I realized Wednesday morning that I didn’t have apples for the Beet and Apple Salad! I was moping around before Madame left for work and she said to me, “Why don’t we just eat one of our frozen meals?” So we did. And the meal was a fairly complete meal—vegetables, protein, carbs—so I decided not to make anything else… for dinner that is. It was a Veggie Hot Pot from a month ago topped with freshly made, super easy Quick-drop Cheese Biscuits.
My Assistant and I still spent the afternoon in the kitchen because it was raining outside. As a native of Olympia, WA, rain always makes me feel nostalgic. My boys on the other hand feel restless when it rains and don’t even know the meaning of the word “nostalgic.” Thus, while his Little Brother napped, My Assistant and I spent our afternoon indoors baking totally awesome Whole Grain Cheese Crackers and Gluten-Free Flourless Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies! The gluten-free cookies are partly in honor of My Assistant’s granny who is coming soon and doesn’t eat gluten (they are partly for us too, hopefully some will be left when she arrives)!
Whole Grain Cheese Crackers
Adapted from An Oregon Cottage
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup whole grain (no wheat) hot breakfast cereal (ours had seeds in it too)
- 3-4 Tbs. oil or softened butter
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ cup grated cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
- 1-2 tsp. Harissa paste (a North African hot chili paste, you can substitute other chili sauces/pastes)
- 3-6 Tbs. water
In a food processor combine the flour, whole grains, and oil and blend until incorporated. Add the salt and blend some more (if you are using whole grains like oats it’s helpful to break them down a bit while blending). Add the grated cheese and Harissa and blend once more. Finally add 3 tablespoons of water and blend. If the dough does not begin to clump together into a large lump or ball add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time until it does. The amount of water needed will vary depending on the whole grains used. Remove the dough from the food processor and knead it several times in a large bowl until it is firm but soft and forms a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for at least an hour on the counter (or in the fridge for up to 24 hours). This rest allows the whole grains to soften and for some of the enzymes in the flour to be activated and to break down some of the complex carbohydrates making for a slightly sweeter tasting cracker. (For more information on this process Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads is an incredible resource that I use weekly!)
Preheat the oven to 350. After the rest, divide the dough in half and roll it out until it is as thin as you are able (1/8 inch or 1-2 mm). (I prefer to roll it on a silicon baking mat because then I don’t have to transfer it to anything. You can also use parchment paper, or roll it directly on a flat baking sheet.) Mist the crackers with water (or use wet hands and gently pat the crackers) and then sprinkle coarse salt on top. Using a pizza cutter cut out the crackers and leave them in place on the silicon mat/parchment paper/baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes and then check the crackers. Remove any that are beginning to brown. If the crackers can bend they are not done. Place finished crackers on a plate to cool and sample them. If they are crunchy they are done!
The key to good consistent crackers is to remove any that are finished and then return the rest to the oven to continue baking. In my oven the ones on the edge always cook faster than those in the center. The best thing to do while waiting on the crackers (and while continuing to monitor their progress) is to make some cookies! Store the crackers in an airtight container. Hypothetically they will keep quite a while. In reality they don’t last long…
Gluten-Free “Flourless” Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Cucinanicolina.com (this site had some weird pop-up that my computer declared unsafe)
Roughly 2 dozen cookies
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- ⅓ cup honey
- 1 egg
- 3 ¼ cups rolled oats
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 (but if you made crackers you already did this!!). In a large bowl beat together the butter, syrup, and honey. Beat in the egg. In a food processor grind 1 ¼ of the oats until you have an oat flour*. Add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the oats and briefly blend. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix together. Add the remaining 2 cups of oats and mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Finally add the chocolate chips (or cranberries, or raisins, or pecans, or walnuts, or any and all of the above!).
Chill the cookie dough for 15-30 minutes. With a spoon or cookie scoop form the cookies and place on a baking sheet (I used my silicon mats again) and bake for 10-15 minutes, turning the baking sheets around halfway through to ensure even baking. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack. With no gluten these cookies need the extra cooling time or they will not hold together when transferred from the baking sheet.
*In calling these “flourless” we are really referring to the absence of alternate flours like rice, almond, sorghum, or any others commonly used as substitutes in gluten-free recipes. I rarely have any of those in my pantry so this recipe appealed to me.
**Both these snack items were made from local ingredients. The exceptions were the Harissa (from Tunisia, which is NOT local!) and the chocolate chips (although they were made in Ontario, the cocoa is definitely not local, nor is the source disclosed)
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