Sourdough Crackers

We’re snackers. Always have been. So when a dear friend shared a batch of her sourdough crackers, we were hooked. And since our appetites for carby treats are boundless, that meant making our own at home.

The dough, on its own, produces a delicious cracker. But adding herbs and spices gives you lots of room to experiment, customizing the taste of a batch of crackers to pair with whatever works. We’ve experimented with dried herbs d’provence (a favorite), cumin and smoked paprika. We’ve also played with the fats and flours in various batches, all delicious.

Feeding a starter means discarding some of the old to make room for fresh flour. It’s a lot of starter to discard over time. Using the “throw aways” to whip up crisp, crunchy batches of crackers makes so much sense when you consider the cost of a package of specialty crackers in our local grocery stores. More than that, there is no substitute for the delicate flavors of fresh-from-the-oven anything when the alternative is something that has been packaged, shipped and displayed for weeks or months.

We’ll be sharing more of our adventures in sourdough bread making. In the meantime, we’ll just park this here in hopes it inspires you to make your own sourdough crackers. The starter couldn’t be simpler. Simply mix flour and water, cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and walk away. Time and the natural yeasts in the air will do their magic. If you want to see where our starter “recipe” comes from, check out the kitchn‘s take on the sourdough starter. We took the cracker recipe from King Arthur Flour.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sourdough Crackers

[Adapted from King Arthur Flour]

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup rye flour
1/4 cup barley flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup unfed (“discarded”) sourdough starter
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (or other fat like olive oil or coconut oil)
2 tablespoons dried herbs of your choice, optional (we like herbs de provence)

Oil for brushing

Course salt (such as kosher or sea salt) for sprinkling on top


Mix together the flour, salt, sourdough starter, butter, and optional herbs to make a smooth(not sticky), cohesive dough.

Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a small rectangular slab. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to a couple of hours, until the dough is firm.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Very lightly flour a piece of parchment, your rolling pin, and the top of the dough.

Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough to about 1/16″ thick on the parchment, or basically as thin as possible. The dough will have ragged, uneven edges; that’s OK. Just try to make it as even as possible.

Transfer the dough and parchment together onto a baking sheet. Cut the dough into 1 1/4″ squares; a rolling pizza wheel and metal ruler works well here. Pull up the scrapes and wrap in plastic wrap to refrigerate for 20 minutes, then repeat the following steps above.

Prick each square with the tines of a fork.

Lightly brush with oil and then sprinkle the salt over the top of the crackers.

Bake the crackers for about 16-20 minutes, until the squares are starting to brown around the edges.

When fully browned, remove the crackers from the oven, and transfer them to a cooling rack. Store airtight at room temperature for up to a week; freeze for longer storage.

Yield: about 50-100 crackers

Venison Steak (& Eggs) Bercy –Entrecôte Bercy

[A little 1962 trivia: On January 21, 1962, snow fell in San Francisco and accumulated 3 inches!]

Steak Bercy

We were gifted a delightful little Chamberlain Calendar of French Cooking, dated 1962, and decided to cook all 54 of its recipes this year. If you’re unfamiliar with the mother/daughter duo of Narcisse and Narcissa Chamberlain, you’ve missed some of the finest food writing in a generation. They published a mountain of recipe books as well as calendars, diaries and annuals that covered a wide range of cookery including American, French and Italian. The recipes deserve our attention and we’ll be sharing them with you in the weeks and months to come. We’re a few recipes behind, but will soon be catching up in the following weeks. Think, Julie and Julia only a bit more simplistic and with a more realistic timetable.

The first recipe in the 1962 calendar made good use of a package of beautiful deer steaks and introduced us to an old (but new to us) classic – sauce Bercy. Now, sauce Bercy is a white wine sauce and one that might accompany either fish or steak. There are variations depending on the meat to be embellished, but the base recipe is essentially the same – a reduction of white wine flavored with shallot and finished with butter and fresh parsley. When serving sauce Bercy with fish, you add a little fish stock to the wine before reducing it. In the case of the Chamberlain ladies’ simplified version of sauce Bercy, the wine and shallots are reduced before you add lemon juice and butter off the heat. The sauce is strained and then finished with a seasoning of salt and pepper and a couple of tablespoons of fresh, finely chopped parsley. Spooned over simply grilled steak that has been cooked rare, this sauce combines with the natural juices of the meat to make one incredibly tasty dish.

Homemade potato chips

For dinner, we served the venison steak Bercy with a side of beautifully baked potato “chips” that we sliced paper-thin on a mandolin and then layered with fresh parsley leaves between them and a drizzle of olive oil. With just a sprinkle of salt, these simple yet elegant potatoes were the perfect accompaniment to the tangy Bercy sauce.

Preparing the poached eggs and sauce

We grilled more steaks than two guys should eat and with more than a half a bottle of white wine in the fridge leftover we decided to do a little experimenting by poaching eggs in white wine. For brunch the following day, using the same technique as our eggs poached in Champagne, we cooked the eggs first, removed them and added shallots to the remaining white wine then quickly reduced the liquid and followed the rest of the sauce Bercy recipe. The combination of rare deer steak with creamy egg yolks was a wonderful treat. Why can’t restaurants in San Francisco be more creative with their Eggs Benedict? We suggest that if you do try this wonderful sauce and steak you grill up a couple extra ones for brunch the next day. Steak and eggs has never tasted so good.

Steak and eggs

Steak Bercy
[Adapted from The Chamberlain Calendar of French Cooking, For Engagements, 1962]

1 big steak of your choice (enough for 2 people)
1 cup dry white wine
¼ cup shallots, finely minced
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely minced
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Grill the steak according to taste, which the Chamberlain’s hope is rare.

To prepare the sauce, simmer shallots and wine until the mixture is reduced to about 1/3 cup. Off heat, stir in butter and lemon juice. Strain the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Stir in parsley. Reheat but don’t let it come to a boil.

Once steak is cooked, place it on a hot platter and pour sauce Bercy over. Slice steak and plate, spooning the mixture of juices and sauce over the individual servings.