Christmas Dinner

Last night we enjoyed quite a nice dinner of surf and turf, and of course some of great sides.  The menu included salt-cake rib roast, salt-cake snapper, grilled Brussels Sprouts, popovers and Pinot Noir.

For the rib roast, cooking time was a few hours so that was planned well in advance.  The ‘cake’ surrounds the roast and then it sits on the grill to cook to perfection.  When done, you get to crack, break, peel it off.

IMG_2508The fish was one I’ve made several times the past couple months and that shared the oven with the popovers.  We think it might have affected the popping of the popovers because they were pretty much just mounds of bread-like things.

For the Brussels Sprouts, we used an Alton Brown recipe.  You microwave the sprouts for about 3 minutes then toss them in dry mustard, paprika, garlic, salt and olive oil.

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You skewer them then put them on the grill for 10 minutes, turning once.

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IMG_2515Final product of everything —

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We enjoyed Pinots from Chile and (Sonoma County) CA with dinner, as well.  The Chilean wine was Apaltagua and the CA one was Banshee.  Both very nice pairings to match the surf and turf.

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Let’s Get Crack(er)in’

Pre-dinner, appetizers, crackers.  Go to store, reach for X box.  Get home, open cardboard then bag (or just rip open the bag of pita chips — don’t lie).  Why must we always do this?

I am crafting ideas for an event in a couple weeks and wanted to do a test pilot recipe for homemade super crisp crackers.  Did some googling and an Alton Brown recipe came up on Food TV‘s site.  How can you go wrong with Alton?  I used the basics and threw in some lemon zest and vodka to complement some of the fish I aim to serve the crackers with.

Ingredients
5 ounces whole-wheat flour
4 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
<used all whole wheat because I was out of regular!>
1/3 cup poppy seeds
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 1/2 ounces water
<used 1.5 ounces vodka and 5 ounces water>
added 1.5 teaspoons lemon zest
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I went with the awesome Penzey’s dry lemon peel for my zest that I wanted to add.   Add water, 15 minutes later, voila!
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Then, you just mix the dry ingredients, blend in the wet ones, knead a few times and break into 8 small balls of dough.
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You let them sit for 15 minutes then roll them out to desired thickness, based on what kind of cracker you’d like.
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Put the entire piece of dough in the oven.  You’re supposed to flip them half way but I love baking stuff on oven-proof racks to avoid the flipping need.  After 6-15 minutes, depending on what you choose (based on Alton’s specs), take the crisps out of the oven, let cool, then break into desired size of crackers.
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The recipe (online) got rave reviews.  I think my effort to put my own flavor into it altered it a bit in an off way (the vodka made them a bit ‘soggy’) but they are still darn edible.  I just always love tweaking things.  But, give them a try!  Very easy to make and a fun alternative to store-bought crackers.