Why does cheese look sane?

Because everyone else on the plate is crackers.

Happy Christmas Eve to those who celebrate Christmas. Happy Holidays to those who don’t. And for you humbugs out there, Happy Wednesday.

I love the holidays for the 3 F’s: Family, Friends, and Food. When those special days roll around, family rolls in, and we roll out a spread that is full of special foods that we really only get to have at party times.

One of my boyfriend’s favorites is stuffed shells. We get them before salad during holiday dinners. I must admit, they are pretty tasty, but not my favorite.

My mom also makes pies, my dad’s favorite is banana cream. But that’s not my favorite either.

What could I possibly look forward to, you ask? A really good cheese and cracker platter. What, you may exclaim, how boring and mundane. But let me explain….it has to be strong cheese. Seems so silly to say, strong cheese. But it;s the kind that attacks your nose before you eat it, or that has some delicious herby goodness mixed in and crusted on top. There are some fabulous and really stinky Italian cheeses that we get at Christmas.

Since I don’t think I’m quite ready to make my own cheese (yet) I decided to strike out and make my own crackers to fill my wintery need to nom. I’ve made crackers before, and they were tasty, but they came out a bit more like pita chips than actual crackers. I wanted something a little more traditional that my family would eat, and that would be more like actual crackers.

I did some research and thought about the flavors I wanted. If I was going to eat a simple, pungent cheese, I wanted a cracker that would compliment that. So I choose rosemary, sea salt, fennel seeds, and garlic. The amazing part of DIY crackers is that you can customize the flavors any way you want. Crazy, I know!

I used a base recipe from The Kitchn.com, but changed it a bit by switching out flours. You can use the mixture I did, you can use different flour combos, or just do 3 cups of all-purpose flour instead of mixing the flours.

The recipes comes together very quickly, though it is a bit tedious to roll out the dough, cut it, and transfer it to the baking sheet. It is, however, very worth it. I would also warn you to make sure you keep an eye on those crackers baking in the oven. They can go from perfect to a bit burnt in an instant. I would suggest the 12 minutes and then if you require more color on your crackers, that you go in 3o second increments. Otherwise you will have some very toasty crackers-which will be delicious, but not so traditional. But hey, if that’s what you’re going for, more power to you. I know there are quite a few dark and toasty fans out there. No judgement.

Happy Holidays to you all. I hope you have a wonderful few days, even if you only enjoy the time off from work.

Homemade Holiday Crackers
Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients
1.5 c all-purpose flour
1.5 c buckwheat flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup water
Optional topping suggestions: 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, etc.

Method

  1. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 450°F.
  2. Sprinkle a baking sheet lightly with flour and set aside. Or line with a silpat mat.
  3. Mix together the flour, sugar, and salt.1
  4. Add the oil and water to the flour mixture.2
    Stir until a soft, sticky dough is formed. If a lot of loose flour remains in the bottom of the bowl and the surface of the dough, add more water a tablespoon at a time until all the flour is incorporated.
  5.  Divide the dough into two halves and set one half aside. 3
    Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour and set the other half on top. Pat it into a thick square (or squarish shape) with your hands.
  6. Working from the center of the dough out, roll the dough into a rectangle roughly 1/8-inch thick or thinner.
    4
    If the dough starts to shrink back as you roll it, let it rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes and then continue rolling.
  7. Brush the surface of the dough very lightly with water. Combine your topping ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle half of them (roughly 1 1/2 tablespoons) evenly over the surface of the dough. 5
  8. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut the dough into individual crackers, roughly 1-inch by 2-inches. Or any shape that strikes your fancy.
  9. Transfer crackers to baking sheet and prick with fork to prevent them from puffing during baking.
    6
  10. Bake the crackers in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are browned. Thinner crackers will bake more quickly than thicker ones; you can remove the crackers as they brown to your liking and continue baking the rest.
  11. While the first batch of crackers is baking, roll out and cut the remaining dough.
  12. Transfer the baked crackers to a wire rack to cool completely. The crackers will crisp further as they cool. Store the crackers in an airtight container on the counter for 3-5 days. 7
  13. If you’re crackers are a little old and less-than-crispy, lay them on a baking sheet and put them in a 350°F oven for a few minutes to re-crisp
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