crackers on the Planet

Gluten Free Crackers

Midwinter is a monochromatic marvel to me — sort of a Trojan horse time of year when Spring is concealed beneath the earth’s muted shades of tan and brown, waiting to pack a wallop.

That’s how I feel about these crackers, too.

At first glance they appear as benign as January’s palette, but don’t let ’em fool you. They’re the perfect example of “more than meets the eye.” I like surprises and these surprisingly tasty lil’ crackers are my go-to snack, speaking of which…

GF Crax ready to bake

Generally I’m not a snack-y person, but winter seems to ignite my appetite. (Why is that? Something to do with storing energy for shivering?) Anyway, a few crackers with a swipe of tapenade or a smear of hummus appeases random cravings quite nicely.

In a previous post, I extolled the virtues of Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers and I love ’em to pieces. These days I make them gluten-free. Bonus points for being quick’n’easy — thirty minutes from start to finish. And, there’s nothing like a warm cracker fresh out of the oven to soothe the savage beast in your stomach.

GF Crax

Gluten Free Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers
(adapted from this recipe — thanks, Erin!)

1-1/2 c. gluten-free all purpose flour (I used King Arthur’s)

1/2 c. hazelnut flour

1 tsp. baking powder

2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

1/2 tsp. sea salt*

2/3 c. warm water

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

Garlic powder for dusting, if desired

*Note: The original recipe calls for a teaspoon of salt, but saltiness is subjective and it depends on what you’re going to dip, dunk, or dollop with later. Season to taste.

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Lightly oil two large baking sheets.

2. Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

3. Measure oil and water into a liquid measuring cup and gradually add to dry ingredients. (Depending on the humidity, you may not use all of the liquid.) Stir with a fork until mixture comes together. Divide dough in two.

4. Pat each portion of dough as thinly as possible onto prepared baking sheets. (Use your hands — it’s fun!) Slice into cracker shapes with a pizza cutter or sharp knife.

5. Dust with garlic powder, if desired. (I do one batch “with” and one without.)

6. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until edges begin to brown and the crackers look “set.” (They’ll crisp up as they cool.) Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

7. Store in a zip-top bag or airtight container between snack attacks.

GF crax w Tapenade v

Does winter change your eating habits? Do tell.

Enjoying Spring in disguise,

~ Kim

Boxing Day Memories

Memories or Memorabilia

When I look at the mementos I’ve tucked away through the years — gifts from family and friends, or reminders of special occasions — I realize they aren’t the memories themselves. The process of remembering is aided by them, but memories are intangible — and some are clearer than others.

Boxing Day some thirty-odd years ago was one of those occasions that left an imprint on my heart more than my mind — an overall “feeling” rather than total recall. What I do remember is warmth… hospitality… generosity.

After my whirlwind tour of England and Scotland, I was ready to settle down for a long winter’s nap and assimilate everything I’d seen, heard, or done. The guest room was quiet, cozy, and adorned with knickknacks and objects d’art twice as old as America (a fact that still boggles my mind) and it didn’t take long to drift off to dreamland under a layer of quilts with a heater at the foot of the bed.

The next morning, I awoke to the sounds and smells of a bustling kitchen. (Don’t you just love that?) The aroma of potatoes and onions mingling with sausage and bacon prompted me to dress quickly and join the muted conversations below. Coffee, tea, scones, eggs — a veritable repast — awaited.

Boxing Day brunch was a tradition the host family relished. As guests arrived at the front door, they were greeted with a heartfelt “Merry Christmas!” and directed to the dining room to indulge and imbibe at will. Champagne corks began popping and lively conversational banter continued throughout the day. The conviviality of it has stayed with me for life.

I learned that Boxing Day is so named because gifts are “boxed” and dispatched to household staff members on their day off (December 26th), having worked Christmas Day. The very thought of it brings to mind the over-sized turkey Mr. Scrooge took great delight in delivering to Bob Cratchit’s home — a sincere thank you for services well-rendered. Boxing Day is also designated as a day to donate to the needy, a tradition that hearkens back centuries.

Meanwhile back at the brunch… one dish that stood out in my mind (funny how I can always remember food) was a cheese soufflé the hostess described as: “not your classical soufflé, but reliable.” I describe it as: “cheese-flavored air.” Sigh…

In between sips and bites, I fielded queries from guests wondering about “the young American woman in England at Christmastime.” Their candor and humor was refreshing and I had to smile when someone asked: “Are you one of those liberated women?” Traveling alone wasn’t as commonplace then as it is now and I guess my adventurous streak was showing.

