Fare Exchange: Many cooks crack the code on seasoned crackers

Fare Exchange: Many cooks crack the code on seasoned crackers

March 30th, 2011 in Entertainmentfood

By Jane Henegar

Good morning, dear readers. I have been going back and forth to the computer screen on this sunny/cloudy spring day, and each stop I make yields a couple of letters from you. The topic has been the same in every single case, except for a request for a reprint of the wannabe Levain chocolate chip cookies.

But first, the requests, as always. All of these came from a conversation between a longtime and a new reader: omelets that stay soft and are never crusty; how to use frozen blueberries, grapes and raspberries; overnight egg casseroles made with white bread, how to cook boneless pork ribs, a special-occasion vegetable dish called Green Bean Bundles, and "please some old/new ideas for Easter dinner recipes."

The request from Linda Morris was for crackers prepared with Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix, and you answered: Jennifer Cox of Summerville, Ga., Nancy Rokicki of Harrison, Beverly Sakurada, C. Land, Norma Corn White of Athens, Tenn., Millly Rawlings, D Hart, Darlene Whitaker and, finally, Mary Zelle. It reminds me of a week many years ago, when a request for a Sock It To Me Cake resulted in (if memory serves, which it doesn't always) more than 100 recipes.

And now, let's get cracking ... or crackering ... with the first recipes in answer to Mrs. Morris' request. Unlike the rest of the recipes in our inbox currently, three recipes call for saltines, not oyster crackers. The Cajun version came from Jennifer Cox.

Cajun Crackers

2 (1-ounce) packets dry ranch dressing mix

11/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper

11/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups canola oil

1 pound saltine crackers

In a 2-gallon resealable bag, mix together the dressing mix, cayenne and pepper flakes. Add the oil, and mix thoroughly. Add the crackers, season the bag, and turn until the crackers are evenly coated. Turn the bag once every 20 to 30 minutes until the liquid is entirely absorbed by the crackers, about 2 hours. If desired, spread the crackers onto paper towels to absorb any extra oil before serving. Store in an airtight container. The recipe is easily halved or doubled, and the crackers store well for several days.

Darlene Whitaker sent a similar version.

Red Pepper Crackers

1 box saltine crackers (do not use low-fat)

1 package ranch dressing mix

11/2 cups canola oil (do not use olive oil)

2 tablespoons red pepper flakes

Place crackers in a flat container, Rubbermaid or Tupperware. In separate container, whisk dressing mix and oil together. Add pepper flakes. Pour slowly over all crackers. Flip container every 5 minutes, 4 or 5 times.

The crackers now are ready to eat. They go great with chili, potato soup, chicken salad, etc.

Beverly Sakurada's recipe is very similar. Here are her directions for preparing the crackers; some industry and energy is required. "Put crackers in layers in a big container with a tight lid. In a small bowl mix other ingredients well, and pour over crackers. Put on the top and shake it all over, side to side and up and down, for 15 minutes. This is the hardest part - your arms get tired." She says to let it sit for two more days, "if you can wait that long," shaking periodically, before eating.

It was not too long ago that we had a number of authentic French recipes. One part of that discussion had to do with whether, in an authentic quiche, the bacon should be cooked beforehand. Peggy Walkup, who got her version from an impeccable source, "Julia Child's Kitchen Wisdom," votes for cooked.

Quiche Lorraine from Julia Child

6 strips crisply cooked bacon

Partially baked 9-inch tart or pie shell

3 large eggs

About 1 cup cream

Salt, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg

Heat oven to 375 F. Break bacon into pieces and strew in shell. Blend the eggs with enough cream to make 11/2 cups of custard, and blend in seasonings to taste. Pour into a shell to within 1/8-inch of the rim. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until puffed and browned. Unmold onto a round platter, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Quiche proportions: Any quiche may be made with either heavy or light cream or with milk. The proportions always are 1 egg in a measuring cup plus milk or cream to the 1/2-cup level; 2 eggs and milk or cream to the 1 cup level; 3 eggs and milk or cream to the 11/2-cup level, and so forth.

And finally, here's a recipe from a Southern Living collection sent to us by an anonymous Exchanger. Sweet potatoes are indeed gaining in popularity, and here's a combination of sweet potatoes and sweet onions with an unusual seasoning ingredients. But read on.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Onions

4 to 5 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 large sweet onions, cut into wedges

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons fajita seasoning

Toss together all ingredients; place on an aluminum foil-lined baking pan. Bake at 450 F for 30 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Prep time: 15 minutes. Baking time: 30 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

I've got one last serving of soup in the fridge and am wondering if we are leaving soup season. My husband reminds me that it won't be truly warm into May, so there may be weeks more to enjoy the most comforting of foods. And what about cold soups? If you are an expert in the cold soup department, let us know so that we can learn from you.

To Reach Us

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

  • Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750.

  • E-mail: janehenegar@gmail.com.

  • Fax: 423-668-5092.