30 March 2009

Acquacotta and Chive Cracker-Biscuits

chive cracker-biscuits

I made up a recipe! Chive Cracker Bisquits! They're great! Interesting! Unusual! A unique combination of rarely-paired textures-- okay, fine. I didn't make up a recipe. I was trying to make Mark Bittman's crackers. I have tried to make them twice now. On the video, he makes it look like it's as easy as folding a sheet of paper. It is not. At least it hasn't been for me. My first go 'round was not worth discussing. Tonight, round two, I made some improvements. But tonight I also figured out a crucial step that Bittman left out of the recipe - to make these crackers perfect, you must actually be Mark Bittman. And that, I cannot do.

Of course, the distinctive quality of my version of Mark Bittman's crackers is (more accurately) due to me using whole wheat flour. (Not just whole wheat flour, local whole wheat flour.) That made them thicker - more biscuity. But I rolled them out half as thin this time and I left them in twice as long. And to be perfectly honest, they are delicious and so satisfyingly local, regardless of any textural particularities. Not Mark Bittman-y, at all. But delicious.

Huns Garden chives from the expo

handy food processor

Emily's Chive Cracker-Biscuits (to see Mark's version click here)
1 cup whole wheat flour (local!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese (optional)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter (local - Shatto!)
several spoonfuls chopped chives (local!)
1/4 cup milk (local - Shatto!)
salt, pepper, cheese for sprinkling

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly dust with flour. Put flour, salt, cheese and butter in bowl of a food processor. Pulse until flour and butter are combined. Add chives. Add about 1/4 cup milk and let machine run for a bit; continue to add liquid a teaspoon at a time, until mixture holds together but is not sticky.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until 1/2-inch thick or even thinner [more like 1/8-inch thick!], adding flour as needed. Transfer sheet of dough to prepared baking sheet (drape it over rolling pin to make it easier). Score lightly with a sharp knife, pizza cutter or a pastry wheel if you want to break crackers into squares or rectangles later on. Sprinkle with salt or other topping if you like.
Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes [or nearly 20 minutes for my cracker-biscuit version]. Cool on a rack; serve warm or at room temperature or store in a tin for a few days.

I didn't eat only crackers for dinner. Those were the accompaniment to a favorite soup of mine, Acquacotta. Simple to make, delicious, and additionally interesting because you serve it with a slice of bread in the bottom of the bowl. Brilliant. For tonight's bread, I thawed (yesterday, in the fridge) a small loaf of local bread that I bought at the Badseed winter market in January and froze right away. I'm amazed at how well it kept and thawed.

chives, cheese, and loaf

In addition to the bread, most other primary ingredients were local: frozen chard, frozen carrots, a red pepper that I crushed myself, canned tomatoes, and my little veggie broth and tomato juice ice cubes.

dried red pepper from Fair Share Farm

canned tomatoes

from the free Wild Oats magazine, Jan/Feb 2007
Acquacotta means "cooked water," but that doesn't begin to describe how delicious this soup is! It also freezes beautifully, so double the recipe if you like. Adding a Parmesan cheese rind to the soup while it's cooking is a clever Italian method for deepening flavors.

1 lb. Swiss chard or kale
4 Tbs. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper, or more to taste
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 cup tomato puree (or - in lieu of the paste and puree, use just over a cup of canned tomatoes and 4 cups of broth/water instead of 8)
2-inch Parmesan rind (optional)
6 1-inch-thick slices Italian bread
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

1. Rinse chard in several changes of water until completely free of grit. Drain, stack leaves on cutting board, and finely chop. OR wait until the last minute to remove a hunk of frozen local greens from your freezer.
2. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery, and cook, stirring often, about 10 minutes, or until softened. Stir in salt, crushed red pepper and tomato paste; cook 2 minutes.
3. Reduce heat to medium low; add 8 cups water, tomato puree, Parmesan rind and chopped greens. Cook, partially covered, 45 minutes, or until very thick, stirring occasionally; add more water if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Remove rind.
4. To serve, place slice of bread in bottom of each bowl. Fill with soup, sprinkle with cheese, drizzle with oil, and serve.


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