Another appetizer I enjoyed tremendously (recipe graciously shared by the hostess and later adapted by me) were Cheese Straws. Perfect with champagne — and Christmas. Sometimes simplicity is the ideal backdrop for festivity.

Cheese Straws

Cheese Straws

1 1/3 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
3 oz. cold butter*
4 oz. grated cheese**
1 egg yolk, beaten
1/4 c. cold water, divided

*Grate the butter first, followed by the cheese. Easy clean up!

**Per original recipe: “Use a highly flavoured cheese such as aged sharp Cheddar.”

Preheat oven to 450° F. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Rub in butter and cheese with your fingers until evenly distributed.

In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk with two tablespoons cold water. Work the liquid into the flour, then add enough remaining water (as needed) to make a stiff, yet pliable dough. (Best to do this with your hands so you can “feel” the consistency.)

Roll out dough thinly on a lightly floured surface; trim and cut into “straws.”

Bake on ungreased baking sheets until golden brown, about 7 minutes.

Note: I bake the trimmings as a “trial batch” to judge the amount of time. (They make a delicious snack with a glass of wine while you’re baking the rest.)

These can also be made in advance. Bake until just golden, about 5 minutes. Cool completely, then freeze. Reheat 2 to 3 minutes at 450° (watch closely) until browned.

Serve warm. Makes 4 dozen.

Boxing Day continues to be one of my favorite memories, and the lessons I learned about hospitality are ones I’m pleased to share in my own home.

 

Wishing you many delightful memories and a very Merry Christmas!

Enjoying reminiscing,

~ Kim

Finger Food (Zombie Halloween Party)

Finger Food

After five months of rehearsals, my concert came and went (successfully, whew!) but now there’s a huge vacuum in my brain where Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart previously took up residence.  Let’s just call it creative space.  The serious side of me was also in desperate need of fun.

Enter Catherine Hackman.

“Would you like to contribute a recipe to my Zombie Halloween Party?”

Of course!  It sounded quirky and amusing, plus I enjoy her stories tremendously.  (You can read her latest short story here.)

The last time I did anything Halloween-like was a few years back when we were invited to a party at a friend’s house.  My hubby preferred not to go.  When I showed up at the door all by my lonesome, the hostess inquired, “Where is he?”

I gestured to my side and replied, “Right here.  He’s The Invisible Man.”

In the spirit of fun, I’m bringing a few “no brainer” appetizers to Catherine’s party — food fit for zombies — or for folks who recently worked their fingers to the bone.

Finger Food

Bony Fingers (String Cheese Appetizers)

(Recipe credit:  Spoonful)

Mozzarella string cheese sticks

1 Tbsp. cream cheese, softened

1 yellow bell pepper, cored and seeded

Cut string cheese sticks in half.  With a paring knife, shape each stick to resemble fingers.  Cut an indentation for the fingernails and carve “knuckle wrinkles.”

Spread a small amount of cream cheese in each indent.

Cut fingernail shapes out of the bell pepper; affix a “nail” to each fingertip.  Chill, covered, until ready to serve.

These are yummy all by their lonesome, but if you’re feeling adventurous, try dunking them in Blood Curdling Scream Dip.

Blood Curdling Scream Dip (Roasted Red Pepper Pesto)

(Recipe credit goes to my Mom, who cut it out of a magazine and sent it to me.  Holler if it’s yours and I’ll give credit where it’s due.)

1 c. roasted red peppers (I used jarred ones due to my zombie-like state)

1/4 c. walnuts

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (see note)

Drain peppers.  Place ingredients in a blender or food processor; pulse to desired consistency.

Note:  The original recipe didn’t call for cayenne, but in my opinion it’s a scream-worthy addition.

Chill, covered, until ready to serve.

For a spooky presentation, serve “fingers” and dip on a blood red plate… or in a ghoulish light.

As for the lil’ zombies lurking about, the credit goes to my Sis.  Her skill with a needle and thread rivals Dr. Frankenstein.  (Thanks, Sis!)  She credits her inspiration to Zombie Felties.

Zombie Halloween Party

For additional party ideas, please visit Catherine’s Zombie Halloween Party post… and while you’re there, be sure to haunt her latest short story.  It’s a thriller!

Catherine has a gift for connecting with teens and young adults through her writing.  She also throws a great Halloween party!  I guarantee the serious side of you will smile.

Enjoying creative space,

~ Kimby

In My Kitchen – September 2013

Spoons

In my kitchen is a mix of old and new.

