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.

6 comments:

veggie belly said...

I love Ina! Her recipes are so elegant. These crackers sound flavorful and look yummy! Nice dish :)

Andrea said...

Dana, I've never made crackers before and seriously every thanksgiving I think about doing it. I'm going to take the plunge this year since I'm not making the entire meal (we're going to a friend's family's house) but I'm bringing appetizers. Is this your favorite cracker?

Seattle Mama Drama said...

Thank you for sharing these delicious crackers with us last night! They were so savory, and I love that they weren't too crunchy...they melt in your mouth!!

Dana Treat said...

Andrea - I think for ease of preparation and end result, these are indeed my favorites that I have made. The dough comes together great and your hands-on time is seriously five minutes. If you do freeze the dough, I would let it thaw overnight in the fridge before slicing otherwise it may splinter. Let me know how you like them!

marsha said...

Dana, do you think these would be OK made with white whole wheat flour or would they be too heavy and dry?

Dana Treat said...

Marsha - I have to tell you that I honestly don't know, having only used white flour with these crackers. Maybe use a mix of both and if they turn out all right, try just the wheat. Sorry I'm not more help!