Cathy’s Kitchen Prescription LLC
Peruvians like their breads sweet. While they adore French-style rolls (pan frances), they don’t have a tradition of savory corn cakes or tortillas, as elsewhere in Latin America, preferring sweeter wheat or corn cakes, bread, and puddings.
So, these crackers aren’t traditional Peruvian fare. Instead, they combine three of Peru’s beloved staples ~ quinoa, potato, and corn. Gluten-free, high in fiber, protein, healthy omega-3s, and flavor, these crispy, chewy crackers are great both with savory and sweet toppings.
Equipment: 2 to 3 large rimless baking sheets, a pizza wheel, a large baking stone, an angled icing spatula, 1 to 2 cooling racks
Prep time 30 minutes
Bake time: 20 to 30 minutes, depending on thickness
Makes about 60 to 80 crackers, roughly 2 by 4 inches
3 tablespoons date paste from ½ cup pitted dates, any variety
2 tablespoons freshly ground golden flaxseed
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
5 cups unsalted vegetable broth
1 cup coarse instant polenta, like Bob’s Red Mill
1 cup whole potato flour
2 tablespoons granulated onion
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seed
½ cup nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons aka (red) miso paste
Grinders of black pepper
Garnish with aniseed (a Peruvian preference), clove, or Ceylon cinnamon for a sweet finish, or lime powder and aji Panka chili powder (by grinding the whole chilies), or miso powder (from dehydrated miso paste) for a savory one.
Preheat the oven to 450°F (425°F convection) and insert a large baking stone on the middle oven shelf about 1 hour before you bake to heat thoroughly.
To make the date paste, cover the dates with water and microwave for 2 minutes. Cool. In a high-speed blender blend the softened dates and as much of its cooking water as needed to create a dense purée.
Grind the flaxseed in a simple coffee or spice grinder. Wipe it out with a paper towel and grind the aji Panka chilies to create flakes or longer to make a powder, if using. Wipe it out again and grind your cumin seeds into a powder.
Quinoa seeds are coated with saponins, a natural, bitter coating, so before cooking, rinse the qunoa well in a very fine strainer until the water runs clear. Heat 2 cups of broth in a saucepan and add the rinsed quinoa. Bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat to cook at a very gentle simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for another 10 to 15 minutes to full swell and absorb the liquid. Fluff with a fork.
To cook the polenta, heat 3 cups of broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Slowly sprinkle in the polenta, stirring constantly to avoid lumping. Cook on low for about 5 minutes or until the polenta is dense. Cover and remove from the heat. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Pulse the cooked polenta in a food processor to break it up into uniform crumbs.
In a large bowl combine the cooked quinoa, the polenta crumbs, date paste, flax powder, potato flour, onion and garlic granules, cumin powder, nutritional yeast, black pepper, mixing it well. Dot the surface with miso and use your hands to distribute it evenly throughout the mixture. Taste and correct seasonings as you like. The dough will be quite sticky.
To roll the dough, first line your first baking sheet with parchment paper. Mound ¼ to 1/3 of the dough towards on side of the paper, cover with waxed paper to help you see what you’re doing, and using a rolling pin, start rolling the dough to spread it uniformly over the parchment. Leave a 1-inch border on all sides clear. Feel with you hand as you go, and periodically peel off the paper, bending it back low over the dough to cleanly remove the top paper. Observe and add more dough, if needed, to fill the parchment with a thin, uniform layer, about 1/8 to 3/16-inch thick. The thinner the dough, the faster the crackers will bake and the crispier they will be. If you prefer a cracker with a chewy bite, go for 3/16-inch in thickness.
Repeat with a 2nd and perhaps 3rd baking sheet, as needed. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. If your oven does not bake evenly, you many need to swap the sheets around if you bake them simultaneously instead of sequentially.
Remove the sheet(s) after 10 minutes. Use the pizza wheel to cut the sheet of dough into crackers. Mine ranged from 1½ to 2 inches in width, and 3 to 4 inches in length, but feel free to shape them as you wish.
Return the sheet(s) to the oven for another 5 minutes. At this point, the dough should be firm on top, but still very soft on its underside. Remove from the oven and using an angled spatula, gently detach each cracker from the parchment paper. Place as many as will fit on the very hot baking stone and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. If you have one baking stone, you will need to do this phase in stages to accommodate all the crackers. The crackers are ready to remove from the oven when their top edges have browned, and the undersides are golden. They may be flexible at this stage but will firm up as they cool. Transfer them to 1 to 2 cooling racks. Decorate them as you like, sweet with aniseed, very lightly with clove or cinnamon powder, or savory with a pinch of lime powder, miso powder, and/or ground aji Panka chilies for some additional zing.
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