Thursday, December 6, 2012

Crackers anyone? Cheddar Cheese Crackers Two Ways

I was watching the TV the other day when I caught the last half of the movie Garden State. I had forgotten how much I love that movie, plus all of the awesome music in it.  Just a few years ago, I could be caught quoting it, to the annoyance of my boyfriend, who does not necessarily share my love for the movie.   But really, as a freshman in college I thought that it was so "enlightening," so for your enlightenment here are a few tidbits from Garden State.

"If you can't laugh at yourself, life is going to seem a whole lot longer than you'd like. " - Sam

"I know it hurts. That's life. If nothing else, It's life. It's real, and sometimes it fuckin' hurts, but it's sort of all we have. " - Sam

Then there are times I think when we all feel like doing this to let it all out.

And then some of the better songs: "I don't think I will ever get over you" - Colin Hays
                                                                   "Such Great Heights" - Iron and Wine  

What is it about songs and movies that can take you back?  That can so easily mark specific times and even moments in life?  I guess food does the same how the standard boxed butter cookies with red and green sprinkles always make me think of holiday programs at daycare growing up.  How pomegranates make me think of my friend Lauren who was eating them back in middle school, long before they were a "cool" food.  And well cheese crackers make me think of Christmas, and cheese straws, which somehow makes me think of sausage balls.  I know, I know strange, but it has to do with the spiciness of sausage balls, plus they have lots of cheese in them.

So, lets talk about these crackers.  If you own a food processor they are super easy to make! They puff up the way goldfish do, have a nice cheddar cheese flavor, and are great by themselves or with tomato soup.  Plus, I did these two ways, one batch based on the original recipe and then in the second batch I added some paprika and chili powder for a bit more flavor and spice.  These would be great served at any holiday party this season or even thrown in a gift basket.  Enjoy!

James enjoying them in his soup with lunch this week.

Laying it all out...cheeses, flour, salt, pepper.

Butter in and now time for the cheese (Wisconsin cheese: mild yellow cheddar and extra sharp white cheddar)

Butter and cheese incorporated; just needs the water.

Dough ready to go.

Roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper.  This way your rolling pin doesn't stick and it keeps things cleaner and less messy.

Cookie cutter time, Somehow I totally had the perfect 1 1/2 inch round cookie cutter hiding and just waiting to be used for the first time.

Round and round until they are all cut out.  Then ball up the scraps and start all over again.

First batch ready for the oven.

Second batch ready for the oven.

Cheddar Cheese Crackers 2 Ways: (original recipe from Home Cooking in Montana)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper 
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
8 ounces grated cheddar cheese(I did 4oz mild and 4 oz sharp)
3-4 tablespoons water

2nd batch with a little kick:
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder for sprinkling

1.  Pulse the flour, salt and pepper, then add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add grated cheese a little at a time until the mixture again resembles coarse meal.

2.  Pulse in 3 to 4 tablespoons of water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms into a ball. It will probably take a minute or so.

3.  Remove, wrap in plastic, and chill for 20 minutes or up to 24 hours. I left mine overnight. This way the butter has time to solidify and I think makes for puffier crackers.

4.  Cut the ball of dough in half and then re-wrap half and stick in the refrigerator.  Roll the dough out to 1/8th-inch thickness directly onto a baking sheet. You don't want to roll them paper thin, neither do you want to roll them too thick. If they are too thin, they will not puff up as much. If they are too thick, they will not be as crispy.

5.  Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut 1 inch squares.  If you happen to have a 1 - 1 1/2 inch round cookie cutter laying around, feel free to use it.  Feel free to roll up any scraps into a ball and re-roll out the dough.

6.  Bake at 350° F for 15-20 minutes or until crackers are golden brown. Watch them after the 10 minute mark.  Store in an airtight container and Enjoy!

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