Salted Rosemary Croccantini: better than expensive gourmet brands, even

Dear crackling, cackling, crackering,

It’s that time of week again when we get to zip back in time and steal a post from the old crumbling blogstead! I originally came up with this recipe back in December 2012, when I wanted some fresh, homemade crackers. When driving from Seattle to Virginia, about seven or eight months pregnant and anxious to see my husband again after he’d been moved by the Navy, I was given a package of sort of boring-looking crackers and a bag of sliced cheese. I didn’t even think the crackers looked very good but once I started eating them, I couldn’t stop! Flakes of salt, the herby aroma of rosemary, and the crackle of crispy … I was hooked. You will be, too.

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I love croccantini crackers.  Croccante is the Italian word for crispy or crunchy; –tini is a pluralized diminutive attached to the word, hence our cute little croccantini (if any Italian speakers know more on this, let me know, I have a very limited vocabulary!).

Last year, when I left for my Long Haul to Chicago, my cousin bequeathed upon me a large and full box of flat, salted, rosemary-infused-and-topped, fragrant crackers.  I wasn’t too excited at first (“Oh good, a vehicle for my cheese”) but then I ate one and … well, then I ate the rest.

They were good.  Really good.

I semi-forgot about them for a while, wishing now and again I could find them but not recalling the name of the brand.  “I need to ask her where she got them,” I resolved every time I thought of them.  I didn’t know they were a Thing, popular in Italy with cheese for a snack, and produced by more than one manufacturer, until I stumbled my eyes across them in Trader Joe’s.

Welcome to my cart, little box of crackers.

I took them home and quickly realized that in order to feasibly enjoy them in the quantity and frequency I desired, I would have to find a more fiscally responsible way to get them to my plate.  And following my rule of thumb for food – “If I can buy it, I can make it,” – I headed straight to the kitchen.

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I wanted the crackers to be whole wheat, or at least mostly so.  If not for the fact that unbleached flour is fairly pointless as far as nutrition goes, then for the fact that whole wheat has a more robust depth of flavor, somewhat nuttier and more hearty than white.

I strapped the baby to my back and got to work.  And let me tell you, it was worth the twenty to thirty minutes of experiential toil: these crackers are far and away better than the packaged version (why are we not shocked? Why?).  They taste better, have a meatier crunch, the salt and rosemary flavoring is controlled by me (more, more, more!!!), and they look a whole darn lot better, too.

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My cracker – hearty, flavorful, well-seasoned

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The store cracker – sparsely seasoned, pasty texture when chewing, snaps like a piece of brittle glass and explodes across the room, but still so good it inspired me to make my own. Now, imagine how much deliciousness there must be in the homemade version!!

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You can cut them into whatever size or shape you like.  Just don’t re-roll the dough – cook the odd pointy scraps leftover from any fancy cutting you do, and enjoy them in their fun shapes.

 It’s simple: Mix the dry ingredients by hand, in the Vitamix cup with dry blade, or in a food processor …

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Add the wet ingredients.

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Pulse into a loose ball of dough.

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Dump said ball of dough onto a barely dusted work surface.

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Mold gently by hand into a ball of firm, soft dough.

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Cut the dough into workable sizes.  Halved or quartered will be fine.

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Roll the first half or quarter out thin, thin, thin.  This is a quarter of the dough, rolled out.  Brush with olive oil.

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Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and dried rosemary; I rolled over it with the rolling pin to ensure the seasonings stuck in, or you can use your hand.

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Cut into the desired shape: use a pizza cutter, decorate with a dough roller docker if you wish, use cookie cutters, biscuit cutters, a knife, a glass, a bowl … or bake whole, and break afterwards.

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Just ten minutes at 450 F will do it.  Check at the halfway point to make sure you aren’t burning it!  Enjoy with cheese, salami, spread, hummus, baba ghanoush, meats, pico de gallo …

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Salted Rosemary Croccantini

Download the Salted Rosemary Croccantini recipe here

These are easy to make.  No particular skills needed, not even very much time – I made them between chores on a busy afternoon, on a whim, with a baby dangling from the carrier on my back.  Now, imagine how much easier it must be without the baby! I weighed my flour, as you will see following, because I wanted to have precise measurements.  Scooping, fluffing, or scraping flour out of the container is just not accurate enough, although it can get you a good approximation.  

