Thursday, February 10, 2011

Irish Blue Crackers

Monday night was one of those nights where I cooked just for the fun of it. It was snowy and cold outside, Butch was at school, and I suddenly felt the need to make something more fun and whimsical than the tofu and veggie stir-fry I had planned for dinner that night. So I went ahead and whipped up some homemade marshmallows (which I will tell you about later) and, because I was on a roll and still had an hour to kill before I needed to start the stir-fry, went ahead and made these crackers too.

The cool thing about making things like marshmallows and crackers from scratch is that, for me at least, these are the kind of items usually purchased in boxes and bags from the grocery store and produced using unknown methods in distant factories. Creating them in your very own kitchen feels like solving a mystery or starring in your very own episode of Unwrapped. There is also something to be said for cooking with no other intent than to fulfill your curiosity about how a certain food is made. A truly indulgent first-world form of therapy to be sure, but I recommend it nonetheless.

Now how exactly did these crackers turn out, you ask? I loved them but if you’re expecting the crunch of wheat thins or saltines then look elsewhere. These crackers are more like a flat, slightly crispy version of a buttery, flaky biscuit. The inclusion of blue cheese adds just the right amount of flavor without being overpowering (just ask Mike, who hates blue cheese but happily ate these crackers and was none the wiser until I informed him of the ingredients). They are just the kind of thing that I would want to crumble into a big bowl of tomato soup on a cold winter night.

Irish Blue Crackers (from Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess: Baking and The Art of Comfort Cooking)

OK, so I really liked these crackers and so did Butch, but then my sisters tasted them and were not huge fans. But they are kind of fussy individuals so I’m not going to take their opinion as a general consensus. So if you try these will you do me a favor and let me know if you like them? I want to know if they really are gross and maybe I just love them in the same way that a mother loves an ugly baby.

3/4 cup cashel blue or other blue cheese, crumbled
scant 1/2 cup butter, softened
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup blue cornmeal (I just used yellow. According to Nigella you can just use all flour)
pinch of salt
1 beaten egg for glazing (optional)

1) Mix the cheese, butter and egg yolk together.
2) Work in the cornmeal, flour, and salt until a soft dough forms.
3) Shape into a fat disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4) Roll dough out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick.
5) Cut into desired shapes (I used hearts because valentine's day is coming up) and place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Brush with egg glaze, if desired.
6) Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes, until center is puffed and edges are crispy.

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