diy saltines à la Chef Chuck

wpid-diy-saltines.jpg.jpegOne of the cost-saving decisions my family made a few years back was to cut the cable cord. We supplement basic channels with streaming and it seems to be enough. I don’t feel I miss much sans the umpteen-zillion channels we used to have. Except. I miss The Cooking Channel. I adored and followed so many shows and it was there that I first met Chuck Hughes.

Chef-Chuck-Hughes

image: The Cooking Channel

It was love at first sight with Chef Hughes. My being married, his (gorgeous) girlfriend, and never having met him didn’t deter me in the least. I fell madly and deeply. This charming tattooed French-Canadian sweetheart of a restaurateur and chef (whew!) first starred in Chuck’s Day Off, following it up with Chuck’s Week Off and Chuck’s Eat the Street. He was always fun, kind, generous, humorous, and truly creative in his kitchen. He showed me how to make DIY ice cream cones. And Chocolate Stout Cakes. And Tequila Lemonade.

Chuck and I have since parted ways, though I remember his shows fondly.  And when I realized we were out of saltine crackers–an essential for the (canned!) chicken noodle soup my youngest seems to live on–I remembered him having a recipe for DIY soda crackers. It was an easy enough dough to throw together, though the recommended 18-hour rise time meant I couldn’t bake them properly in time for that night’s supper. Instead, I baked up just one tray and let the remaining dough continue rising.wpid-saltine-dough.jpg.jpeg

That first night’s batch overbrowned–my generous way of saying I burnt those crackers. What surprised me, though, was that every single (burnt) cracker was gobbled up. Containing only flour, salt, baking soda, water, and a brush of butter, the crackers had a simple and basic flavor, nearly identical to that of storebought saltines. Excited to see how they turned out when baked for the recommended amount of time, I rolled out the chilled dough the next night.

True to course, my crackers were a bit rustic in their appearance, none being the same shape or size. This gave them different doneness levels in the 12-minute bake time. (I found the 15 to 20 minutes recommended to be too long.) Some were crunchy and browned, some pillowy and much lighter in color.wpid-diy-soda-crackers.jpg.jpeg

But again, the crackers were devoured and I’m thrilled to have found another processed food that I can now bring in-house. Eternal gratitude to Chuck Hughes, my first TV chef crush.

46 thoughts on “diy saltines à la Chef Chuck

    • that’s awesome, Liz. To the best of my knowledge, Chuck does not magically appear (In real life) when you make his recipes. But oh how I wish we still had that Cooking Channel as that at least virtually brought him into my world. He seems like such a great guy–personable, does good things for the community and troubled kids, and just has a fun perspective in the kitchen. He’s come back from a bunch of his own issues and I love those stories. And yes, the fact that he’s impishly gorgeous doesn’t hurt either!

  1. The homemade crackers look deLizious, my friend. 🙂

    Life is good when your fam gobbles up your saltines. I like the randomness of the shape and color. The alt-ness of crunch and texture comes from differing thickness of dough roll out, no? (I am learning from reading Food for Fun, me thinks. And from watching the Food Channel. And my dear wife Karen’s ability to keep me in three squares.)

    Hey, Liz, your youngest and I like the same chicken soup! Go figure. Actually, though, to be thrifty, I have switched to the Wegmans house brand, which is 30 cents a can cheaper but very similar in every other way. They also rock out the vegetarian vegetable variety. I find these two handy for weekly lunch with a bologna/tuna/turkey/crunchy PB & NSA J sandwich.

    How in the world can you go sans Food Channel? That would wipe out too many of the fun and mostly friendly competition shows I’ve become friends with over the last few years. I want to be a judge.

    • wow, you know how to comment, Mark! My baked goods are all about random. Martha Stewart I am not. (In fact, Kerbey and I are the charter members of the We Are Not Martha Stewart Club 😉 ) Yep, you’re right on about the different baking levels being due to not cutting them the exact same size. Karen has taught you well. I do want to make a better batch eventually, but couldn’t bring myself to care after having my car battery die (at Trader Joe’s of all places! At least I could lift my spirits with sushi and dark chocolate) after an 8-hour day at a client’s offices. All’s well, but I just needed to get those crackers in the oven and I wasn’t going to putz.

      So you like the Princess and Frozen soups, then? haha. I found a buy 5 for the price of 4 deal at Target (my stop before Trader Joe’s) last night, so she’s in business for a short while. Makes me nuts that she prefers cheapo canned to from-scratch, but I remember pulling the same thing on my mom. Your sandwich options sound delish.

