So I bought the Food 52 Genius Recipes cookbook last week, and seriously, its incredible. I had heard of, and seen a good few of the recipes before because if you spend as much time on the food internet as I do it would be impossible not to. I had also made at least one recipe – the famous purple plum torte, so I know they are particularly extraordinary. I plan on making a lot more from the book and in fact have made three since last week already. It’s the kind of book that inspires you want to dive straight into the kitchen and get busy, and its the way I gauge how good a cookbook is.
The first recipe I made was these one-ingredient whole grain crackers because I had freekeh in my house for the first time and I love a good crunchy (healthy) cracker.
The recipe in the book is adapted from Dan Barber and is the simplest version of a cracker you could ever imagine. It comes from his restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns outside NYC and if you don’t know who Dan Barber is I suggest watching season one of Chefs Table on Netflix and see what the man is all about. Pretty much the poster person for farm to fork dining with strong opinions about agriculture and farming, and aside from his seemingly aggressive disposition (he admits to being one of those shouty chefs), he is a chef I admire.
The premise of the recipe is to boil a whole grain like freekeh or farrow in a lot of water until its super tender. Drain and blend this in a food processor with a little of the cooking water until you get a thick paste, and then spread this as thin as possible (about 3mm or 1/8 inch) over a flat baking pan (cookie sheet) and bake in a low oven until dry and crispy. It takes about to hours to bake. The temperature is 150C / 300F) and it worked out perfectly for me. The thinner the better too. Once baked you break off the crackers in irregular shards and serve with a dip of sorts. Hummus is the obvious choice and what they recommend in the book. I didn’t have any on hand when I shot the crackers so I whipped up a tasty dip with creme fraiche and Pesto Princess chermoula paste instead. Chermoula is the herby ‘sister’ to the very spicy Moroccan harissa paste. Think lemony, turmeric flavour profile here, and stirred through creme fraiche – which softens the fierceness of it, is rather delicious.
I sprinkled Maldon salt flakes over the surface of the freekeh spread-out- paste because salt is essential to any savoury cracker in my opinion. It’s also better to add the salt before as it wont stick to the surface once baked.
My verdict on these crackers. As a textural eater they really deliver on the crunch factor and I loved the simplicity of how they are made, but they dont have that much flavour other than that of the grain. I think this is perfect though, as the flavour comes from whatever you are dipping them into. They serves as a super crunchy delivery vehicle for the dip. I loved that they are so healthy too.
Oh and if you are unsure about what freekeh is, it’s a roasted grain made from nutritious young green wheat and can be prepared as you would rice or pasta. I got mine from this website and their freekeh (pronounced ‘free-ka’) is 100% Australian grown wheat. Its pretty expensive but I am head over heels in love with the flavour and texture. It’s a much healthier and more interesting grain than rice for me, and I adore the flavour. It comes in wholegrain – which reminds me a lot of barley, or cracked grain, which cooks a lot quicker. It works as a fantastic accompaniment for warm casseroles as I did with this stout beef and mushroom stew.
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