No kitchen should be without the heady, aromatic flavour of thyme, A delicate looking herb with a penetrating fragrance,whether used by the pinch or by the bunch, fresh thyme infuses any dish with unparalleled aroma and flavour.
Thyme is usually cooked with food rather than thrown in at the end.When cooked in stews and casseroles the leaves fall away from the branches infusing the stock and then the branches are removed at the end of cooking. I use both the fresh and dried varieties in marinades,dressings and even to infuse syrup for puddings.
Thyme has what I could only describe as a vigorous flavour,almost peppery in character,and therefore is for foods that can carry strong flavours.It is one of the essential ingredients of Herbes de provence along with rosemary, bay and savory and is also always included in bouquet garni for stock and soup making.
Thyme is best cultivated in a hot, sunny location with well-drained soil. It is generally planted in the spring, and thereafter grows as a perennial. It tolerates drought well.The Casa Rosada garden is dotted with different varieties of thyme and so with a bit of thyme management the kitchen here is never without both fresh and dried. The fresh form is more flavourful, but also less convenient.Thyme waits for no one,its storage life is less than a week.
So bearing that in mind who would have thought that I would see the day I made my own homemade crackers.Inspired by Ottolenghi and finding another use for a windfall sack of dried thyme that recently came my way,there was no thyme like a present so I catapulted his basic recipe into something a little more aromatic. His recipe was for olive oil crackers, but the first batch I made were very bland so I upped the game with thyme and Flor de sal mediterranica, a Flor de sal with olives and chilli.What a difference some seasoning makes,now we were talking crackers.There is only one problem,they are so delicate that they can break,but this is half the fun of it as you spread lashings of soft cheese on them.they are rustic, elegant and very unusual.They are so damn easy to make and I swear once you´ve tried them you will never need to buy crackers ever again.Serve them straight from the oven, as crisp as crisp can be.
Whipped goats cheese and crisp radishes on the side is a perfect partner
Flor de sal, thyme and olive oil crackers
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
25ml olive oil,plus extra for brushing
1/2 tsp Flor de sal
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp smoked picante paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
Generous sprinklings of Flor de sal mediterranica
In a large bowl,mix together all the ingredients except the flor de sal to form a soft dough.You can do this by hand or in a processor fitted with a dough hook Work the dough until you get a firm consistency,then cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 220c/gas mark 7.Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface or board.Have a bowl of flour ready at your side for dusting.Use a large sharp knife to cut off wanut sized pieces (roughly 15g each) from the dough. Roll out each piece as thinly as possible with arolling pin,dusting with plenty of flour as you go.They should end up looking like long oval tongues,almost paper thin.
Place the crackers on a tray lined with baking parchment.Brush them with plenty of olive oil and sprinkle generously with Flor de sal. Bake for about 6 minutes,until crisp and golden.
Adapted from Ottolenghi ("Ottolenghi the cookbook")