Saturday, 26 September 2009

Champion Crackers and Footy Food

I think I have told you before that my dad loves a dry biscuit with a slice of cheese and cup of tea. So what better way to raise a glass to him as he flies home into Melbourne tonight than with some dry biscuits. He had hoped that his footy team would have won the AFL Grand Final by now, but we all knew that Geelong were stronger contenders (sorry dad) and have a well deserved victory. (Carn the Cats!)

I am not much of an Aussie rules football fan. I once was but these days I don’t take too much notice of the footy. Except that I am a sunshine patriot and like to see my team, Geelong, win. If they lose, like last year, I don’t get too upset. But if they win, like this year, I am delighted. Today I was teaching Sylvia to raise her arms and yell ‘goal’ when they scored (and no she can’t speak but Geelong are a fickle side so who knows when I will have the chance again.)

Though not a great football fan, I do enjoy a Grand Final Spectacular. I had promised E I would make sausage rolls, which is traditional footy food (although you might have guessed that the vegetarian version is not usually the choice of most fans). But last year I had waited till afterwards to make the blue and white food if they won. This year I decided I would make blue and white food no matter what. But blue is a difficult colour when it comes to food. I considered blueberries but in the end I turned to food colouring.

I had a crazy idea that I would make dry biscuits or, as the Americans call them, crackers. The term ‘dry biscuits’ makes me think of dull hard eighteenth century ship food, so is not that appealing, although it is what we grew up with. The term ‘crackers’ makes me think of Woody Allen saying ‘are you crackers?’ Not that alluring either. But maybe I was crackers to want to make blue biscuits.

I wasn’t quite sure which recipe to use. I had tried Kalyn’s Almond Cheese Crackers with my purple corn flour a few days previously and they were a dismal failure that looked like maps of obscure European countries. But strangely enough, E liked them. I didn’t have proper almond flour which is a dried version of almond meal (see Clotilde’s helpful explanation of nut flours – she also had some interesting recent cheese crackers) to try the crackers with the proper ingredients. I didn’t have oat flour to try Cindy’s oat herb crackers, nor the food processor power to grind oats.

When I got home from the shops, I saw that Yasmeen had just posted a recipe for Roasted Vegetable Crackers. What an excellent idea to roast vegetables – which I love doing – and blend them with flour and just a little oil! I rustled up enough vegetables from the fridge to roast and made a half-hearted effort of kneading blue dye through half the dough. While the blue was not a success – I just didn’t have the will to use too much dye – the crackers were delicious and full of flavour. I was excited with my creation when E got home and he quite bemused me when he said they were tasteless. Meh to the Grim Eater, I say!

Today while Sylvia played with a wooden spoon and mixing bowl, I made the sausage rolls and mixed some cream cheese with pesto for the crackers. Then I remembered I had some tubes of blue gel and white chocolate for cake decorating and a batch of chocolate honey muffins. I had been looking too hard for ideas for my Geelong baking when it was staring me in the face all along. So I sat watching the opening entertainment by the ‘Hunners’, Barnsey and Farnsey while piping lines on the muffins. How cute are they? (I mean the muffins not the old and hoary rock stars.)

We finally sat down with a platter of sausage rolls and tomato sauce, roasted vegetable crackers, pesto cream cheese and cherry tomatoes. The muffins were saved till half time. E also had some Wicked Elf Pilsner. All the food (and beer) were most pleasing and helped pass the time. E found that the vegie crackers were actually quite tasty and especially good with pesto cream cheese.

While once I could easily sit through a whole football match, now I find it hard to keep my concentration for that long. This afternoon, after a goal was scored by the opposition (St Kilda) after a Geelong player complained to the umpire I got a little tense and couldn’t bear to see another ‘mongrel kick’. I started playing with Sylvia, taking rubbish to the bin and even invited a neighbour in for a chat.

Suddenly we looked at the television and lots of Geelong players were hugging while the Saints were near tears. We looked at each other and said they must have won. (Either that or it was an amazing goal.) Sylvia practiced her hurrahs while we watched the gracious victory speeches and frenzied celebrations. I thought of those no longer with us who would have loved to see Geelong win - and those who are still with us like my brother Dave who is a die-hard supporter.

