Make a night of it

When your taxes are due in a mere nine days, it is astounding how many projects you can get done. I believe if you continue with the projects indefinitely this strategy is referred to as tax evasion, but in the short term, it can be awfully productive.

In a mere 48 hours this weekend I managed to clean the house, repaint a deck table, weed the garden, write an essay, drink a bottle of wine, sew an oven mitt, take several very long walks and two tubs, bake a chocolate cake, eat most of said chocolate cake, watch Twilight on DVD, craft and mail two gifts (the contents and recipients of which must be Top Secret, you understand), and eat almost a pint of homemade garlic and herb dip.

It all came crashing to an end yesterday afternoon when my father called and informed me with only a hint of gloom that it was time to meet my new friend Turbo Tax.

Luckily, I still had a few crackers hanging around, and enough garlic dip to get me through the crisis. (Please don't repeat this, but once I made a pot of tea and brought up the last of the chocolate cake, the crackers, and the dip, Turbo Tax and I actually were kind of having fun. My checkbook didn't seem particularly amused, but by the end of the evening, between the sense of accomplishment and the munching, T.T. and I were like old friends. Shhh.)

That said, I think we'll stay friends better if we're the long distance type, the kind you only see, say, once a year or so. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, you know. But not in the case of homemade crackers and dip. Even after a triple batch of crackers and an entire pint of dip, I feel that these two and I could make a night of it again. Soon.

So I'd like to introduce you all to both. The crackers are whole wheat and come from a friend of mine in Maine, a Mr. Bill Huntington. He unveiled them at a Christmas party a few years ago, and they were an instant hit. The garlic dip has a somewhat less intimate story; I found it in the Williams Sonoma catalog. (Have you noticed how many recipes they have in there?) Happily, it's just as good.

Both are also incredibly simple to make. So if you have things to do this week, like, say, avoid tax evasion, there should still be room for these two. They're good companions, I promise. At least when you've got a date with Turbo Tax.


adapted from a recent Williams Sonoma catalog

If you've never roasted garlic, it's quite easy. Cut the tops off the garlic so that the cloves are exposed, wrap the heads in tinfoil, and stick them in the oven the next time you've got the oven going (350 degrees F is a good general rule, but it's okay for the temperature to vary a bit if you're baking something else). Leave them to cook for about a half hour, then pull them out and you're good to go. The pulp also makes a very good spread for toast.

It's a good idea to make this dip ahead of time, because a night in the fridge gives the flavors a chance to leak into the sour cream and mayo, which makes for a much tastier, complex dip.

4 heads garlic, roasted
1 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
a dash of A1 or Worcestershire sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Squeeze the pulp from the garlic heads. Mash it up with a fork, them combine with remaining ingredients with a whisk in a medium-size mixing bowl. Adjust vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve chilled with crackers (below).


The key to these crackers is to roll them out very, very thin. Otherwise, they won't get crisp. Also, I like to make a double or triple batch, because they tend to go fast.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 warm water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
coarse salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (except coarse salt). Add in 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, the warm water, and the cider vinegar, and mix thoroughly. Knead this mixture for 1 or 2 minutes, or until it forms a stiff dough.

Shape the dough into a 12-inch cylinder, and using a sharp knife, slice it into 16 pieces. For each piece, sprinkled a bit of coarse salt on your work surface and place the dough cut side down on top. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is almost as thin as you'd like, then flip the dough and repeat until it is wafer thin. (The salt will not only add flavor but should also keep the dough from sticking to your counter top. You can also use seeds, nuts, oats, or even cornmeal instead.) Place the dough onto a cookie sheet and brush its top with some of remaining melted butter.

Repeat for all 16 crackers, and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden and crisp.


Anonymous said...

Listen to Em, next year just pay someone to do your taxes.

Elspeth said...

Ethan, I know who you are, and I can't just abandon my new friend.


ethan said...

make new ones


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.