Penny’s Pantry Hack #1

OK, so we are all in this sweet pastry together, right?  Hopefully, most of us are self-distancing ourselves from one another in an attempt to provide safety from Biggie V – CoronaVirus.  And, while hanging out at home is new and different and oddly, weirdly fun, there are logistical aspects of self-isolation that arise daily.  Like, what have you got in your pantry?  Have you been a perfect shopper and have one of everything edible on your pantry shelf?  NO!

Last Friday I ran out of my favorite cheese snack cracker.  Well, I couldn’t just run out to the corner store and stock up and stay safe now could I?  Solution?  Well, I am a baker after all.  So, here’s the stream of consciousness that led to blogging on pantry hacks.

Cheese crackers were all I could think about…I didn’t have any!  OK, let’s look up some recipes online.  To my favorite recipe site and voila, I found only 450 different recipes for cheese crackers.  But one in particular stood out to me.  Sesame Cheese Crackers!  Yeah!  OK!  That’s the one.

Reading through the original recipe I realized I might not have all the right ingredients!  So, let’s rummage through the pantry and see what I DO have.  The recipe calls for Cheddar Cheese; I only have Mozzarella Shreds.  The recipe calls for white sesame seeds, I only have black.  Also, who doesn’t have soy sauce in their pantry?  I DON’T!  I have Tamari!  Soooo, let’s give it a go and see what happens!  As it turns out, this is the easiest, most delicious, most exciting hack ever!  You’ll think so too!  Mixes up in about 10 minutes and makes over 70 crackers!

INGREDIENTS:

1 Cup all-purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
6 Tablespoons cold Butter
1 Cup finely shredded/chopped Mozzarella Cheese (Cheddar)
1/4 Cup Black Sesame Seeds – toasted (or White Sesame)
6 – 7 teaspoons ice water
1/2 teaspoon Tamari (or Soy Sauce)

DIRECTIONS:

1- Toast sesame seeds in a hot, dry pan for 3- 5 minutes – don’t burn!
2- In a small bowl, whisk flour, salt and cayenne; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in cheese and sesame seeds.  Combine 3 teaspoons water and tamari/soy sauce; stir into dry ingredients with a fork.  Stir in enough remaining water until dough forms a ball.  Wrap in plastic; refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.
3- Preheat oven to 400°.  On a floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/8″, a 14″ x 11″ rectangle.  Cut into 2″ x 1″ strips.  Place on lightly greased baking sheets.  Bake 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown, cool on wire racks.

HINT:  Initially, I think I could have rolled the dough a bit thinner, and at the recommended timing, the centers of the crackers were still soft-ish.  I turned off the oven, let it cool about 10 minutes, then set the tray of crackers back in the oven to continue crisping for 30 minutes.  Perfect!               (Recipe courtesy Taste of Home.com)

What other hacks could work with this basic cracker recipe?  Well, how about blue cheese and chopped walnuts?  Oh…and goat cheese and dried fruit!  I’m on a roll now…finely chopped turkey jerky and raisins!  Ok, so maybe that one isn’t a universal hit, but think about it.  These hacks are fun!

Now, WHAT’S FOR LUNCH?  All of a sudden I had a craving for hummus….but no chick peas in the pantry!  Only a can of black beans!

BLACK BEAN HUMMUS

  1.  Drain a can of black beans (reserve liquid for later).  Into a food processor combine the black beans, 2 or 3 cloves of garlic (I like garlic), 1/4 cup Olive Oil and a Tablespoon of Italian Seasoning (dried herbs – oregano, basil, anise, etc.) Salt and Pepper (cayenne if you like it hot).  I didn’t have enough lemon, so in addition to to the juice of 1/2 lemon that I did have, I added a Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar.
  2. Spin it all up in your processor – add some liquid from beans if the hummus is too thick.   Make this a healthy treat by adding fresh veggies to dip along with the insanely crisp Sesame Cheese Crackers.  Who says you can’t eat like a Queen (or King) while self-isolating?

I’ll make you a deal….get adventurous with your pantry food!  And, I’ll think up another awesome Pantry Hack!  Bon Appetit!