1 cup (156 g) whole wheat or white whole wheat
3/4 cup (106.5 g) bread flour (I used King Arthur white bread flour)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 generous tablespoon chopped rosemary (see below), more or less depending on your preference
1/2 cup filtered water
1/3 cup olive oil
Extra olive oil for brushing
Sea salt, additional dried rosemary, and other optional herbs for topping

Heat oven to 450.  Adjust rack to the middle; if you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven.  If not, put a large cookie sheet in the oven.
Using a Vitamix or food processor: Add dry ingredients and pulse to mix; pour oil and water into the well and pulse from low to hi, repeatedly, until a scrappy, loose ball of dough forms.  It should only take a few revolutions.
By hand: Using your hands, a pastry or dough cutter or two forks, blend the dough until a scrappy, loose ball of dough forms.
Both methods:  Dump the dough onto a lightly dusted work surface.  Gather and gently work it into a ball of dough.  Using a knife, cut into halves or quarters (quarters are easy to work with).
On unfloured, ungreased parchment paper, roll the dough out until it is thin, thin, as thin as you can make it.  Then, a little thinner.  Brush with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and rosemary.  If you like, add other herbs such as thyme, basil, or flavors such as granulated garlic.
Pick up the parchment paper and place it in the heated oven on your stone or cookie sheet.  Bake for ten minutes in the heated oven, checking at the halfway point and near the end to ensure it isn’t burning.
Remove when it is browning at the edges and looks dry and croccante!

Note: Do not use a Silpat/silicone baking mat.  The heat is too near the maximum temperatures for the silicone (480 is where they top out), especially if you are using a baking stone.  You will end up with a smoking kitchen and crackers that taste oddly like plastic.  How do I know?  I tried.  Thank me later!

Chopped or Powdered Rosemary

Download the Chopped or Powdered Rosemary Recipe here

I used dried rosemary from our garden for this.  The Krups Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder is my preferred weapon of choice: it lasts notoriously long (years, years, decades), is loud but not deafening, is pretty cheaply priced and best of all does the job required of it with speed and efficiency.  

Strip leaves from the woody stems.

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Using a coffee or spice grinder, pulse rosemary 4 times for 1 second to chop coarsely.

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To grind into a powder, pulse for about four or five seconds several times, until the fineness you desire is achieved.

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Our family of rosemary, left to right: Whole, coarsely chopped, powdered.

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Download the Salted Rosemary Croccantini recipe here

Download the Chopped or Powdered Rosemary Recipe here

Crisply crunching,

Mrs H
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70 Awesome Things to Do With Your Vitamix (and the tools you may be spared)

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That’s how I earn my blogging income, so thanks for clicking through!  

Dear nostalgic,

It’s Throwback Thursday! Time to reblog one of the hottest posts from the historic bloghouse. This post originally went up on February 11, 2013 and almost overnight it shot up to top trending post on the blog.  Vitamix shared it on their social media, which probably didn’t hurt the cause, but it’s also darn fascinating information!  If you want, you can see the old post, with old crappy picturesFor those of you that are asking, the model I prefer and recommend is the Vitamix 5200 Series Blender. This blender gives the most control and options to the user, with varying settings for speed. You can also attach the grain/dry cup and short cup for personal smoothies! I make hearty use of the large cup (that comes with) and the dry cup (for grains, coffee, dough). As a side note, those who buy other models usually end up switching to this model or adding it to their countertop.  

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Dear kitchen fiends,

I’m not embarrassed to say I love my Vitamix.  I’ve been yearning for one for years, and it was the fulfillment of many hours of longing when my husband bought me one as a gift!  It now graces my counter where it is used daily, usually several times a day.  Based on this expert evaluation, I added it to my list of the 25 best gifts for an urban homesteader last Christmas!

As I was flipping through my vintage Versatile Vita-Mix cookbook (this is the one we had growing up … I had to have it and found a used copy online), I thought it would be fun to compile a list of things one can do with a Vitamix, and even a list of tools the Vitamix could replace in the kitchen.

The Vitamix has a two-horsepower engine, and the blades travel at a speed of 400 revolutions per second.  This means that food in the blender, being hit with the four blades, is chopped 1600 times per second! This power means things that normally can’t be done in a regular blender – freezing ice cream, cooking soup, grinding flour – can be done with ease in a Vitamix (although if you run it too hard, you can overheat the engine, which will automatically shut off until it cools down.  This happens sometimes when I puree very dense nut mixtures).

This is not a comprehensive list of tasks; these are just the ones I could think of.  Vitamix is not paying me, advocating for me or suggesting that I do this; in fact, they don’t even know I’m doing it.  I just love this tool, and think everybody should hear about it!

