The Mixer
By Lydia on June 22, 2009 2:05 PM| | Comments (7)
Blerg. Two days of seemingly non-stop restaurant slaving, followed by cooking an extensive dinner and a late radio show, have left me feeling less witty and delightful than usual. I did manage to find my kitchen under the dishes, and am now ready (ostensibly) to prepare tea for my family. This tea thing is a semi weekly event, held at different houses, where my aunts, mama and grandma all get an excuse to wash their good china and make things like scones. The food sometimes gets quite extravagant. My aunt (Pie Baker Sue) has been known to make multiple cakes, and scones, and cookies for one of these little parties. As my big birthday prezzie last week was a mixer, I invited everyone for tea to prove that I am worthy.

A note about the Mixer: it has been something of a dream of mine for years. I pretty much had given up hope of getting one as anything other than a wedding preasent, and that's a dumb reason to get married. It is huge, silvery, if you try really hard you can anthropomorphize it into a little kitchen buddha with t-rex arms and a cyclops eye. Also, it opens up whole worlds of recipes heretofor unnattempted. So far I have made gingersnaps (successful, except I didn't have molasses and substituted maple syrup: less potent, surely) lemon bars (complete disaster: tasted like scrambled eggs) cheddar/black pepper biscuits (delish, made into eggs Benedict the next morning) sesame crackers (awesome with hummus) angel food cake (with strawberries from the farmer's market and whipped cream) and cheddar/jalapeno cornbread (nice and cakey.) Its been about a week. So now, I am supposed to impress people but I truly don't have any room in my fridge for leftovers! At least the kitchen is clean. Since getting this mixer I've felt bound to honor it, and my supplications include heavy and frequent scrubbings of its countertop shrine.

The sesame crackers were maybe the most enlightening, in that they make me reluctant to buy crackers ever again. I have touched on the cracker phenomenon before, but only to note that for their ease in preparation they enjoy a disproportionate impressiveness. Bring baba ghanouj to a party? Nice job. Bring it with homemade crackers and people will be crowding around, "Did you make those???" Yes. And it took more time for me to get dressed. That aside, these little guys are so tasty, so far beyond the supermarket pale, that they may become staples for me. With about 4 ingredients and no special instructions about gluten formation or rising or any of that, you can make these and watch a TV show at the same time.

These are really basic, but with one extra step- toasting the sesame seeds, they get serious flavor. Best with a like-minded dip, hummus, baba g, tabbouleh and just plain feta are all nice, but a lemony tapenade wouldn't be wrong either. From the King Arthur Flour Bakers Companion, a wonderful reference for anyone starting to bake. 

1 1/2 cup pastry flour (the one in the box)
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup water
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup sesame seeds

First, toast your seeds. Put them in a dry, nonstick pan. Turn your heat on medium. In a few minutes the seeds will start to pop and jump. Stir or flip them around and keep cooking. The pan will start to smoke alarmingly. This is also good, just stir or flip every 30 seconds or so. You will see the color change happen. If things are going too fast, lift your pan for a bit and flip the seeds. When they are glossy and chestnut brown and your kitchen smells like sesame, they are done. Let cool in the pan, stirring once or twice off heat. Proceed. Preheat your oven to 425. (You can do this midway through the recipe, as you have a half hour of resting time, and if you put your oven on it makes the whole house like, 1 million degrees. Just remember to preheat a baking sheet in the preheating oven. Put it on the lowest rack.) Throw everything in your new stand mixer. Alternatively, throw it in a bowl. Stir to combine well and knead it for a minute or less. Shape it into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 min. Then make into 8 equal size balls, flatten into discs, cover with the wrap and let sit another 15 min. Use a rolling pin to make 6" rounds of each dough ball.

This is the fun part (aka, the part where you get burned.) Your need to get 2 dough flats into the oven and onto the baking sheet as quickly as you can without burning your arms. Don't let too much heat out of the oven. Cook for 3 minutes, then, again as quickly as you can, open the oven and flip the rounds. You can use your fingers if you're a masochist, but tongs or a spatula are far safer. Cook about 3 minutes on the other side, and remove to a rack. Repeat with the remaining rounds. If you like you can brush these with sesame or olive oil. And you made crackers! Amaze your friends! Keep in a reused airtight takeout or yogurt container.

In other news, Liberal Snacks, the video accompaniment to Scary Dinner, is coming soon. With cooking and vegan jokes by Lydia Clowney (kidding) and filmography by Esther Clowney, this is sure to be another thing to watch when you're really bored. We even got to plug it last night on WYCE. Thanks again to Michael Cunningham for that, and for helping us with the cake!  

LIBERAL SNACKS!!

I CAN'T WAIT!

Hey George!! Thanks for listening last night, and for your awesome request. There was this one point in that song where all four of us ( Me Esther, Fiona, Mike) all went "charlie how your angels get... what? " None of us remembered the movie tie-in...

I listened over here in New Zealand too.

Other than the ill-advised (GEORGE) Beyonce song.... it sounded good!

I liked the modest mouse song. I haven't listened to that in ages.

Thanks! Rad! And just so you know, it would have been "say my name" if George hadn't made his request... Either way, we all win!! Whoo! Beyonce!!

Do I cook the sesame seeds on the stovetop, I mean, the range?

Yes! Just toast them in the skillet on the burner.

I would have approved of "Say my name".... I can't support anything that was made specifically for a remake of television series that stars cameron diaz.... and features one of bill murray's weakest performances (granted I've never seen the film. whoops.).