Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chèvre (Fresh Goat Cheese) Crackers and Herb Salsa

Crackers and Herb Salsa

As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari
Adapted from "Christina's Cookbook" Recipes and Stories from a Northwest Island Kitchen
by Christina Orchid

These crackers are flavorful and very easy to make, the dough is a dream to work with as well. Makes 2 to 3 dozen crackers, depending upon the size

Chèvre Crackers
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup cake flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
NOTE: I don't keep lard on hand, so I used 4 Tablespoons butter in place of the following:
-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
-2 Tablespoons lard
3/4 cup Chèvre cheese
about 1/2 cup ice water

Method: Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse several times to mix. Add the butter (and lard if using), and cheese; pulse several times again. The dough will be crumbly. With the motor running add the ice water in drips until the dough forms a ball. (You will likely not need the entire 1/2 cup of water.) Whirl the dough ball in the food processor for a minute or two, then turn out onto a floured work surface. You can wrap the ball in plastic and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
(Note: I divide the dough into 2 to 4 balls, as I find them more easily manageable to roll out.)*

Preheat oven to 350* (F). To form the crackers, roll the dough very thinly, (about 1/8-inch). You can cut shapes with a cookie cutter, or cut into random shapes with a knife. Place the crackers on a baking sheet, and prick several times, all over with the tines of a fork (this helps to prevent them from rising while baking.) Bake for about 20 minutes until they are barely a pale golden color around the edges. (I begin checking on them @ about 12 to 15 minutes, if the crackers are very thin they will bake in less time than 20 minutes.) Serve warm or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

*The cracker dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to one month.

Herb Salsa
Makes about 2 to 3 cups (depending upon if you pack the herbs firmly or loosely in measuring cup)
Recipe can easily be halved

This is so good, fresh and flavorful. It's wonderful on grilled fish, chicken or meat, too. It doesn't matter about the type and amount of herbs you use ~ you're aiming for a fresh herb-filled flavor. I used Italian (flat leaf) parsley, cilantro, upland sorrel, thyme, scallions (instead of chives), and a section of an English "hot house" cucumber-- seeded but not peeled.

For the brightest color and flavor this is best made shortly before serving (one to three hours ahead at the most), otherwise the vinegar will "cook" the herbs and they will lose their vibrant color. It is best to use a sharp knife for cutting the herbs as the food processor tends to bruise the tender leaves, which affect the texture.

For the nicest texture and presentation I remove stems from the parsley, cilantro and cress, and of course pick the leaves from the woody stems of other herbs.

2 cups chopped fresh herbs, with at least 4 of the following:
cilantro, Italian flat-leaf parsley, basil, mint, thyme, oregano, lovage, sweet cicely, sorrel, water cress, or Upland cress.)
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/8-inch dice (as noted, I use a section of an English "hot house" cucumber-- seeded but not peeled, because I like the bright green color.)
1 tablespoon chopped chives (or finely minced scallion; green stems only)
2 tablespoons fruity, extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I use white wine vinegar)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (sometimes I omit, it's still good without)
1 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a nonreactive bowl. Chill about 20 minutes. Spoon over the crackers and enjoy!

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