Friday, January 8, 2010

Rosie Tries Her Hand At Alinea - Cheese In Cracker.

I wanted to try something different yesterday and about as different as you can get would be trying a menu out of the Alinea cookbook. Here's the restaurant's website in case you're interested. And here's what Michael Ruhlman had to say about this "cookbook." I've already done one recipe, quite successfully - the bacon on a sex swing. Delicious. So, I'm trying Cheese in Cracker. The sloppy version. If you want to see the proper version, go to Carol's blog here.
First, the ingredients for the cracker dough. These were all measured out in grams and I don't think I should give you the exact amount of the ingredients. Damn copyright infringement. x grams warm water y grams fresh yeast (I used regular.) z grams sugar w grams flour u grams Kosher salt t grams melted butter Kosher salt
I poured the yeast into the water.
I added the sugar and mixed together.
And waited 5 minutes until the yeast was proofed.
Flour went in.
And the melted butter.
Hand-mixing is not the way to go here.
I turned to my trusty KitchenAid, put on the dough hook, and beat for 6 minutes ...
... or until dough comes together in a firm ball.
This is unlike any dough I've ever worked with. It's very firm, but malleable. I covered the dough with plastic wrap, did my trick of nuking a damp kitchen towel and wrapping it around the bowl, and let it rise in my microwave for about 30 minutes.
It rose quite a lot during that 30 minutes. Then I refrigerated it overnight.
Here it is this morning when I started working.
Perhaps I should have oiled the bowl, but I wasn't directed to do so. Everything pulled right off though.
I squished it back into a ball ...
... and divided it into 4 parts. Now here's where the Alinea recipe gets a bit sketchy. It says to roll out just 1 of the dough balls to about 1/16 inch thick and save remaining dough for another use. Huh? Then the directions tell me to cut the dough sheet into 8 1-inch squares and transfer the 8 squares to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Well, if I've gone to all the trouble to make the damn crackers, I'm going to make more than eight.
I rolled the dough to 1/16 inch thick. Like I said, this dough is unlike any bread dough I've made. It's very elastic and it needed no flour sprinkled on the board.
And cut into 1-inch squares.
I placed each square on my baking sheet.
I liberally sprinkled with Kosher salt. These went into a 450 degree oven for 6 minutes.
I probably should've cooked these longer since they didn't brown. After cooling on a rack, I made a small hole in each puffy little cracker.
I also made another batch from one more dough ball, since when I looked at the recipe for the filling, I figured I would need more. (I did.)
Ingredients for the Cheddar Cheese Sauce: x grams Aged Wisconsin Cheddar cheese (or sharp yellow cheddar in my case) y grams of whole milk (or a mixture of heavy cream and 1% milk) z grams of Kosher salt w grams of sugar
I put the cheddar in my blender, added the salt and sugar, and the milk I had brought to a simmer. Blend on high speed until cheddar is melted and mixture is very smooth.
I'm liking the cheese sauce.
I got out my little syringe and sucked up some sauce.
And I injected each little puffy cracker with cheese.
Taste test: Me - meh. Mr. Hawthorne - loved them. Perhaps the labor-intensiveness threw me off. Perhaps the fact I should have browned them played into the mix. They weren't crackery. But I liked the cheese.
Now, what the hell should I do with these two leftover dough balls? Perhaps pizza cracker dough?


Marilyn said...

Heh, reminds me of an Ina Garten recipe where the amounts don't match up with the finished product. Poor planning if you ask me.

Still, this looks interesting. Too bad it only rated a "meh" from you, though.

Anonymous said...

The reason that there is left over is not an accident. It was the minimal amount you can create and have the recipe and ratios work properly -- after testing we found this out. Everything is scaled to 8 servings in the book... this just makes substantially more. A few of the recipes were like that... and we erred on the side of a proper result.

Pizza crust... not a bad idea. Or more of these... filled with other stuff (perhaps, pizza stuff inside?) And yep, a bit longer on the cooking would be perfect.


Nick Kokonas

Rosie Hawthorne said...

I apologize to Alinea for my lame attempt at 'Cheese in Cracker'
I should've cooked the little buggers a bit longer.

Thank you, Mr. Kokonas, for responding.

PS Nick, my man. Anytime you want to send me and three significant others up to the incredibility and incredulisciousness of Alinea, please feel free to do so.
Can you get me tickets to Oprah while I'm in town?

Luv ya!

Kathy said...

Rosie, you have officially hit the big time. Whoo-hoo!

Anonymous said...

Wow. That was cool of Mr. Kokonos to respond as he did.
I would make focaccia: pour about 1/2 cup olive oil (light) in a rimmed cookie sheet, spread out the dough, flip it over so top and bottom both have oil, dimple the top with your fingers, let rise one hour, dimple again (I don't know why), sprinkle on kosher salt and bake at 450 for 20-25 minutes. I have made it with club soda instead of water and it really does something for the texture.

Anonymous said...

I actually use 1/4 cup oil. Also, let the focaccia sit in the cookie sheet for ten minutes after baking so all the oil is absorbed into the bread.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

NMOAC, I love focaccia. That's pretty much the way I make it but I add fresh rosemary on top.