Butter Crackers

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If you’re the type to devour a sleeve of salted crackers with cold butter, pull up a chair – these pre-buttered crackers are for you. To eat by the stack.

I’ve always been a fan of homemade crackers – although most of us have made a batch or two of cookies in our lifetimes, we don’t tend to run toward crackers. And yet the dough is just as easy – often more so; and the results just as delicious compared to the store-bought boxed kind as homemade cookies are, gooey and warm from the oven, in comparison to the carboardy ones that often taste of their own packaging.

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Homemade is better – and cheaper still – and perfect for piling on cheese boards (party season coming up!) or nibbling in bed or crumbling into soup. I confess I ate the majority of these straight from the cookie sheet, and didn’t bother with dinner.

Butter Crackers

Adapted from Epicurious.

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. oat bran (optional)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt, plus extra for sprinkling
3 Tbsp. butter, chilled
1 Tbsp. olive or canola oil
1/4 cup water
1 egg
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400F.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oat bran, sugar, baking powder and 1/2 t. salt. Add the butter and oil and blend with a pastry blender, fork or your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Add the water and stir until the dough forms a ball.

Let it rest on the countertop for 15 minutes, then roll out on a lightly floured surface to about a 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into shapes (a fluted round cutter mimics Ritz crackers) or squares with a knife and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Poke the crackers with a fork. In a small dish, stir the egg with a spoonful of water and brush the crackers with egg wash. Bake for 5-8 minutes, until golden.

Brush the crackers with melted butter and top with a pinch of salt while still warm.

Makes 2-3 dozen crackers.

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November 08 2015 | appetizers and bread | 5 Comments »

Pumpkin Scones

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Today seemed like a good day to make pumpkin scones – not only because it’s Sunday, it was a late night (Halloween) and an extra-long morning (daylight savings), but because there was a half a can of pumpkin puree in the fridge, and I will go to great lengths to keep food from winding up in the compost bin. Also, on mornings that require some recovery from the night before, I don’t go running to plates of greasy bacon and eggs, but to soft-centred carbs with craggly edges that I can nibble with copious amounts of coffee.

I was not neat when I brushed these with cream and sprinkled them with coarse sugar (I use Turbinado – sugar in the raw) before sliding them into the oven, thus the dark sugary polka-dots.

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Also, I like splattering things. It’s my attempt at being artistic and Jackson Pollok-y in the kitchen.

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Pumpkin scones Collage

And another PS – while we’re on the topic of being creative – this might, MIGHT just be the last post here in this format. I realize I’ve been talking about a new website in the works, and have even in the past suggested the changeover was imminent, but it really is this time. I’ve been dragging my heels, working instead on projects for which I have actual editors and real deadlines, and wanting the new space to be functional and look right, which it turns out is trickier than it sounds. But it seems to be almost good to go, and my new mantra is that done trumps perfect. Right? I can always keep fiddling with it, right? Like a house in a constant state of renos? And the important part is that it has search functionality out the wazoo, which is what most of you have been asking for. Sorry it’s taken me so long to deliver.

Meanwhile, have a scone. They’re extra toasty (the way I like them) and still warm.

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Pumpkin Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter, cut into bits or grated
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk or cream

1/2 cup icing sugar
1 Tbsp. cream
a drop of vanilla

Preheat the oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add the butter and rub it in to blend with a fork or your fingers.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together the pumpkin, egg and milk or cream, and add it to the dry ingredients. Stir just until the dough comes together, then pat it into a circle about an inch thick on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cut into wedges. If you like, brush with cream and/or sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden. Let cool slightly before drizzling; whisk together the icing sugar, cream and vanilla and drizzle over the scones with a fork.

Makes 8 scones.

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November 01 2015 | bread and breakfast | 5 Comments »

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