      Y’know, I never liked the Food Channel. Am talking about the Cooking Channel which was more about personality-driven cooking or general food shows. Am one of the maybe three or so people in America who do not enjoy reality/competition shows. Too much pressure, haha. You would make an excellent judge. For sure your perspective would be unique!

      • Sorry to hear about the car battery going belly up, Liz. I hope there was a nearby place to get a replacement, pronto, hands dirty, No Martha Stewart Style. Yes, at least you had Trader Joe’s and a good day in at your client’s to keep you in a better mood.

        I manly enough to withstand being called Princess for my canned soup choice. But do not call me Frozen! I am too hot-blooded for that one. 🙂

        Sorry for mixing up the Cooking Channel for The Food Network. Very different missions there, for sure, and I can judge that easily. I watch these judges on these food comp shows and I really think I could be entertaining with my regular guy opinions. Oh, well.

        • I bet MS could totally change her own car battery! Alas, I was rescued by Larry, God bless him. He brought the girls and a set of jumper cables to TJ’s, fixed me up, and dashed off with Anna just in time for her science fair. He’s a bit of a domestic farmboy superhero, that one, and I don’t appreciate him as I should. ‘Cause he totally saved me.

          Here’s what I’m talking about re: soup. Wasn’t judging, Mark, honest. http://www.campbellsoup.com/Products/Condensed/Healthy-Kids/120825

          • And I was just joshing about the judging, honest, my literal friend. 🙂

            I’m glad Larry was there in the time of need. Good man! Domestic farmboy superhero would look damn good on his resume should he need that someday! 🙂

    • Lol, that’s perfect, Kerry. Do you also like extra salt on the big, soft pretzels? I do! I also like salt-coated bagels. You could also brush them with twice the butter, which sounds good to me 🙂 Thanks for coming by!

  2. These look so good! I’m sorry to hear you guys have parted ways, but I’m sure he was really fun and sexy while he lasted, especially with that slightly francophone lilt in his voice. I’m with you, I think giant crushes are totally permissible! Especially food related ones…hello Gabrielli from Extra Virgin.

    • Yes! Oh my gosh, that’s another show I miss. Reminded me of a foodie Green Acres. And while I’m no movie star, I AM a city girl married to a farm boy, so I felt I could relate.

  3. It would never have occurred to me to make my own crackers, cracker. Is that more cost-efficient? I see them and want to pile heaps of cheese on them. I’ve never had the Cooking Channel nor heard hide or hair of it. Wow, that is alliteration. All we have is Food Channel, which I watch a couple of hours daily–as Mark said, for cooking competitions. It saddens me that you are not on those shows, whipping overbrowned crackers up and putting overconfident chefs in their places. But as you say, you must sacrifice the one for the other. I must admit Chef Hughes is easy on the eyes, even with that unnecessary ink.

    • Oh, how you are on to something here. We must coax, chide, cajole, our Liz onto Guy Fieri’s run around the market with the cart and then cook show. She’d knock them out and win $20,000. Hear that, Liz. $20,000. Cha-ching. Kids. College fund. Competition shows. Larry?!

      • I do love me some Guy’s Grocery Games. Triple G. Love to see them running, spur of the moment, trying to find five items that start with B. We need to have an intervention with Larry.

        • Yes, that’s it, Triple G is the name. Much better for Liz that Cutthroat Kitchen that follows, wouldn’t you say, Kerbey? Too much contrived shenanigans in that one, though I do enjoy host Alton Brown’s faux wicked ways. Yes, count me in on the intervention.

          • I think Alton truly is a sadist; he delights in sabotage. My husband likes it, but I always feel like it’s cruel. I also think Alton believes he could do a better job each time.

          • I also believe Alton could do a better job every time. See. His swagger works in me. … And I blather on about this silly TV show, of which I watch with my dear wife Karen and your husband has his opinion on. Kerbey, what is wrong with us?

          • Alton Brown is another one of my imaginary chef boyfriends!!! I love this man, too, as he’s brilliant and wickedly funny in a horribly dry way. Have mostly watched Good Eats, which was very food sciencey and he cracked me up. Sure, I’d give his supermarket chasing show a watch. But alas, no cable or dish. Will google when I have more time.

            If you think I could win any sort of food competition, you are mistaken. But I’m good with fun, so let me know what you line up. You two are offering to be my managers, then? I could do worse.

