Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike. -John Muir

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pamesan and Thyme Crackers

When I was in undergraduate chemistry I was almost afraid to do my experiments because I thought doing the slightest thing wrong would cause a great catastrophe.  My friend in the class realized this and whenever he finished his lab he would come over to my station and set something on fire or cause some undesired chemical reaction.  This would make me laugh and let me finish the lab without worrying about setting the building on fire.  What exactly am I getting at?

When I started baking I was exactly the same way.  I was afraid I had to do everything exactly as the recipe said or my kitchen would spontaneous light on fire or my food would be awful.  These days I feel like my own grandmother in the kitchen.  I add things to improve texture and color instead of going by a recipe verbatim.  I now can feel how bread dough should be and either add flour or water to it to fix it.  There are some quantities I never measure, and I never use unsalted butter.

Which brings me to the following recipe.  The texture of a shortbread cookie, the taste of a artisan cracker, these babies are simple enough for any home-cook to make.  Here's how...

What you need:
2 sticks of butter (room temperature)
8 oz (2 cups) of Parmesan cheese (grated)
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups all purpose flour
2-3 tbsp water

With an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, about 1-2 minutes.  Then on a low speed blend the Parmesan cheese, thyme, and pepper into the butter.  Slowly add the flour.  Add water as needed to make the dough moist and easy to work with.  When the dough is mixed, divide into 2 portions.  Roll each ball of dough in waxed paper to create a log.  Chill this log for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.  Once the dough has been chilled, slice 1/4 inch pieces and lay them on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until edges start to brown.  Enjoy!

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