One of the first food blogs I ever read was Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks. It was way back in 2006; I was on a night shift at work (I used to work in a 24-hr news channel then!) and one of my supervisors on the news desk had told me about StumbleUpon when I had mentioned that night shifts can be long and boring. I signed up for it, and it was the only way I managed to survive those awful night shifts! I discovered 101 Cookbooks through StumbleUpon and it was my passage into the world of food blogging and whole foods. I was blown away by the gorgeous pictures; the vibrancy of the ingredients and the simplicity of many of the dishes created. 101 was in fact, home to many firsts: first intro to food blogging, as well as miso, soba and quinoa. I had read about soba noodles in Ruth Reichl’s books but had never seen a picture of it. (I didn’t spend much time on the internet before 2006. That may explain it.)
I visit the site often and follow Heidi on Instagram, since she is an unending source of inspiration and prettiness. (I just had to use that word. Prettiness. And hey- no one’s on Instagram to appreciate goriness; it’s all about sharing and finding your pictorial happy pill!) Even though I
stalk follow her online, I have actually never attempted a recipe from her collection.
I was looking for cracker recipes with semolina, and one of the first ones I found was Heidi’s Olive Oil Crackers recipe. I didn’t even bother looking at any others once I saw the ingredients list. This recipe too, uses two flours: whole wheat and semolina (sooji or rava) and it can be dressed up with herbs, spices, phancy salts or cheese. It is not as quick as the whole-grain crackers recipe I shared, though. The dough requires a resting time of 30 minutes to an hour, plus you can only bake these crackers in small batches, and it can take a while depending on the size of your oven. (Mine is small.)
Don’t be fooled by the rustic look of these crackers- I think they are meant to be oblong and a little imperfect- they are delightfully thin and crispy; and the semolina adds a touch of sweetness as well. And again, it is quite satisfying when those between-meals hunger pangs hit!
I was also excited to try this recipe because it gave me a chance to finally use the dough-hook attachment on my mixer! (There. Another first thanks to Heidi and 101!) The dough is, like she describes, “a bit tacky, not too dry, not too sticky,” and it needs to rest at room temperature for half to one hour. A lightly floured surface works best for rolling it out, as you need to get it nice and thin.
BASIL & OLIVE OIL SEMOLINA CRACKERS (Adapted from 101 Cookbooks.)
- 3/4 cup atta flour or white whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup semolina (sooji/rava)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Handful of finely torn basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little more for rolling the dough
- 1/2 cup warm water
- In a large bowl, whisk the flours and salt together, then whisk in the basil.
- Add the olive oil and water.
- Using the dough hook attachment of your mixer, mix the dough on medium speed for about 5 minutes.
- The dough should be tacky, but not overly sticky.
- Shape the dough into a large ball.
- Cut the dough ball into twelve equal pieces (as close to equal as you can!)
- Rub each of these smaller pieces with a little olive oil, then shape into smaller balls of dough.
- Place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest at room temperature for 30-60 mins. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 230C.
- After the dough is done resting, use a floured surface and flatten a dough ball with a rolling pin, and gently roll it out into a long, flat strip of dough. It should be thin. You can cut the dough into different shapes at this point, but I kept mine rustic.
- Place the strips of dough on a baking tray or sheet and gently puncture the surface with the tines of a fork. (To prevent puffing.)
- Bake in small batches, at 230 C for 8-10 minutes or until the crackers turn a deep golden hue.