Mustard Cheddar Cheese Crackers

Mustard Cheddar CrackersOne of Sheila’s “go-to” recipes for an appetizer is Mustard Cheese Crackers. It is relatively easy to make, easy to transport and everybody seems to love them.  Can’t get much better than that.  This recipe was first published in 1998 by Gourmet and now may be found on Epicurious if you prefer to do your own research.  Please note that Sheila adds a couple of minutes to get a “crisp” golden brown cracker.

If you are stuck for a creative appetizer, this is a sure winner:

Mustard Cheddar Crackers

Ingredients (Makes 10 to 12 dozen)

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 lb sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated (preferably in a food processor; 5 cups
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbs dry mustard
  • 1/4 cup brown or yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tsps of salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
  • Special equipment:  parchment paper

Preparation

  1. Blend together butter, cheese and yolk in a food processor until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and pulse until just combined.  (You may have to do in two batches with a small processor).  Transfer dough (it will be very soft) to a bowl and chill, covered for 15 minutes.
  2. Halve dough, then shape each half into a 12-inch log on a lightly floured surface.  Wrap logs in wax paper and foil, then chill until firm, at least 4 hours.
  3. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350ºF.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Unwrap logs and cut into 1/8 inch-thick slices with a sharp thin knife, then arrange slices about 1 inch apart on baking sheets.  Bake in batches, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until pale golden, 12 to 15 minutes.  (Sheila recommends cooking 1-2 minutes longer to get golden brown).  Line sheets with clean parchment between batches.

Enjoy.

Mustard Roasted Fish from the Barefoot Contessa

Ina Garten Mustard-Roasted FishLike most people, I prefer fresh fish to be cooked as simply as possible: quickly grilled with a dollop of olive oil and salt and pepper. Covering up the subtle taste of fish in a thick sauce is no way to respect our finned friend. Unless you are a fisherman or are dating a fish monger, it is unlikely that you will be fortunate enough to find a “fresh” fish to grill. Furthermore, the lingering smell of cooked fish in an apartment complex is roughly equivalent to mildewed workout clothes in a gym bag.

When our mercury levels are low, we will occasionally opt for seared tuna or swordfish, but – for the most part – we prefer to eat grilled or raw fish at a restaurant, preferably Japanese. As reported earlier, buying fish from a supermarket is courting hepatitis or worse and should be avoided. As such, I was not particularly thrilled to learn that Mamacita had bought some Branzino that was on sale at Whole Foods supermarket. (Editor’s Note: There is a reason why the stock price of Whole Foods is down over 30% this year).

Rather than subject me to the painful task of carbon-dating the age of the “fresh” fish, Mamacita had the good sense to bake the fish in a lovely mustard sauce. The recipe is from Ina Garten’s cookbook, Back to Basics.

Barefoot Contessa’s Mustard-Roasted Fish

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 (8-ounce) fish fillets such as red snapper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 ounces crème fraiche
  • 3 Tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbs whole-grain mustard
  • 2 Tbs minced shallots
  • 2 tsp drained capers

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 425º
  2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (ovenproof baking dish is OK).  Place the fillets skin down on the sheet pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  3. Combine the crème fraiche, the two mustards, shallots, capers, 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in a small bowl.  Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure that the fillets are entirely covered.
  4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes defending on thickness, until the fish is barely done.
  5. Serve at room temperature with sauce from the pan over the top.

Frankly, I enjoyed it.