Wannabe Ritz Crackers

Once a year for American Thanksgiving (yes we’re Canadian but we got some big NFL fans over here 😉) we usually go all out and I spend days prepping food to keep everyone’s tummies full while beer and football goes down for the entire day. I like to make as much from scratch as I possibly can and this year I figured I would have my go at homemade crackers. Now they aren’t exactly the same as Ritz crackers but they were definitely close enough and quite simple to make!  Like most things done from scratch they are a bit time consuming but you get a lot out of this recipe which makes it worth your while.

A quick side note, to help hold the perfect roundness of the crackers, I would recommend rolling your dough on parchment paper so you don’t have to lift them which causes some to become oval instead of round. eliminating this should help them stay round if your anal about such things like I am. I didn’t do that for the first batch of made hence the not so round crackers in the photo. You learn as you go right? 

  • 2 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt 
  • 2 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbs oil 
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbs butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 tsp baking powder 
  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. 
  2. Using a pastry cutter or a food processor cut in the butter until it resembles bread crumbs.
  3. Pour in the oil and cut in until well blended. 
  4. Slowly pour in the milk and water, using a wooden spoon or a food processor, stir in until a ball forms and the dough can be handled.  
  5. Thightly wrap in saran wrap and allow to rest for 15 -20 minutes. You can preheat your oven to 400° at this point.
  6. So no is where I would recommend using  floured piece of parchment paper to roll your dough and cut out your crackers on. This is optional.                        Flour parchment paper or your workspace and begin rolling out pieces of dough until they are almost paper thin. (This is very important, if they are too thick they will be more like cracker/biscuits and they aren’t too tasty either) Once they are rolled out and cut using whatever cutters you have available to you, place them on a baking pan (I found stoneware really worked the best if you have it) and make sure you poke lots of little holes all over the crackers. (If you skip this step they will puff up like balloons!) Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the tops are turning golden brown.
  7. Once removed from the oven brush immediately with butter and sprinkle sea salt on the wet butter. if the butter dries the salt won’t stick so you have to be fast like a cat! 
  8. Continue until all the dough is gone 😊 

    This recipe makes close to what you would get in a box of ritz crackers.

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    Beautiful Buttermilk Biscuits 

    Being in Canada and all it is difficult to find anywhere that serves fresh buttermilk biscuits or biscuits of any kind for that matter. A problem that is easily solved by quickly and easily whipping up a batch at home!

    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 cup Buttermilk<- click here for a DIY recipe
    • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder 
    • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt 
    • 2 tbs cold lard 
    1. Sift together all the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl.
    2. Drop the 2 tbs of cold lard into the flour mix and with a pastry cutter, fork or your good old trusty fingers begin breaking the lard up into the flour until it is pea sized.
    3. Pour in the buttermilk and stir well with a wooden spoon. If your mix is too dry add more buttermilk 1 tbs at a time, if it is too wet add more flour 1 tbs at a time.
    4. Once it is tacky and can be handled dump the dough onto a floured workspace and knead the dough 4 to 5 times.
    5. Add a little more flour to your workspace and form the dough into a log and cut dough into 5 even pieces.
    6. Round the dough into balls and bake in your preheated oven in a small greased cast iron pan or a small greased baking dish for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown.
    7. Remove from heat and immediately brush with butter. Lots of butter, you want it pouring down the sides.
    8. Cover with a clean towel and allow to cool.

    You can easily double this recipe if 5 biscuits aren’t enough.

    Extra Flaky Vodka Pie Crust

    I’m a pretty big fan of pies, mostly because of the crust. My total week spot is flaky pie crust. So we all know about lard and how it makes a flaky crust but what if you could add to it for the ultimate flake? Well it turns out if your looking for that ultimate flake, a combination of lard and vodka is what you really want to use. You only need a mini bottle of good quality vodka to make this light and flaky pie crust.

    Makes 1 full pie crust

    • 2 cups + 1/2 cup for rolling, all purpose unbleached flour 
    • 1/2 ice cold water
    •  1/2 cup + 2 tbs butter, cold & cubed
    • 2 tbs lard, cold & cubed
    • 1 tbs good quality vodka ( grey goose is a good option and the minis are affordable )
    • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
    1. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk flour & salt together.
    2. Using a fork or a food processor blend flour, salt, butter and lard together until it has the appearance of fine bread crumbs.
    3. Pour in vodka and mix well. Larger clumps should start to form in the mix.
    4. Pour in the cold water and mix until a ball has formed.
    5. Firmly wrap in saran wrap and let the dough rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
    6. Separate dough into 2 8 oz pieces. On a floured surface roll out to fit the pie dish.
    7. Fill crust and bake according to pie directions.