The spoon on the right was my Grandma’s.  These days it serves up mashed potatoes and memories.  The spoon in the middle was a gift (thanks, sweet sister) that serves as a decoration.  The spoon on the left, worn  thin from a lifetime of stirring, belonged to my great-grandmother.  Now it’s a garlic holder atop my “modern day” microwave.

In my kitchen there is always garlic.

Garlic holder

There’s coffee, too… old-fashioned and newfangled.

Bialetti

Coffee B & W

The Bialetti coffee maker was a gift from me to me.  I love coffee!  The Dutch oven behind it was another gift from my sister (which has nothing to do with coffee), but I love its constant presence (and hers) in my kitchen.

In the black & white photo, the coffee-themed oven mitt (a gift from my daughter — thanks, Bebe Girl, xo) and the Kahlua coffee mug (a gift from my goddaughter, xo) serve as daily reminders that people care about me.  I love my family.  I love gifts.  I love being in my kitchen!

Color your world and your kitchen in hues that please you.

For me, red is the color In My Kitchen — the color of love — passion — Cabernet Sauvignon and the quilt stitched by my mother-in-law (xo) that hangs over our front door every afternoon like a Mondrian.   Bits and pieces of fabric from her life, filtering Oklahoma sunlight in mine.

Mondrian quilt

In my kitchen are old (new-to-me) cruets purchased at a yard sale for fifty cents.

Why is it that oil & vinegar taste better poured from a cruet?

This unassuming pair resides on a copper serving tray (atop the aforementioned microwave), purchased at a yard sale for a quarter.  I love yard sales and kitchen treasures — and, evidently, balsamic vinegar & extra virgin olive oil.

Cruets

See the picture frame in the background?  That was a gift from my Mom (xo), given shortly after we moved here.  In cross-stitch below the photo, it says:  Home, Sweet Home.

I don’t think that phrase ever meant more to me than it does now.

Every day I cook in a “tree house” on the lakeI see this view from In My Kitchen — and I feel incredibly blessed.

Glowing Sumac

Fall’s a comin’…

Is it really September?  In My Kitchen is a glorious bouquet from my hubby, The Man Of Few Words.  (Bear in mind, flowers tend to arrive randomly and bouquets are generally few and far between.)

To quote him:  “It reminded me of autumn.”

His economy with words and extravagance with “non-verbal romance” continue to astound me.  New flowers from an old love…

Flowers From The Man Of Few Words

Last but not least is an old recipe in a new dish, both gifts from my Sis.

(Ditto on everything I said above about love, family, gifts, memories, and treasures in my kitchen.)

This time I revamped the recipe with the last of my Greek yogurt because, well… you know how it is.

Marinated Beef with Garlic Toasts

Marinated Beef Appetizer

1 c. minced roast beef (a great way to use up leftover roast)

1 clove of garlic (of course), finely minced

1 Tbsp. minced onion (I used Vidalia, but green onions are also good)

Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Equal parts mayonnaise & Greek yogurt, enough to bind the mixture together

(Sorry to make you approximate measurements.  FYI, the original recipe calls for sour cream — whatever tickles ya!)

Mix together, cover, and chill.  Adjust seasonings before serving, as needed.

Serve with (warm) garlic toast or pita chips or crackers.

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So, what’s in your kitchen this month?  If you’d like to join in, please visit Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  Each month, she hosts In My Kitchen (thank you!)

It’s a delight to see what’s going in in kitchens around the world!

Enjoying “old & new,”

~ Kimby

“A” is for Artichokes

Artichoke with Japanese Mayo

My friend, Carlene, gave me the cutest lil’ serving dish awhile back and after thanking her profusely, I tucked it in my pantry to await artichoke season.  Clarification:  I tucked it next to a 6 inch stack of recipes waiting to see the light of day.

Every time I vow not to save/print/bookmark another recipe (until I cook the other 9,482* recipes in my file), there’s one more begging to be tried.  A flavor that appeals.  An idea that intrigues.

Quite honestly, I could cook something new every day for the next 14 years without ever reading another food blog.  (But we all know that’ll never happen.)

*This figure may be grossly underestimated

A is for Artichoke

Actually, artichokes have been on my agenda for awhile.  I like how they look.  I like the process of eating them.  I like the fact that they’re really giant thistles.  (But don’t let that avert your attention.)  Once you’ve tasted those tender leaves, you’ll be glad you moved them to the head of the line, too.

Previously, I’d eaten them dipped in melted butter laden with garlic (heavenly), but I was in the mood for something subtle.  (Okay, something new.)  Leave it to foodie friends to provide the inspiration!   Below are links to everything you’ve always wanted to know about artichokes, as well as Japanese mayonnaise.

