Category Archives: CRACKERS

PARMESAN CRACKERS

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While staying with Mr. C’s sister Katie and her husband Rick to attend the Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival this year, Katie made these amazing crackers for a function at a local art gallery. But of course, we all had to make certain that the crackers were worthy of such an auspicious gathering, especially since the event was in conjunction with the festival. And oh my goodness. All four of us were absolutely blown away by how delicious they were. (It truly was a miracle that any of the crackers made it to the gallery. But we are all adults and have been known, upon occasion, to show a modicum of restraint when necessary! And this was one of those times when it was necessary. Darn!)

Anyway, this recipe comes from chef Marc Murphy. But instead of calling them crackers, he calls them “My Mother’s Parmesan Cookies”. We all concluded that they were really more of a savory cracker than a cookie, so thus the name change. Katie also thought a bit of black pepper would be a nice additional. Therefore I included the pepper in the recipe, because I wholeheartedly agreed with her conclusion. (Actually, a tiny touch of pepper is wonderful with almost any savory, and a wide array of sweets. I mean really, can you imagine pfeffernusse or strawberries without a dash of pepper in the ingredient list? Not on my watch, I’ll tell you that!)

So whatever you ultimately choose to call these little bites of heaven, cookies or crackers, they are sure to please anyone lucky enough to be in their proximity. But warn your family and friends. Once tried, no one can stop at just one! So he/she who hesitates is lost. Or more aptly put – delay or vacillation could result in unfortunate or disastrous consequences.

For more cracker recipes, search under “Crackers” in the category section.

  • 16 T. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 c. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (Don’t even think about using that stuff that comes in a can!)
  • a couple twists of finely ground black pepper, opt.
  • 1¾ c. unbleached all-purpose flour

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter, cheese, pepper, and flour together until stiff dough forms. (If your butter is really soft, this should take no time at all.) Roll dough into logs about 1½ inch in diameter, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour. When ready to bake, slice dough into thin slices (about 1/3rd inch thick) and place on lightly buttered, Silpat, or parchment paper lined baking sheet(s)*. (If hard to cut, allow rolls to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, then try again.)

Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until edges and bottoms are a nice golden brown. Remove crackers from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes on baking sheet(s) before transferring to a wire rack. When completely cooled store in an airtight container.

*If using more than one sheet, shift and rotate the pans half way through the baking process.

Please note: These crackers will stay fresh for a few days, but don’t count on any making it past day 2. At least at our house, homemade crackers have the same chance of longevity, as say, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream!)

Dough can be prepared and rolled into logs the day before and refrigerated until needed.

CROCCANTINI CRACKERS WITH FRESH ROSEMARY

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And yes, this is a knock off of La Panzanella’s amazing Rosemary Croccantini. I found the recipe (or the bones of the recipe) on The Fresh Loaf web site. (Great site BTW.) And if truth be told, I’m not going to make a habit of preparing these homemade crackers each time I need a base for a yummy spread. I’m not crazy after all! But for those times when I want to play gourmet and impress the pickles out of a small group of people, myself included, I’m going to continue baking a batch of these little darlings whenever a get a wild hair. And truly, they are very easy to build and don’t take that much time. But sticking my hands and head in and out of a 450 degree oven is not something I care to do on an everyday basis!

So now that I have convinced you that these crackers are somewhat of a bother, let me tell you why I am going to continue making them, if only for special occasions. And why you should try them at your earliest convenience. THEY ARE JUST FREAKING DELICIOUS. In my opinion, they are even better than their prototype. Not kidding here folks. Fresh out of the oven they are light, crisp, and don’t break into a million pieces at the mere suggestion of using them as the base for a spread. They are simply perfect crackers.

Plus, if you are the kind of person who enjoys speculating on how much money you save by baking your own breads, desserts, etc., like I do, you are going to love this recipe all the more. Just glance down at the list of ingredients; then think about how much an 8 ounce package of this type of cracker costs at the grocery store. (And yes I know you can buy them for a reduced price at Costco, but not everyone has a Costco within walking distance!) But of course, as our dear friend Jim so lovingly pointed out last evening at our cooking club dinner party, you still have to consider the cost of running your oven etc. if you are going to perform an accurate analysis of the cost savings. (Not going to do that, just telling you straight!) But I’m still willing to bet a month’s wages (like I still receive wages being retired and all) that the savings is in the vicinity of 85-90%.