    Tangzhong Roux 

    Tangzhong is basically a water roux that makes your bread nice and soft as well as helps your bread feel fresher longer. It is obviously an Asian technique that seems to be popping up in lots of recipes in the western side of the world. It is also used in Yeast Donuts.

    • 1 cup water
    • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
    1. In a large pot over medium heat, bring the water to a light boil.
    2. Add flour and whisk until smooth.
    3. Continue whisking until the roux has become thick and your whisk leaves a line in the pot that does not close together.
    4. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before using.

    Keeps for 2 – 3 days in the fridge

    Fresh & Fluffy Yeast Donuts

    Almost everyone loves a good fresh donut. Surprisingly they are not that difficult to make either! (Don’t be intimated by how long the recipe is, it takes less time than it seems ) I had to wait to post this so The Dude could taste and judge. Considering there wasn’t much left on the platter before bed last night I am thinking I nailed it.

    A little side note about yeast donuts. When they are deep-fried they develop air pockets which makes these donuts perfect for filling with puddings and jellies. If you’re looking for donuts that you used to get at the carnival those are Cake Donuts and are equally delicious!

    • 2 – 2 & 1/2 (+ extra for kneading) cups all purpose flour the amount of flour needed varies depending on your altitude.
    • 3 & 1/2 tbs salted butter
    • 3 tbs sugar
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 cup warm water, between 105°-110°
    • 1/4 cup milk, boiled and cooled
    • 2 tsp yeast
    • 1 egg, room temp
    • 1/2 cup Tangzhong Roux <- click for recipe
    • 4 cups canola oil for frying
    • Oil for greasing hands
    1. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine sugar and warm water and sprinkle all the yeast on top. Let rest for 10 minutes. If yeast doesn’t not foam your water was either too hot, too cold or your yeast is dead and you will need to buy some more.
    2. While the yeast rises melt and cool the butter.
    3. Once your 10 minutes is up and the yeast has foamed up you can add 1 cup of flour, salt, milk, Tangzhong, egg and melted butter. With a wooden spoon or dough hooks and a stand mixer, mix the first addition of ingredients together.
    4. Continue adding flour 1/2 cups at a time until the dough pulls from the sides.
    5. Optional but recommended step: Heat oven to 200°, once the oven has reached that temperature turn it off. A nice warm oven will help your yeast rises. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and place in the warm oven. The pot of steaming water will steam up the oven. Humidity also does wonders for rising yeast.
    6. Flour a work space, oil your hands and remove the ball of dough. Knead for 8 minutes, adding flour as needed. Once the dough no longer sticks to your hands and the counter stop adding flour. Continue kneading until 8 mins is up.
    7. Place the dough in  a large oiled bowl, cover saran wrap in oil on one side and cover the bowl ( oil side facing the dough ) place bowl in the warm oven. Let rise for 1 – 1 & 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. If you take the optional step (#5) it will probably take about 45 to an hour.
    8. Once time is up, flour your workspace again, punch down the dough. Remove it from the bowl and roll it out to 1/3 inch thick.
    9. If you don’t have a donut cutter you can use a wide mouthed glass. If you want to make donuts holes and ring donuts use a shot glass to cut out the centre.
    10. Begin heating oil either in your deep fryer or in a Dutch Oven and a candy thermometer, bring to 350°
    11. When the oil is hot and the time is up, in small batches begin deep-frying the donuts, turning after 40 – 35 seconds. Until the oil strains off a bit the donuts will appear darker at first. As they dry off the color will lighten up. Using tongs flip donuts and cook for another 40 – 35 seconds. Your going for a golden brown color.                        The donut holes will take much less time because they are much smaller. Mine took about 15 seconds per side.
    12. Place cooked donuts on a wired rack and allow to cool.
    13. For flavoring the donuts you will have to work in batches as you don’t want them too hot where you’ll burn yourself but still hot enough that the icing, cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar will stick. See below for coating ingredients.

    Donuts will be good for 1 day, I doubt they would last past a day anyways!

    Glaze

    • 1 cup icing sugar
    • 2 tbs milk
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract 

    In a large bowl mix everything together and dip half of warm donut. Let sit on a wired rack until hardened or eaten.

    Cinnamon Sugar

    • 1/3 cup white sugar
    • 1 tbs cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

    In a large bowl toss both sides of warm donuts in cinnamon sugar. Place on plate or in container or eat.

