Archived in 2022

Originally posted on 22 Mar 2008

Tomorrow I’m joining some friends at an Easter-ish gathering. Aside from my two friends and their dog I’ll know no one there. The invite asked that people bring some sort of appetizer and something to drink. I’ve been excused from the food requirement as I’m a guest but I can’t bear the thought of showing up without something to contribute.

Unfortunately, this is a three-weekend paycheck so funds are running a bit low. My pantry is usually fairly bare as I typically buy ingredients only as I need them and then only buy enough as the recipe requires. Today is no exception to that. Dried beans, cans of fish, cans of tomatoes, odds and ends of various cheeses… This is looking fairly dire.

Hold on…various cheeses? I probably have some white wine, so I could make a fromage fort. That could be good. Oh, but wait. You can’t bring cheese without bread or crackers or something. Hrm. Too bad you can’t just make your own crackers. Or can you?

I dug through my cookbooks and was saved, as often is the case in these situations, by Mark Bittman. His How to Cook Everything includes a ridiculously simple recipe for making crackers. Oven at 400. Flour, butter, salt, flavorings if you want them are pulsed in a food processor then water added until it comes together. Roll the dough out very thin (I went for “pasta thin”), dock the dickens out of it and then cut into whatever shape you want (pizza cutter is good for this). Place on a floured baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Munch.

Unlike many pastries there’s no need to be gentle with this dough. Use copious flour when rolling. Slice, dice and toss it about. The dough is very strong and can easily be rolled paper thin. The recipe is, in general, incredibly forgiving.

It’s so easy to do and the results are so good that I’m baking my third batch. The first was garlic/parmesan and would have been perfect had the original recipe had mentioned that I should dock the crackers. They came out looking like little pillows. Tasty little pillows, but not very cracker-like. They still taste good but I can’t ask people to try to balance their cheese on that form. The second batch was cracked black pepper and worked brilliantly. The batch that just came out of the oven features this Tunisian spice mix I’d made back in January. This batch is also a keeper and has made the house smell great.

Write if you’d like the recipe and I’ll gladly pass it along. Or, better yet, run out and get a copy of this book. It’s a good one to have on hand for general-purpose cooking.