Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Which Cracker Takes the Cheese?

Now I love me some cookbooks. I collect them, I read them, I look to them for inspiration, I drool on them. Rarely do I use them as intended: to actually follow a recipe. My friend Carolyn, on the other hand, not only takes cookbook worship to a whole other level (to say her collection is impressive is an understatement), but she is a devout, by-the-book recipe follower. Which is great news for me, since I'm often on the receiving end of her recipe religion.

Such was the case recently when Carolyn appeared with two packed tubs of cheese crackers. Apparently, she had been skimming her vast cookbook collection, and came across two eerily-similar cheese cracker recipes from two of her favorite authors and Food Network stars: Giada De Laurentiis and Ina Garten. What's a girl to do but make a batch of both to compare and contrast?

So we munched: both were cheesy, flavorful, and ridiculously addictive. But a clear winner? Giada's version used pecorino cheese vs. Ina's parmesan; Giada's had little kick in the form of cayenne, whereas Ina's were infused with the flavor of fresh thyme. I'm not so sure - I'd be hard pressed to choose one over the other, and in fact, thought a combination of the two would make for an ideal cracker. If I were to make them - and obvioiusly deviate from both recipes, as is my nature - I'd use Giada's pecorino together with Ina's fresh thyme. See? A new recipe is born!

But for those of you who are more like Carolyn and want a straight-up good recipe, here's both of them. Say cheese!

Pecorino Crackers
By Giada De Laurentiis
  • 1 1/4 cups grated pecorino Romano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the cheese, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add the butter. Using a hand mixer, beat the cheese mixture and butter until combined. Add the flour 1/4 cup at a time, mixing only until incorporated and the mixture holds together.

Place tablespoon-sized balls of the dough on 1 or 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets, tapping the dough down gently with your fingertips. Bake until just beginning to brown at the edges, about 15 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transfering to a serving plate.

Parmesan Black Pepper Crackers
By Ina Garten
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix until creamy. Add the Parmesan, flour, salt, thyme and pepper and combine. Dump the dough on a lightly floured board and roll into a 13-inch long log. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and
place in the freezer for 30 minutes to harden. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the log crosswise into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick slices. Place the slices on a sheet pan and bake for 22

1 comment:

  1. Leave it to Morry to provide the perfect solution. I will now have to try to "color outside the lines" and give her recipe a shot. Thanks Mo!