    Sugar Powder

    • 1 cup powdered sugar

    Pour sugar in a medium sized bowl and toss warm donuts on both sides. Place on a plate, container or eat.

    Super Soft Tortillas

    Another simple flat bread is the ever so loved tortilla and what is better than freshly made that day by you? They are fairly quickly to make and do only require 5 ingredients you most likely already have lying around. I guess that can qualify as cheaper than buying them too 😉


    This recipe makes half a dozen 8.5 inch tortillas. Double recipe if more are needed.

    • 1 & 1/2 cup flour
    • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
    • 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 2 & 1/2 tbs oil
    • 1/2 cup hot water
    1. Combine all the dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.
    2. Mix in oil and mix together with your hands until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. See photo 👇
    3. Pour in hot water and mix with a wooden spoon until a ball has formed.
    4. Drop dough onto a floured workspace and begin kneading adding flour a handful at a time until it no longer sticks to yiur hands but is still very soft. Do not knead in to much flour. Depending on your elevation the amount of flour varies.
    5. Once dough is no longer sticky wrap in cling wrap and let rest for 30 mins on the counter.
    6. Divide dough into half a dozen even pieces or a dozen if you doubled the batch  ( I weigh mine on  my kitchen scale so each piece is 2 ounces  ) cover with saran wrap or seal in a plastic bag to prevent dough from drying.
    7. Heat griddle to 400°, place a piece of paper towel inside a large ziploc bag and roll out the first piece of dough as round as you can make it. With practice it gets better and easier.
    8. Heat for 1 – 2 mins per side. My griddle takes about a minute and a half and I flip and remove when they start to get light brown spots. You don’t want to brown them to much or they will be crunchy and brittle instead of soft and pliable.
    9. As soon as the tortilla is done cooking remove put it in the ziploc bag on top of the paper towel, place another paper towel on top of the tortilla and seal shut.

    This is very important as the heat will begin to create sweat inside the bag and the paper towel will become damp helping the tortillas soften up and become even more pliable.  Continue this process until all tortillas are cooked.

    Aged Pizza Dough

    Normally my pizza dough is not much to brag about. It wasn’t horrible by any means but it wasn’t blowing our minds either.  After picking up this magazine about making pizza. What Toppings go under or above your cheese and how different cheeses melt. It was all pretty interesting but not nearly as interesting as how they insisted you let the dough rises for 2-3 days in the fridge. The cold slows the yeasts ability to double in size and allows it to ferment over a longer period of time, which enhances the taste of your dough. Well I am proud to report that it is true. We did the same dough both ways. One pizza the day it was made and we made the other pizzas 2 days later and the flavor was significantly different and much more enjoyable. 👌

    • 1 & 1/2 cups warm water **Note** The temperature should always be in between 105° – 110° in order to properly activate the yeast. I personally use a thermometer so I know I have the right amount of heat and I always go for 110° to compensate for the temperature dropping once it hits the cold yeast.
    • 1 & 1/2 tsp yeast
    • 1 & 1/2 tsp honey or sugar
    • 1 & 1/2 tbs olive oil, you can get crazy and use an infused oil
    • 3 – 4 cups all purpose flour + extra for kneading
    • 1 tsp salt
    • Fresh herbs to taste if desired
    • Oil and cornmeal for the pans

     

     

    1.  In a large bowl stir the warm water and sugar together. Sprinkle yeast on top and let it sit for 10 minutes.  If your yeast isn’t rising within 10 minutes your water is either too cold, too hot or your yeast is dead and you will have to buy some more.
    2. Using a wooden spoon or a mixer with dough hooks begin mixing the oil, 1/2 cup of flour and any herbs you choose to use with the yeast. 
    3. Continue mixing adding flour by the 1/2 cups until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and can easily be handled.
    4. Flour a section of your counter and rub your hands down with some oil ( this keeps the dough from sticking to your hands. You may have to reapply it periodically ) and remove the dough from the bowl to the floured counter and knead for 8 mins continuously adding flour under and on top of the dough until it no longer sticks to the counter or unoiled hands.
    5. Once the 8 minutes is up place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out in the fridge. 
    6. Let the dough sit in the fridge undisturbed for 2-3 days.
    7. On day 2 or 3 remove the dough 1 hour before using it bringing it to room temperature. In the meantime, oil your pans and sprinkle with a generous amount of cornmeal and preheat oven to 425°.
    8. For a thick crust pizza divide dough in 2 equal pieces and roll out to the size of your pan. For a thinner crust divide the dough into 4. ( With 4 pizzas you get that awesime New York style thin crust, yum! ) Once you have the right size, fold the dough in half and then in half again making it easier to lift and place onto the pan.
    9. Unfold and center the dough and begin adding your Toppings of choice.
    10. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it as ovens don’t all work the same.

