Monday, January 20, 2014

Olive Oil, Thyme & Sea Salt Crackers // All the Pretty Things (Week 22)

I'm not a fan of pretty things. Not in the traditional sense, at least. I like women with gaps between their front teeth, and cutting boards that look a little bit beat up. I prefer wild growth as opposed to a neatly trimmed hedge. When it comes to food, I'm no different. I tend to shy away from recipes that require precise, scalloped edges, instead leaning toward foods that are a tad more rustic, even if that means those foods don't always look picture perfect on my plate.

Funny then that one of the first things that bothered me about our storefront back when we first spotted it early last spring was that it didn't look, well, pretty upon first glance. The exterior paint was badly scratched. The blank space above the windows and door was stained from the previous tenant's large neon sign. It was obvious that the facade would be in need of some serious TLC.

Although we painted the facade and scrubbed the windows and steps quite a while back, the storefront was still lacking. Until recently. Finally, a few weeks back, our awning arrived. It seems like such a silly thing when compared with all the other "to-dos" going on around the shop. However, it's amazing what it has done for the overall look of the place. Somehow, the simple black awning makes everything about our storefront slightly more polished, professional and complete. And certainly much prettier overall.

These rustic olive oil, thyme and sea salt crackers are far from pretty in the traditional sense; rather, their beauty comes from their imperfect shapes. While crackers seem like the type of thing to purchase from a store, they are a breeze to make at home: simply mix by hand some whole wheat flour, fresh thyme, and a few other basic ingredients you're likely to have on hand. Once the dough is formed, roll it out into thin sheets. After baking, allow the dough to cool down and then break it apart by hand into rough, jagged pieces that are just pretty enough to eat (no fancy tools required).

Olive Oil, Thyme & Sea Salt Crackers
from New York Times magazine

- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for garnishing
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3-4 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the water, eggs, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 2-3 tablespoons of thyme to the mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, combine all the ingredients until the dough is formed (you can add a bit more water or oil if needed).

Divide the dough in half. On a countertop lightly dusted with flour, roll out one half of the dough to about 1/8-inch and place on one of the baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.

Bake for about 25 minutes. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and brush the warm crackers with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle them with the remaining thyme and sea salt. Once cooled, break the sheets of crackers apart by hand.