Thursday, February 28, 2013
Whale-Shaped Crackers with Cheddar and Nori, an Ode to the Whale
In terms of cetacean appreciation, dolphins get the glory. They are so cute and friendly and sleek. Jumping out of the water to show off their spins and spyhops. Equipped with a fancy echolocation system to navigate. And can even come in the color pink, a fact that Max is super in love with. Okay okay, dolphins are really awesome. And yes, I'm pretty taken with the pink dolphins as well.
But whales are awesome too. This weekend is the start of the Festival of Whales here in Dana Point, marking the migration of the gray whale (though blue whales have strangely been spotted recently as well). We are totally obsessed with both whales and the festival. Like, lets cut whale shapes out of construction paper and string them together to make banners to hang up kind of obsessed. Like, lets turn our food into whale-shapes obsessed. Like, watching Blue Planet over and over and over again obsessed. I've even done some research into the gray whale's diet, pondering ways to incorporate it into whale-party food. I'm such a dork.
All lumpy and big and grungy, they might not be as chic and beautiful as their dolphin relatives, but they are just as lovable. From the narwhal, an animal about which I'm half-convinced doesn't actually exist but is just a figment of someone's imagination...to the humpbacks with their renowned singing and their own version of pop music...and to the blue whales, being the biggest living thing EVER - the whale, in all its diversity, is due for some love. So this is our ode. Our ode to the whale (see previously, ode to ground beef).
Last year, we made these. In celebration of our devotion to this cetacean and our town's festival. This year we made crackers - a sonnet expressing our love, but in an edible form. Whole wheat, buttery, sesame seed filled crackers topped with cheese and a sprinkling of nori goma furikake. Seth introduced this combination of cracker, cheddar, and the nori, and we have been hooked ever since. The cheese can also be seen as an homage to our pure and utter cheesiness. I wasn't kidding about being a dork.
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup roasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 - 2 cups ice water
whale shaped cookie cutter
good quality cheddar, sliced
nori goma furikake
In a mixing bowl, whisk flour, sesame, baking powder, salt, and peppers. Rub the butter into the flour using your hands or pastry cutter, until the mixture looks like coarse sand. In the bowl of a stand mixer, very gradually, and on low speed, add the cold water, stopping once a dough forms. You want the mixture to hold together and to no longer be dry. Take half the mixture and put in fridge. Roll out the other half on a silpat or parchment until about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Use the cookie cutter to make whale shapes. Sprinkle with just a bit of fleur de sel and place in 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden and crisp. Repeat with the rest of the dough. To serve, top with a slice of cheddar and a sprinkle of nori.