     

    Coconut Milk Naan Bread

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    Naan goes hand in hand with dishes like tikki masala, butter chicken and vindaloo to name a few. It’s sweet and soft and with a nice twist of coconut milk this version is sure to please. It’s best made in the fall because you have to crank the oven to 500° because that’s how hot a tandoori oven…unless you actually have one then all the power to you and I’m jealous! 😉

     

    • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
    • 1/2 cup lukewarm canned coconut milk 
    • 1/4 cups honey
    • 1 tbs yeast
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 3 tbs coffee cream
    • 3 & 1/2 cups flour
    • I small pot of boiling water
    • Oil for hands and greasing

     

    Before I begin with the instructions I want to give this little tip about the water. I wish I knew this before because it would have saved me 10 years of messing up all my doughs and preventing me from ever advancing.

    When you read warm water or lukewarm water, do not think about how you would run a bath for a baby because that just isn’t hot enough. Lukewarm for yeast is between 105 – 110 degrees Fahrenheit . I personally use a candy thermometer to make sure I get my temperature right. The yeast will be under activated if it’s too cold or you’ll kill it because it is too hot, the Goldy Lock zoned  is important.

    1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil over the stove.
    2. In a large mixing bowl combine the honey, yeast and water. Set a timer for 10 minutes and allow it to sit until foamy. 
    3. Using a stand mixer or by hand begin to add the cream, coconut milk , salt and egg.
    4. Begin adding the flour 1/4 cup at a time.
    5. Once a ball of dough has formed and it is no longer sticking to the sides rub oil over your hands to help reduce the dough from sticking to your hands while you kneed.
    6. Flour a work surface and begin kneading the dought for 6-8 minutes.
    7. Place dough into a greased bowl, cover with a piece of oiled saran wrap, place the boiling water in the bottom of the oven and the bowl of dough on the rack above it and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour. ( The pot of boiling water will create just the right amount of heat and humidity helping the yeast to rise more efficiently )
    8. Once your hour is up, remove the saran wrap and punch the dough down and dump it onto a floured work surface. Divide the dough into 10 pieces -12 pieces, cover with saran wrap and let rise for another 30 minutes.
    9. While the dough rises preheat the oven to 500° and generously brush oil on piece of tin foil placed over a baking pan.
    10. Once the 30 minutes is up roll out 2 pieces of dough and toss them onto the oiled baking pan. Bake for 2-3 minutes, checking after 2 minutes. If it is browning flip it, if it is a light golden color leave it for the extra minute.( Don’t worry about the dough bubbling up, that is what you want  Flip the bread over and bake for another 2 minutes, keeping a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. You’ll also want to check the edges when you are flipping them to make sure they don’t burn other wise you lose that soft bendable awesomness that Naan should have.
    11. Once done, remove the bread from the oven. At this point you can either put it in a container or bag lined with paper towel if you want just plain Naan or you can brush it with Garlic Butter while it’s still hot. Yum!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Fresh Pasta Dough

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    This is the first pasta dough recipe I have ever tried. It was easy and has worked beautifully every time I’ve made it. Feel free to tweak away by adding fresh chopped herbs or seasonings of any kind. Why have bland boring pasta when you can jazz it up? Food should be fun and exciting!

    • 2 cups of flour
    • 3 eggs
    • 1/2 TSP of salt
    • 1/2 TSP olive oil
    • Any fresh herbs finely minced to taste ( optional )

     

    Dump flour on the counter and create a well in the centre.

    Add all the eggs, oil, salt and desired herbs (optional ) in the well.

    With a fork break the yolks and mix well.

    Continue mixing and slowly start to pull the wall of flour into the egg mixture.

    Once a ball of dough has been formed flour a large space of counter, oil your hands up to prevent the dough from sticking and knead for about 5 mins. The dough should be smooth and no lumps. Wrap it up in Saran Wrap and allow to rest on the counter for 20-30 minutes.

    Begin running the dough out using a pasta machine. Start on the widest setting, running the dough through 2 or 3 times per setting until desired thickness is achieved.

    ** If you do not have a pasta machine it will be very difficult to roll the dough thin enough but is doable with enough elbow grease and patience. A pasta machine with a hand crank is all I use and they’re about $25-$30 and it is super handy if pasta making is up your alley **