[Recipe: Cheddar Polenta Crackers]
I wholeheartedly agree with many of the things that come from the mouth of Lynne Rosetto Kasper (host of public radio’s The Splendid Table). Last week at a speaking engagement here in town (prior to which I was privileged to interview her for a to-be-written story), she expressed an idea that I definitely appreciate:
Get your kids working next to you in the kitchen, she said — “even if it’s just to tear the lettuce.”
There was no lettuce tearing going on in my kitchen today, but, it being spring break, we have penciled in one or two family cooking projects.
First up: Crackers. My oldest (Emmie) is clinging to that precipitous cliff that will drop her headfirst into adolescence. Not only have Brian and I taken to calling her Moody behind her back, and I recently had to put products containing the word “oxy” on the Target list, but she’s been exhibiting previously unheard of (around here) food cravings.
“Mom!” she says, with urgency. “I need processed food!”
My “tween” wants crunch. She wants salt. She wants Cheez-Its.
Instead of buying the box, we decided we’d learn to make crackers. That way she can get her crunch and her salt, but she can also pronounce all the ingredients. I only recently figured out that it’s possible to make crackers at home. No conveyer belts or annatto extract required.
Our home-baked cracker debut is an adaptation of a Heidi Swanson recipe by way of Patricia Wells. We omitted the cayenne pepper entirely and used shredded sharp chedder in place of Parmesan. Cheez-Its these are not, but even for prepubescent cracker enthusiasts, homemade is better.
Cheddar Polenta Crackers
1 C white-whole wheat flour
1 C cornmeal (or instant polenta — I used Arrowhead Mills)
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 C freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 1/2 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3/4 C buttermilk
In a food processor, combine flour, cornmeal, salt, baking soda and cheddar. Process until combined. Add the butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and process until combined and the mixture is dough-like (if it’s too wet, add a tablespoon of flour). Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for a few seconds. Let rest on the counter for about 15 minutes.
Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface to 1/16 of an inch thick. Using a 1 3/4-inch biscuit cutter or a glass, cut dough into rounds. Place crackers on cookie sheets (I covered mine in Silpat; parchment paper would work, too) and bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
Makes about 5 to 6 dozen crackers, depending on size.