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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Taste Cheese Crackers

My friend Imri is a server at Taste, the restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum. This past week, I stopped in with a group of friends after the 1st Thursday Art Walk to say hello to Imri and sample some yummies from his restaurant.

Everything was fabulous, and Imri treated us so well. He brought us complimentary appetizers, including some amazing cheesy crackers that I decided were akin to Better Cheddars, only 10x more with the ‘better’. I asked Imri if he could smuggle the recipe out, or if I could bribe the chef with cash, and he merely replied, “Oh, the recipe is online!” Way to smash my dreams of becoming a Foodie Mafioso, Imri.

Anyway, last weekend I made the cheese crackers. They were so tasty that I brought a few in to work to share with my boss. Later that afternoon, she burst into my office and said, “I would marry you for those crackers. If it were legal in this state. And you converted to Judaism. But seriously. They are AMAZING.”

Awww. I can always use more chef-skill-warm-fuzzies!

Taste Cheese Crackers
6 ¼ ounces Reggiano Parmigiano cheese, grated
1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ¼ ounces cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt

To Prepare the Dough:

Stir together the cheese, flour, zest and pepper with a whisk. Add the butter and mix ingredients together on low speed until it becomes the texture of course meal. Drizzle in the water and lemon juice and mix until just combined.

Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured cutting board and into a ball. Roll the ball into a log. Place the log on parchment paper and roll up, twisting the ends to seal. Wrap logs in plastic wrap or Zip-lock bags and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use. The log can be made and stored frozen for up to 2 weeks.

To Bake the Crackers:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice each log into thin rounds (about 1/8 inch thick) and place on a silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Top each cracker with a sprinkle of sea salt and bake for about 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool crackers completely before removing from pan. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Notes:

+ I used Asiago cheese in lieu of the Reggiano Parmigiano.

+ The first batch turned out quite thick and somewhat chewy due to the thickness. The crackers we had at the restaurant were thin and crispy. For the 2nd batch, I flattened the dough out with my fingers to make larger, crispier crackers. Next time I may even use a rolling pin to make them ultra-thin and super crispy. (I like crispy).

+ The dough is really crumbly. I had to divide it up and make four logs instead of 1, because every time I tried to roll it out, it would crumble and break. The smaller logs worked a lot better.

+ Make sure your knife is really sharp to avoid even more crumbling. I have to wonder if a mandolin slicer would work. Hmm.

+ These crackers are tasty, but they STINK. To high heaven. My apartment smelled like stinky cheese for a good 12 hours after baking these suckers, and the clothes I was wearing during the process had to be banished to the laundry basket STAT. Turn on the fan, open the windows, and make sure the air is circulation when you bake these puppies up. You have been warned.