This year's Valentines Day passed by in a bit of a blur. Mr NQN was sick, I was busy working and it wasn't until the day before that we realised in alarm that neither of us had organised anything. My thinking was that it's usually time for the guy to organise something while Mr NQN's thinking was that I usually organise everything so why wouldn't Valentines Day be any different? Neither of us were upset, we knew that we could redo it but wanted to do something nice that evening.
The evening on the 14th I went to pick him up from work. It was a busy day on news sites (he works for one) and so he finished late, around 8pm. During the day, I had hastily cobbled together a decent-ish dinner after a hasty visit to the shops and some fast baking and I told him that we had dinner ready. But he needed to bring something too apart from his adorable self so I asked him to pop to the shops and get me something, anything really. Knowing that nothing was really open near where he works, I thought that I might get a single plastic rose or a chocolate bar. And I was really hoping for the chocolate bar.
He was a little sheepish when he took out his gifts for me but I was really quite delighted. First out came a Crunchie bar, then a Wagon Wheel, Cherry Ripe and Kinder Surprise.I was excited because apart from the Cherry Ripe, I hadn't eaten any of the other bars in years. They ranged from awful (Wagon Wheel, what happened to it?) to just as I remembered (Crunchie).
My home made contribution to Valentines Day evening was a home made pate and crackers served with cheese (not home made). These crackers to be exact. They're Raincoast Crisps, a seedy, nutty cracker that has something of a cult like following. They have several flavours to choose from but in this month's Daring Bakers challenge we were just trying one.
I've made quite a few crackers but everyone's reviews and response to the taste of this convinced me that this recipe was worth trying. It's also interesting that it's a baked quick bread, sliced thinly and then baked again to get that crispy, lacy thin crunch. They're very straightforward to do and pair well with most things (although because there are so many flavours in it, it's very far from a plain cracker). I did like the crunchy nutty and seediness although I would be interested in making a version without the fruit-with cheese the fruit worked beautifully but with the pate, it added a bit too much. This makes a lot of crackers too and unless you are feeding a lot of mouths, I'd suggest halving the recipe.
So tell me Dear Reader, who does the planning for Valentines Day in your relationship? And how did you end up celebrating Valentines Day?
Blog checking lines: Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie was our February 2013 Daring Bakers host and she challenges us to use our creativity in making our own Crisp Flatbreads and Crackers!
From Dinner with Julie
Servings: About 8 dozen
2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm) (10 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (1/3 oz) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) salt
2 cups (480 ml) buttermilk
1/4 cup (60 ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup (60 ml) honey
1 cup (240 ml) (180 gm) (6½ oz) raisins or dried cranberries (I used the latter)
1/2 cup (120 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) chopped pecans
1/2 cup (120 ml) (125 gm) (4½ oz) roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
1/4 cup (60 ml) (30 gm) (1 oz) sesame seeds
1/4 cup (60 ml) (30 gm) (1 oz) flax seed, ground
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (2 gm) finely chopped fresh rosemary
Step 1 - Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk, brown sugar and honey and stir a few strokes. Add the raisins or cranberries, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed and rosemary and stir just until blended.
Step 2 - Pour the batter into two 8x4 (20cmx10cm) loaf pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack.
Step 3 - The cooler the bread, the easier it is to slice really thin. You can leave it until the next day or pop it in the freezer. Slice the loaves as thin as you can and place the slices in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. Slice so thin that they are almost lacy.
Step 4 - Reduce the oven heat to slow 300°F/150°C/gas mark 2 and bake them for about 15 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes, until crisp and deep golden. You can also cut in half before the second baking. This is the way I like them. The size works better. Be careful not to burn.
Storage and Freezing Instructions/Tips: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month. Prolong the freshness by freezing for up to 3 months.