This should be the season of backyard entertaining, with some tasty snacks, fine friends, and a tipple or two. But with the pandemic continuing to keep us on lockdown, plans of grand gatherings are put on hold. This doesn’t mean the snacking has to stop. Quite the contrary!

Whether you’re feeding a family of four, or it’s just you and your cat, nothing beats a good charcuterie board. It’s so simple to prepare, there’s no real cooking involved, and it looks rather pretty especially when garnished with seasonal fruit.

Crackers go hand in hand with meat and cheese, and while in the deli section you’ve likely noticed how pricey those fancy artisan fruit and nut crackers are. They’re almost as much as a hunk of good cheese!

To save some bucks and learn a new kitchen skill, might I suggest making your own fancy crackers? It’s super simple, plus you know what you’re putting into the recipe, and you can customize the flavours as you like based on what’s in the pantry.

For this recipe I mixed some barley flour into regular all-purpose. I like the taste of barley flour in baking, plus there’s extra nutrients and fibre. You can use whole wheat or spelt as well. Next up is the dried fruit. I used the dried cranberries that were hanging out in my pantry, but dried cherries, chopped apricots, figs, even raisins would be a good choice.

Nuts can be whatever you have on hand. I usually keep them in the freezer, and lo and behold, I found a bag of walnuts near the back! Pecans, almonds, hazelnuts would all be excellent. I like a little seed action in my crackers so I used sesame, pumpkin and ground flax. If I had poppyseeds in the house, they would have been in there too! I added a little bit of this and that from the spice cabinet, but feel free to switch these up as you like. Buttermilk is the star of the show here, as it helps to create little air bubbles when combined with the baking soda.

A simple loaf is made, baked, frozen and then sliced into thin crackers, which are then baked again. These are like the biscotti of the cracker world! It’s hard not to pluck the crackers off the baking sheet while they are cooling, but try and save some for that charcuterie tray. Each loaf makes about 2 dozen crackers, but if your house is like my house, they won’t last long!

Cinnamon Apple, Brie, and Walnut Pies

Makes 4 Pies

Ingredients

8 slices cinnamon swirl bread

¼ cup (60 mL) soft margarine

1 can apple pie filling

Brie cheese

4 Tbs walnuts, whole or pieces

Preparation

  1. Lightly spread margarine on each slice of bread. Place a slice in one half of the pie iron, margarine side down.
  2. Scoop 2-3 tablespoons of pie filling on to the bread. Top with two slices of Brie and one tablespoon of walnuts.
  3. Place the second slice of bread over the filling (margarine side up) and close the pie iron. Trim any excess bread crust off with your fingers otherwise it may burn while cooking.
  4. Cook pies over the campfire for 2-3 minutes per side. Carefully open pie iron and tip pie onto plate.
  5. Repeat for the other remaining pies. Let cool.
https://culinairemagazine.ca/going-crackers/

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