A White Out (Almost)

The weather in southwestern Virginia has been abysmal this past week. We have had two separate snow storms, scattered snow showers on the"off" days and now wind gusts of 50+ MPH. To say the least we are a little tired of the ever present force of Mother Nature, but we have no other choice than to succumb to her power over us. Our dinner tonight pays homage to the weather in general and even more our current state of mind. Unintentionally almost all our dishes were in the white color palate - very much like our mood. Yet BIV are always optimistic and we dared to include a bit of green with our white dinner, our hope of a better future. We know it is nearly mid-February and spring is not that far off, but will admit right now that a 40-degree day would be a welcome treat.
So, onto the exciting stuff - The FOOD! We again broke into new culinary territory this week. We made our own crackers....yes, we really made crackers from scratch. These were made from a combination of cornmeal and flour and the crackers were flavored with Parmesan cheese and cayenne pepper. These were time consuming to make and while I was in the midst of making them, I wondered "why I am making crackers - there is an entire aisle at the grocery store full of crackers". But, these crackers were better than all of those you see in the store and with a little practice - they are (relatively) easy to make. Here is the recipe (from 101Cookbooks.com) and if you have any interest I would suggest giving it a try.

Spicy Polenta-Cheese Crackers

Heidi notes: Don't burn them, cooking time will vary depending on how thin you've actually rolled them - they can burn in no time. I started watching these in the oven at 6 minutes, mine were really on the thing side, so I pulled them out after eight minutes.

Equipment: A food processor or a blender; 2 nonstick baking sheets; a 1 3/4-inch round biscuit cutter or a glass.

1 cup bread flour (hs note: white whole wheat flour works as well)
1 cup instant polenta
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk, shaken to blend

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a food processor or a blender, combine the flour, polenta, sea salt, baking soda, cayenne pepper, and cheese. Process to blend. Add the butter and process just until the mixture resemble coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and process until the dough just forms a ball. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for a few seconds. Wrap in plastic and set aside at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Cut the dough into quarters. Set one quarter on a lightly floured surface; cover the remaining pieces with plastic. Roll out the dough 1/16 inch thick. Using a 1 3/4-inch biscuit cutter or a glass, cut out rounds of dough and arrange them on a nonstick baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake until the crackers are golden and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes. Once cool, transfer to airtight containers. The crackers can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Makes 75 crackers.

To go with the crackers we had a white bean dip flavored with mint and lemon, a Danish blue cheese and a feta cheese spread. The crackers were really great with all the spreads, but the saltier fare of the blue and feta really paired well with the crackers.

The main dish tonight was a combination of cauliflower and asparagus. We made a creamed cauliflower, perfect for the whiteout conditions outside and a perfect comfort food for that tired winter feeling. The cauliflower was really great and would be a great side dish or a vegetarian main dish at any seasonal gathering. Our accompaniment to the cauliflower was a wonderful roasted asparagus with a browned butter sauce. This is my favorite way I have ever had asparagus and it was an easy dish to put together.
Now onto dessert....We had a super easy (no-cook) dish. We made a parfait layered with lemon yogurt, blueberries and ginger snaps. Easy to put together, but a wonderful combination of flavors and crunch. We used a thick, creamy lemon yogurt which really added to the success of the dish.

1 comment:

BostonsInVirginia said...

And our evening was also complete with a couple of power outages. We were able to complete everything on schedule, but we kept a candle burning- just in case it turned from a white-out to a black-out