    • yes much cheaper to buy crackers and the best part is knowing exactly what’s in there–flour, salt, water, baking soda, butter. Nothing else!

      Chuck does like his tattos and it’s mostly about food. One of them is a lobster. ?? You would like this picture better. http://www.montrealites.ca/montreal_local_food_market_guide/2014/04/chuck-hughes-on-living-in-mexico-becoming-a-new-dad-and-how-hes-ready-to-be-a-mentor.html#.VGPKacnTp8s

      Oh my gosh, he’s a dad. Now it’s really over…

        • no on the oysters. My first and last oyster was my junior prom. Hate to not be cultured, enjoying the finer things, etc, but it just didn’t click with me.

          Trusting you saw the above comment about you and Mark serving as my managers. He has already named your agency. Will start on the contracts soon.

          • Oh, I had not seen that! Kerbey Mark, huh? Well, that’s fine. I’m not greedy, so 51% is fine. Guy has the grocery games, Alton has the sadistic Cutthroat Kitchen show wherein he brings out a pita pocket and makes the chef use it to mix in, instead of a mixing bowl. And then he cackles with delight. One thing about Alton, he appears unable to get fat.

  4. These look great! And I can actually see the different doneness levels being a good thing (for example, I like that attribute in a plate of fries). I had never heard of Chuck, but I will keep my eye out for him! Hopefully not crying in a corner over your breakup…

    • hey, good point about the fries, hot dish. So yeah, I did the different texture thing on purpose then 😉 Yes, look Chuck up. He’s devilishly handsome. And no tears–it was I that broke it off. Largely because he never knew we were an item. Small matter, yes?

  5. Sorry to hear about the car battery. I hope you were left out in the cold!

    The crackers look lovely and fun. It makes me want to try them right away, but could I wait for that rise time? Ponderous. . .

    • I was left in Trader Joe’s parking lot, Fannie, which meant I could zip into TJ’s and stay cozy. Much worse places to kill your battery. The rise time is listed at 1-18 hours (though I always figure the upper end offers the most flavor), so you’d be fine with 1. Would you try it with gluten-free flour? Let me know how they turn out. Yours would look much better!

      • Glad to hear you could “hang-out” with the crew at Trader Joe’s. 🙂

        I’ll give it a try with rice flour and see how it turns out. I bet it would be great with a variety of things besides canned soup. . .I’ll let you know how it goes.

  6. Oh how I enjoy homemade crackers. Unfortunately I can’t make enough to keep up with demand in our house! I haven’t tried to make saltines yet, these look great. As for parting with Food TV or Cooking Channel we would never survive. The kids love all the cooking shows too, not just me.

    • These would be easy-peasy to whip up, Gretchen. We don’t tend to watch TV at all, though I watch binge watch series and movies late at night. Funny how the television experience is so different than what it once was. The kids watch on kindles and I’ll watch on my laptop. Glad you’re educating your boys right!

  7. ooh, i can see your attraction to this tatted and talented chef and you have a history with him…. i love the crackers idea and they look delicious, you are a true food adventurer, liz. i am excited if i even remember to have crackers in my cupboard.)

  8. Oh I love Chuck! His adorable! Okay don’t get jealous now Liz 😉 Just kidding! I remember my first TV Chef crush was Curtis Stone from Take Home Chef. I would hope he was hanging out at the whole foods near my house in Jersey so he could sweep me off my feet! Lol! I have to say I’ve never tried making crackers before but these looks so fun to make. Love reading your posts!

    • Easy to make, Amy. You won’t have to buy anymore 🙂 Thanks for coming over and sharing your crush on Chuck. He’s just so sweet looking with just a teeny-tiny touch of bad boy!

  9. Yum – to both the crackers and to Chuck! 😉 Never seen that show before (my husband and I go on and off cable and I tend to watch most things via Hulu or Netflix) but now I wish I had. I’m also a sucker for the French-Canadian combo.

    • You can still find Chuck–he keeps coming out with new stuff. Also a cookbook I think for his restaurant. ?? My crackers would go well with your soup 🙂

  10. Liz, just had another good read of your blog…..my mouth is watering looking at all these food delights. I’m currently sitting in hotel room in Sydney on business and just wish all your recipes were listed in the room service dining menu….alas no, I will just need to visualize them instead! Cheers, Steve

    • thanks, Steven! Long time no see 🙂 Hope all goes well enough on your end. Still sitting in hotel rooms, then? Room service has it’s charms for sure. And virtual food has the charm of being calorie-free. Appreciate your kind words.

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