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(Our cooking club sitting down for yet another wonderful meal together.)

So considering the cost savings, the fact that these crackers are really quite easy to build, and that the final product is amazing, I advise you to put on your welding smock (just kidding) and get cracking, or should I say – get crackering!

  • 1½ c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. course sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1-2 T. chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ c. very cold water

Place a baking stone* on a rack set in the middle of your oven. Place an empty pan (like an 8×8-inch metal cake pan) on the lower rack and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Meanwhile, place the flour, salt, and rosemary in the bowl of your food processor fitted with the cutting blade; pulse to blend the ingredients. Add the olive oil and pulse again. Add the cold water in a thin stream until the dough comes together; process for about 20 seconds. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface (I use a pastry cloth) and knead to a smooth ball. Divide into four equal sized portions and cover with a towel; let rest 5 minutes. Using a rolling pin, roll each quarter of dough out until the dough is paper thin. (Make sure you have plenty of flour on the rolling surface and also on your rolling pin. The dough is quite sticky.) Pierce the dough liberally with a table fork to help prevent bubbles forming during the baking process; cut the rolled dough into workable sized pieces.

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Cover a one sided baking sheet (see picture below) with parchment paper and place the dough pieces on the paper. Sprinkle lightly with course sea salt.

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When ready to start baking, add about ½ cup water to the pan in the bottom of the oven. Slide the crackers, using the cookie sheet in much the same way you would use a pizza paddle, onto the baking stone, parchment paper and all.

Set your timer and flip the crackers (I use my fingers) after about 3 minutes. Bake another 3 minutes or until the crackers start to show a hint of brown. (You truly need to watch the crackers very carefully throughout the entire baking process.) Then using the same technique you used to slide the parchment paper onto the baking stone; reverse the process. Slide the cookie sheet under the first inch or so of parchment paper and pull the paper onto the cookie sheet. (You can use your fingers for this step because the paper is not hot. Just don’t touch the baking stone.)

When out of the oven, cool the crackers on wire racks. Repeat the process for the next 3 pieces of dough including cutting new parchment paper for each batch.

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Please note: Some crackers may be slightly limp when taken out of the oven, but will crisp up as they cool. If a couple don’t seem to be crisping properly, place them back in the turned off oven and they will dry out in about 5 minutes from the residual heat.

Cool crackers completely before storing in an airtight container at room temperature.

Serving suggestion: try using these crackers as a base for the next recipe I’m going to post – Sharp Cheddar Cheese and Creamy Horseradish Spread.

*If you don’t own a baking stone, just use the baking sheet. You might need to increase the baking time a bit for both sides. Watch closely.

CHEDDAR PECAN CRACKERS

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So one day I’m talking to my mother-in-law, who by the way was a fabulous cook, about appetizers. She told me about these crackers she used to make that were just fabulous. So not being a shy, young daughter-in-law, I asked her if she would make some for our next get-together. And because I am so adorable, she did just that. OK, the result was disastrous! I made a complete pig of myself. I just could not restrain myself from going back for “just one more”! (I’m still embarrassed about that less than stellar moment in my life.) The upshot was that she gave me the recipe, and because I am terribly devoted to my readers, I am going to share the recipe with you. Please, don’t make the same mistake I did. Make these and sample one (good luck on that!) when you are alone. You’ll thank me, I promise.

  • 1 c. butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 c. (1 lb.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 c. finely chopped pecans
  • 2 c. flour

Cream butter, cayenne, salt, and cheese together in a large mixing bowl. Add pecans and flour and mix well. Roll dough into logs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. When ready to bake, slice dough in thin slices (about 1/4th inch thick) and place on lightly buttered baking sheet. Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until edges and bottoms are a nice golden brown. (I don’t use the convection option on my oven when I bake these crackers.) Remove crackers from pan as soon as they come out of the oven. But be careful. They are very fragile while still warm. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container. They will stay fresh for a couple of weeks, if they last that long, of course!