70 Awesome Things to Do With Your Vitamix (and the tools you may be spared)

Download a printable list of the 70 Things

1. Churn and freeze ice cream (ice cream churn)

2. Cook milk for yogurt (stove)

3. Make sorbets and sherbets

4. Blend smoothies (weak-sauce blender)

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5. Chop carrots and cabbage for slaw, kraut or choucroute (mandolin)

6. Chop onions for stew (Slap-Chop or a knife and tears)

7. Shred potatoes for hash browns (shredder)

8. Cook blended or chunky soups (pot)

9. Puree batter for crepes (immersion blender)

10. Mix cold puddings (whisk)

11. Mix and cook hot puddings or custard (eons standing and stirring at the stove)

12. Crush ice for cold drinks (ice-crusher)

13. Crush ice for snow cones (ice-shaver)

14. Crush and blend slurpees (7-11)

15. Grind meat, such as hamburger (meat grinder)

16. Puree meat for spreads like deviled ham or chicken spread

17. Shred cheese (time)

18. Grind bread crumbs (processing attachment)

19. Grind quinoa, wheat, rice and other grains into flour (grain mill)

20. Grind wheat, oatmeal, cornmeal and other grains for hot cereal and porridge

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21. Grind coffee beans (coffee grinder) Read a tutorial at day2day’s blog!

22. Powder beans and other legumes for smoothies or soup

23. Blend large quantities of spices or herbs

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24. Coarsely chop beans for faster cooking

25. Hyper-rupture fruit and vegetables with skins for cheesecloth pressing or pouring into a juicer for maximum extraction and nutrients, impossible to achieve with a simple triturator/centrifigal juicer alone (commercial hydraulic press)

26. Blend vegetable drinks and cocktails

27. Blend yogurt with fruits and other flavorings

28. Blend breakfast shakes

29. Fully homogenize cocktail drinks (drink shaker)

30. Blend homemade powdered drinks like cocoa, especially involving chocolate chunks for richness

31. Knead bread dough, pizza crust, doughnuts, English muffins … (stand mixer)

32. Blend batters like muffins, biscuits, quick-breads such as banana or pumpkin loaf, popovers (hand mixer)

33. Blend pancakes and waffles, cakes

34. Whip and cook frostings (double-boiler)

35. Process pasta dough (food processor)

36. Mix cookie dough (wooden spoon)

37. Whip pie fillings like lemon meringue or pumpkin

38. Process pie crusts, both flour and graham variety (pastry blender)

39. Blend and cook baby foods (baby-food maker)

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40. Mix dips and spreads like guacamole, blue cheese and more

41. Make pureed bean spreads for sandwiches (a fork!)

42. Whip cream cheese, plain or with flavors

43. Blend fruit whips

44. Emulsify salad dressings and dipping sauces like cocktail sauce, ketchup, sweet and sour, or probiotic mustard

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45. Make mayonnaise and herbed or seasoned mayonnaise (tedious drizzling)

46. Mix Russian dressing for Reuben sandwiches!!

47. Mix and cook ice cream toppings like butterscotch

48. Blend and cook fruit syrups and mock maple syrup

49. Whip cream (Isi whipper)

50. Make finger paint!!

51. Puree nut butters and homemade Nutella (store-bought butters)

52. Blend powdered seasoning mixes (mortar and pestle)

53. Grind dehydrated fruit or vegetables into chunks for trail mixes or oatmeal

54. Grind dehydrated fruit or vegetables into powder, such as peppers (magic)

55. Blend granolas

56. Make delicious basil, kale or other unique pestos

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57. Make nut milks like almond or cashew milk

58. Froth milk for cappuccinos or steamers (milk frother)

59. Melt cheese for queso dip or chocolate for strawberries or fondue (fondue pot)

60. Blend perfect lump-free gravy (your broken arm)

61. Powder sugar so you can stop buying expensive confectioners’ sugar packets (mo money)

62. Shred chicken or other meat for Mexican potato salad, chicken salad, tacos (two forks and dexterity)

63. Blend fruit into puree for fruit leathers.

64. Blend the same fruit into puree for butters and sauces, like apple butter or apple sauce!

65. Make brown sugar.

66. Blend soap and hot water to be its own dishwasher!  Pour hot soap into the sink and wash the rest of your utensils … (dishwasher)

67. Make raw or just homemade butter (dazey churn, butter churn, tedious hours shaking a jar)

68. Make whipped, herbed, honeyed, berried or other blended butter spreads.

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69. Make homemade lotions, burn creams, and salves.

70. Powder dehydrated fruits, herbs or vegetables to use for make-up, as sweeteners or colorings in food, flavoring drinks …

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Download a printable list of the 70 Things

As a new mommy, what’s the best feature of all for me, you may ask?  Even when my baby is clinging to me and not in the mood to be put down, I have chopped cabbage for kraut, blended smoothies, made mayonnaise and washed the Vitamix – all with one hand! 

This is the blender I got, and (perhaps needless to say), I highly recommend it! I chose this specific blender because I felt it would give me the most options when it came to speeds and processing times.

What else do you do with your Vitamix?  Is there a tool or technique I’m missing here?  If you have any recipes, share your blog link or just type a recipe or tip into a comment!

Crushing like a best,

Mrs H
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