Again with the crackers.

Last night was not really too much of a flop. I think I finally got these the way I wanted them. Made the same way as Deb from Smitten Kitchen did except for one thing: I substituted buttermilk for the cream. It gave the crackers a slight tang that they were missing using the cream.

Now if only my butter had been colder. They are a little on the tough side where the others were light and flaky. Still rather tasty, though.

Parmesan Crackers
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Mark Bittman.

1 cup all purpose flour (unbleached is what I always use)
1/2 cup parmesan or other hard cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, cold
1/4-1/3 cup buttermilk
seeds, course salt, etc, for garnish

Cover a half sheet pan with parchment paper.

Wisk together flour, cheese, and salt in a small bowl. Cut in butter (I used a wire potato masher. Again. It seriously works.) Add buttermilk and mix with a fork until dough forms. Form into a ball carefully so as to work the dough as little as possible. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll dough to 1/8 inch and cut with pastry (or pizza) wheel into desired size. Place individually on sheet pan and bake until browned, 10-15 minutes. Cool completely before eating.

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A first attempt at what Smitten Kitchen’s Deb posted a bit ago.

Even using a can of grated cheese instead of the parmigiano reggiano that I have sitting in the fridge, the flavor is very, very good. I didn’t get them rolled out quite thin enough and that made them a little puffier than I’d rather them be, but they are sure some excellent eats for a mid-night, I-just-got-up-with-the-baby-and-I’m-starving snack.

I didn’t have a food processor so I did these like I do pastry: I took it to task with my wire potato masher. Worked pretty well.

I’ll be trying this again soon. Probably tomorrow. I have some cream I really, really need to use up.

Let it snow, let it snow…

December 26, 2009

This is what I think of as comfort food; the type of thing you’d fix on a cold, snowy day in December and serve with fresh baguette and bowls of lettuce dressed simply with oil and lemon. It’s rich, hearty, and warming. Just don’t fix it while you’re on a diet and then come to me saying it threw you violently off the wagon.

Cream of Potato and Vegetable Soup
Serves 8 *very* generously

3/4 pound bacon, diced
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 medium onion, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
3/4 pound baby carrots, sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1/2 pound broccoli, cut
2 pounds potatoes, cut in 1/2″ pieces
1/3 cup flour
2 cans vegetable broth, or 30 ounces homemade stock
1 pint half & half
1 cup cream
salt to taste
pepper to taste
good cheddar, for garnish

Cook bacon in a large soup pot until crisp. Remove bacon, saving bacon fat. Add 2 tablespoons butter to two tablespoons bacon fat and add onion, celery, carrot, and bell pepper, cooking until the carrots just start to tenderize. Add broccoli and potatoes and cook until potatoes start to tenderize. Add the rest of the butter and 1/2 the flour, cooking for about 5 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil, cooking until the vegetables are tender. Add enough half & half to the rest of the flour to make a paste and stir it into the soup with the half & half and the cream. Simmer until thickened. Serve with cheese and bacon bits sprinkled over top.