The crackers too are winners. They were rather soft and chewy, especially after a day in an airtight container. More like unleavened bread. Maybe they were not thin enough as I baked them much longer than Yasmeen says (or it could be that I used a few too many veg as I used a few more than Yasmeen). I am still a novice at baking crackers but am quite keen to try more. I hope I will be making more of these because they are a healthy snack to have on hand. But no more blue biscuits.

Roasted Vegetable Wheat Crackers
Adapted from Health Nut

2 cups plain wholemeal flour
2½ cups vegetables (I used mushrooms, zucchini, garlic, red pepper, green pattypan squash), cut in chunks
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
sesame seeds for sprinkling

Place vegetables (except garlic) in roasting tray and toss with olive oil and salt. Chop the top off the garlic, drizzle with a little oil and wrap in foil. Add garlic in foil to the tray of vegetables. Bake at about 220 C for 30-35 minutes until soft. (Yasmeen says to cool but I didn’t.)

Finely chop all vegetables in a food processor (actually mine was more like a puree) and add flour, cayenne pepper and remaining tablespoon of oil. My food processor isn’t too powerful so I needed to tip it into a bowl to use my hands to knead the mixture into a smooth dough. The dough was quite soft and sticky.

Divide the dough in to 2 portions. Lay a piece of baking paper on a flat surface and roll out one portion on the paper to a thin sheet. Use a little extra flour on the rolling pin and the dough to keep it from sticking. Transfer the dough on paper to a baking tray. Yasmeen suggested brushing with a little water and sprinkling with seeds - I didn’t brush with water and my seeds fell off - oops. I also found my seeds fell in the cuts made by the knife so next time I will sprinkle before I make any cuts. Use a sharp knife to cut squares in the dough but leave on the tray as one piece. She also pricked hers with a fork which I forgot to do but will do next time. Repeat with other portion of dough.

Bake at 190 C for 15-25 minutes until they are light brown. Mine were in the oven for 25 minutes and still not crispy but Yasmeen suggests 15-18 minutes and be careful not to let them get too brown. Cool on a wire rack and then cut or break into squares along the knife marks. Great with cream cheese.

On the Stereo:
Works: Pink Floyd

11 comments:

  1. Oh what a nice idea! I've tried making veggie/flax crackers in the dehydrator but they came out awful. This sounds like it'd be great!

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  2. Ahh yes the AFL! My friend was making cupcakes but of different colours so I'm guessing she is going for the other team! :P

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  3. I miss the vibe in the air when the Grand Final is on. :D

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  4. Wow, I think your comment on my blog was well-timed as I'm thinking hard about turning vegetarian (or rather, "returning" as I once was, many years ago).

    Great pictures - very inspiring :-)- Daphne at daphne.blogs.com

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  5. Thanks Michelle - these are worth a try - although I suspect mine should have been a bit dryer so maybe we need to meat halfway

    Thanks Lorraine - your friend wont be happy that the saints didn't win but maybe next year

    Thanks Anh - it is a Melbourne thing isn't it!

    Thanks Daphne - good luck with deciding to turn veg - it is probably not as hard if you have been there before and I am happy for you to raid my index for ideas for eating lots of yummy veg food

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  6. I haven't made too many crackers, either, but these sound like ones I could handle (though not blue). Yay for crackers (throws hands up in the air)!

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  7. I've wanted to make crackers for a while and love how healthy these are! They look so good.

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  8. Thanks Ricki - the blue idea was good in theory but I lost my nerve and it was more blurgh!

    Thanks Ashley - these ones are easy and yummy so I highly recommend them

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  9. Hi Johanna! Sorry I haven't left a comment for so long - but what an interesting post to come back to. The crackers sound like a great way to use up veggies and I'm definitely going to give them a go! Did you have any luck turning Sylvia into a Geelong supporter??

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  10. Thanks Lysy - sylvia is a geelong supporter at the moment but there are some proletysing collingwood fans in the family so will have to keep an eye on her loyalties

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  11. What a fantasic find your blog is...you have inspired me to get back in the kitchen. Made your nachos today - ummmmh so good. Really looking forward to trying lots more of your recipes. Thank-you

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