Artichoke B & W

Many thanks to…

Toni Dash | Boulder LocavoreYour tutorial on “The Art of the Artichoke” was fantastic!

Nami | Just One Cookbook — I’m so happy you introduced me to the wonder of Japanese mayonnaise. :)

Quick aside.  I grossly overestimated how much one person can consume (The Man of Few Words wasn’t as ardent about artichokes as I was…), so here’s a terrific recipe for Fresh Artichoke Spinach Dip, along with an alternate version using canned artichoke hearts.  (Thanks Nicole | Foodie McBooty!)

Artichokes with Japanese Mayonnaise

One of these days (in the next 14 years or so), I’ll get back into the creative swing of things and post some of “my” recipes, but in the meantime, it sure is a pleasure trying yours!

Enjoying artichoke adventures,

~ Kimby

Tapenade Dancing (Three Olive Tapenade)

Tapenade Dancing I

I’ve always admired dancers.  Not just for their grace, but for their lithe, lean bodies — stretching, leaping, and sculpting themselves into willowy figures.

Mine, however, seems more amenable to sitting. 

Hips that endure endless hours at a desk.  (Writing and various secretarial jobs come to mind.)  Stamina able to withstand the rigors of a steering wheel.  (Which reminds me… I have about 10 years’ worth of trucking adventures languishing in a file… was thinking of publishing excerpts here in an upcoming series?)

Sturdiness borne from settling into “me” — with no regrets.  Or ballerina slippers.

Willowy I’m not, but I can drive (or sit) 12 hours at a time without flinching.  Not that I didn’t give dancing a go in my younger years.

For anyone old enough to remember Lawrence Welk, I used to emulate “Bobby & Barbara.”  (They were “the” dancers before Barbara’s replacement, Cissy.)  After watching them glide across the dance floor, I’d bust a few moves and convince my sister that it was perfectly fine to recreate a few aerials (with Mom & Dad’s double bed serving as a safety net in case I missed…)

Body-shape notwithstanding, this particular recipe prompted an outright Fred & Ginger fest in my kitchen.  I started tap-enade dancing after one bite!

Although a warm baguette would have been optimal — or pita chips — Club crackers sufficed.  Then, I began searching for the perfect “dance” partner…

And ended up serving it with a spoon and my favorite counterpart in the kitchen (or on the dance floor):

Tapenade 1

Whatever shape you’re in (or whatever your shape is), celebrate the art of the dance… especially on your taste buds.

Enjoying the “tap”enade,

~ Kim

Tidbits

Bite Sized Caprese Appetizers

Sometimes life comes in bite-sized chunks.  Appetizers of things to come.  Tidbits, if you will.

Rather than one grand, glorious meal, it’s served on small plates.

It also serves as a lesson in patience and perseverance.  Most days, I have a platter mentality.  I want it all now, please.

Or dessert first. ;)

While there’s nothing wrong with craving the completion of a project/dream/insert your unfinished business here, tidbits provide flavor to life, one bite at a time.

  • A sentence that leads to a well-written paragraph.
  • A measure of music that puts a tingle down your spine.
  • A photo you gaze at again and again just for the joy of it.
  • A day that feels good in spite of obstacles.
  • A soul-filling satisfaction that emanates from giving a little and knowing it was enough.

Tidbits serve a dual purpose…

They simultaneously appease your hunger and whet your appetite for more.  And, when they happen to come in edible form, yeehaw!

Last week I was going through the ol’ picture file and ran across some photos I’d forgotten about.

Tasty!  Fun!  Why didn’t I post these earlier?

I’ll tell you why.

Because they were waiting for the “idea” of tidbits to appear and my brain finally caught up.

Be patient with yourself!

Polenta in progress

By the way, there’s no need to labor over these Crispy Fried Polenta Bruschetta as pictured.  (From Ally’s Kitchen — many thanks, Ally!)  They’re entirely delectable, per the original recipe, like Caprese with a Southern kick.

I just happened to downsize them with an apple corer and cherry tomato slices so I could play with some new cocktail forks!

(Some days I just need to fuss… ever feel the same way?)

Ah yes, good things happen exactly when they’re supposed to — in exactly the “size” they’re supposed to occur.

Turn life’s tidbits into a party!

Tidbits

There’s no “one size fits all” — do what’cha need to do.

Downsize.  Upscale.  Adapt.  You’ll know when it’s right for you…

Because you’ll be smiling.

Enjoying life’s hors d’oeuvres,

~ Kimby

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