The following is a guest post from Sarah Pinneo, the author of the just released Julia’s Child, a “laugh-out-loud story about motherhood’s choices: organic vs. local, paper vs. plastic, staying at home vs. risking it all.” I recently had the pleasure of reading Sarah’s charming book, and I’m so pleased she’s here today sharing her recipe for cheesy cut-out crackers.
Julia’s Child is a story about a mom who tackles the question of what to feed children on an industrial scale, with humorous results. People often ask me if I’m just like the main character. After all, Julia has two boys. I have two boys. Julia has a lot of experience with food, and I’m a cookbook author. But when I get this question, I also have the feeling that readers want to know if I’m as neurotic as Julia, who is so against sugar that she surreptitiously swaps her kids’ Halloween candy for healthy substitutes.
I had a lot of fun writing Julia, because while I identify with her impulses, I’m more moderate in my delivery. (At least I hope I am.) That said I do have a couple of favorite tricks for pleasing my kids without overdoing the sweets.
For example, we have a lot of adorable cookie cutters. But how many batches of cookies can one family reasonably eat? Luckily, my kids also enjoy good cheese. We often put our cutters to good use making these homemade cheese crackers for a weekend treat. They’re amazing served warm.
Cute Cut-Out Cheese Crackers
- 3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese (just under 3 oz)
- 3/4 cup All Purpose Flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal or instant polenta
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add softened butter and work it through with your fingers until the mixture resembles gravel. (Some kids love this step.) Add 1/4 cup milk and stir to blend. Ball up the dough. If it won’t hold together, add additional milk one teaspoon at a time until the dough will just hold. Chill the dough for fifteen minutes.
Roll out the dough. If you roll it thin, you’ll get crisp crackers. If you leave it thicker, the result will be more like a biscuit, but every bit as tasty. Cut the dough into shapes with cutters, and place them on a baking sheet.
If you re-roll the dough more than once, the crackers will become tough. (We usually bake our scraps on a separate tray, and then try to guess what shape they were trying to be. Chicken foot! Boomerang! Etc.) Alternatively, roll into skinny ‘ropes’ and form into pretzels, placed upside down on baking sheet.
Bake for 6 minutes (8 minutes for thicker shapes or pretzels), then check to see if crackers have begun to brown on the bottom. If so, flip all the crackers over with a spatula. Bake for 2-5 more minutes, check for doneness by looking at the bottom as well as the top of the crackers. Remove from the oven before the bottoms burn. Cool on a rack and enjoy.
For more information on Sarah and her books feel free to follow her on Twitter!