Thursday, November 20, 2008
Make Your Own Crackers
Does it seem strange that a vegetarian loves Ina Garten? She of the Barefoot Contessa and all things abundant and meaty? There is something about her style, the simplicity of the recipes that somehow yield incredibly full flavors, the generosity of her table. I find her irristable. I have four of her cookbooks, including her newest one, and I use them surprisingly frequently. Her roasted tomato soup is a favorite of my clients and the Outrageous Brownies are the best around.
Here may be another favorite. I love making crackers because they are somewhat unexpected. We here in the States are used to having almost an entire supermarket aisle of choices when it comes to crackers. Some of them are quite good but most are basically cardboard with salt. Even the good ones are really just a vehicle for cheese. But not these. These delicious and incredibly easy crackers are stars in their own right. I made them to go along with a hearty soup and a Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette (from the same Ina cookbook).
The beauty of this kind of cracker is that the dough can be made well in advance and either refrigerated (for up to 4 days!) or frozen for a month at least. As I was making these yesterday, I kicked myself for not doubling or even tripling the recipe so I could have crackers at my fingertips thoughout the holidays.
Parmesan and Thyme Crackers
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
Makes about 24 crackers
I made these crackers into squares instead of circles. Do yourself a favor and buy the pre-ground (not grated!) Parmesan cheese.
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
1 tsp. minced thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cup flour
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, add the Parmesan, thyme, salt, and pepper and combine. With the mixer still on low, add the flour and combine untl the mixture is in large crumbles, about 1 minute. If the dough is too dry, add 1 tsp. water.
Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 9 inch log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 days.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the log into 3/8 inch rounds with a small, sharp knife and place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22 minutes, until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during baking. Cool and serve at room temperature.