Thursday, December 24, 2009

Rye Crispbread Crackers with Pepper-Dill Creme Fraiche and Smoked Salmon (Page 38)

RECIPE #1064

  • Date: Sunday, December 6, 2009 -- 1pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our New House!
  • Dining Companions: Matty, Mike, Corbett, Mary, and Rich
  • Recipe Rating: B

We had some friends over for brunch a few weeks back and I made this dish as part of that meal. I started this recipe by making the crackers. I proofed the yeast, then I toasted and ground some caraway seeds and added them to the yeast along with rye flour, all-purpose flour, and salt. I kneaded the mixture, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough was smooth and elastic. Then I let it rise until it doubled. I divided the dough into two pieces, and rolled each out into a 15 by 10 inch rectangle. I let them sit, covered, for 15 minutes. Then, using a fork I made perforations in the dough outlining the shape of the crackers. I then baked them until golden and crispy. I broke the crackers apart. I then stirred together some creme fraiche, chopped dill, salt, and pepper, and put a dollop of the mixture on the top of each cracker. I topped the creme fraiche with a piece of smoked salmon. I was then supposed to sprinkle some orange zest on top of the salmon, but in the bustle of preparing brunch, I completely forgot. Whoops! This dish was ok but not great. The flavor of the crackers was nice and the creme fraiche and salmon went wonderfully together. As a combination of flavors the dish was very successful. The issue I had with the dish though was that the texture of the crackers wasn't quite right. I rolled the dough out to exactly the specifed dimensions, but it just wasn't thin enough for crackers. Instead of being delicate and crisp, these crackers were thick, which made them quite hard to eat. It also threw off the balance of the ingredients: there was too much cracker for the amount of creme fraiche and salmon. Had the crackers been much thinner and more brittle, this dish could have been very successful. Were I to make it again I would ignore the dimensions given in The Book for rolling out the dough and I would just roll it quite thin before proceeding.

The recipe is here.

It's Christmas Eve! We had planned to stay in Madison until this morning and then drive up to Oshkosh (where my extended family lives) today, but there has been some nasty weather in parts of Wisconsin, so we decided to drive up yesterday instead to beat the storm. So we are here and yesterday we got to see some of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. This morning we are headed over to my grandpa's house where we will cook today for our big Christmas dinner tomorrow. When I was little Christmas was always at my grandparents' house. Most of the adults would sit around the kitchen table playing Sheepshead (a card game that is a huge tradition in my family) and drinking. The kids would sit on their laps, collecting quarters from anyone who swore. When we got tired of watching the adults play we would run around the house, creating games of our own (Dog trainer comes to mind -- I was the dog trainer and my twin cousins, who are 4 years younger than me, were the dogs. They would crawl around the house on their hands and knees for hours!). We would eat, open presents, listen to Christmas carols. It was very fun! At some point Christmas moved to an aunt and uncle's house. Although the traditions stayed the same: Sheepshead, kids running around, presents, food... it was different from those early childhood Christmases. No one seems to remember the last year we had Christmas at my grandpa's house, but it was at least a decade ago. This year, though, Christmas is at my grandpa's! There aren't any little kids in the family any more, but my mom's family is a boisterous bunch. Even without small children I am sure there will be some holiday chaos! I am very much looking forward to it!

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