most summers, i make a trip to orcas island - a large(ish) island in the san juans, full of charm and beautiful sights. for years, i was able to stay at a friends cabin on the island and now i go up to camp or for the occasional yoga retreat at doe bay. someday maybe i'll even make it up for the exclusive doe bay music festival. cross-my-fingers. anyhow, if you ever go to orcas there are a few things i must suggest you do. hike, swim, kayak, yes of course, but there are a couple foodie spots in the quaint little town of eastsound that i frequent practically every day while on the island: kathryn taylor chocolates for delectable truffles and drinking chocolates and rose's bakery. this is my favorite bakery in all of the northwest. the garlic-parsley-walnut bread blows my mind. they also have an amazing selection of wine and cheese to drool over and an adjoined cafe well worth trying out for breakfast or lunch. but my favorite item is their fruit and nut crackers. slightly sweet, slightly savory, crisp biscuit with chewy fruit. we ate them early in the mornings on the deck looking out at puget sound. we ate them mid day while picnic-ing at the lake. we ate them late at night next to a fire as we star gazed. to me, they represent everything wonderful about the island and summers in the northwest. but it's been a while since i've been back to the island, so i thought i'd try my best to recreate these amazing fruit and nut crackers. while they turned out delicious, i can't claim to have perfectly replicated rose's recipe... you'll just have to go to orcas and decide for yourself. shucks!
fruit and nut crackers:
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 cup rye flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup dried currants
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
beat together butter and eggs. slowly mix in dry ingredients until a soft dough forms. add in dried fruit, nuts and parsley. the texture should be similar to shortbread dough. like shortbread, it is easiest to let the dough chill in the fridge for about an hour until firm. using lots of extra flour, roll the firm dough on a large surface... about 1/3 inch thick. score the rolled dough (whatever shape you ended up with!) into cracker size pieces and bake on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. at this point, the edges should be slightly brown. then remove from oven, and let cool until you can handle the cracker. then use a knife to fully cut each cracker to shape. give each new cracker a little bit of breathing room on the baking sheet and and bake for another 15+ minutes until all the edges are nicely brown and crackers are firm. remove from oven and let cool completely - possibly even letting them sit out overnight to stale and harden up more.
the dried fruit in the crackers gets chewy, the nuts get perfectly toasted, and the rye flour adds an amazing nutty flavor to this sweet and savory cracker. for the perfect flavor combo, top your crackers with a dab of a buttery cheese like triple creme or a smear of butter. or a little more fancy, top with a smooth blue cheese and a bit of apricot preserves.