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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Novice Foodie's Homemade Cheese Snacks

Posted By on Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Still bloated from holiday feasts in Iowa with my family, my husband and I returned to St Louis for even more dinner events. What to bring to these meals? I knew I didn't want to tackle yet another hearty dish. In fact, my mind could barely get past appetizers. So why fight it?

  • Kelli Best-Oliver
I had a beautiful piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano from my visit to the Cheesemonger. In the time it would take to run to the grocery store for pre-made items, I could easily make homemade crackers and dip out of real ingredients, skipping the additives and preservatives that come with processed food.

Snack food, at home, for cheap? Yes, please.

  • Kelli Best-Oliver
Smitten Kitchen, one of my absolute favorite food blogs, posted Sunday on parmesan cream crackers from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. I've already had great success with Smitten Kitchen-approved cheese straws, so I thought the two would serve as light, yet rich foils for a healthy white bean and roasted garlic dip.

Both doughs were fairly similar: cheese (cheddar or parm), butter, flour, salt and half and half. I added crushed red pepper flakes to the cheese straws and sprinkled the parmesan cream crackers with black pepper.

  • Kelli Best-Oliver
Not only were the ingredients minimal, straightforward and on-hand, but the dough was fairly foolproof and easily combined in the bowl of my small miniprep. Both doughs needed to be rolled out. I used my trusty wine bottle rolling pin, courtesy of Mirassou Wines, but refrained from drinking a drop of said wine, a pinot grigio. I like to keep my wits about me when around my in-laws until I survey the lay of the land, and these snacks were going straight to the family.

After rolling the dough, I used my pizza cutter to slice straws and squares. I scored the squares with a fork to keep them from puffing up too much, but I was by no means methodical about it.

  • Kelli Best-Oliver
The cheese straws I'd made before, and the second time didn't disappoint. Like a Cheez-It, but less salty, more substantial and cheesy, with a little bite from the pepper. My husband easily could have eaten the entire batch. It struck me that with its similar ingredients list, this dough might make a great apple pie crust, but that's an experiment for another day. The parmesan cream crackers were adorable. The nutty parm aroma, studded with black pepper, made the crackers both smell and taste like macaroni and cheese.

Who needs preservatives? These little guys aren't going to last long.

Kelli Best-Oliver is on a quest to become a full-fledged foodie. She chronicles her adventures every Tuesday. She writes about any damn thing she pleases at South City Confidential.

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