My interest in cooking started with baking, but after over 10 years of taking an active interest in oven-craft, I just love how much more there is to learn. I credit my interest in history to cooking. That sounds ridiculous, I know. But have you ever read food history books? They’re fascinating. Remember learning about the spice trade, and the British tea companies, and the foods from the “New World”? We learn about food in school, I have just taken it to a new level.
My preferred study method within my discipline is the field trip. I took one of these culinary field trips to Cheddar, England a few years ago with my family. Cheddar is a fascinating small town in Somerset, with a population under 10,000. The town boasts the largest gorge in the UK (with the
creative moniker “Cheddar Gorge”) and has had residents since Neolithic times. But, most importantly, it is the namesake of cheddar cheese. The Cheddar Gorge and cave systems provided the perfectly stable temperature and humidity that the cheddar process requires. We took a tour of a cheddar facility in the sleepy tourist town and learned that the unsung hero Joseph Harding standardized the method and process of making the cheese in the 19th century.
After this field trip, I did some extra credit homework on the subject. Cheddar, as such, has been around since at least the 12th century. And although the name of the cheese comes from England, scholars disagree (duh) on whether the cheese is a purely British contribution to civilization, or whether it was actually introduced to the UK via the Romans
who are credited with pretty much everything that ever was done well in Europe by way of Gaul (modern-day France).
So, in order to pay homage to the legacy of fromage, my cracker recipe and history lesson involves a shout out to England (Cheddar), Italy (Parmesan) and even France (rosemary). As promised, my recipe for Cheddar-Parmesan-Rosemary Crackers:
You will need:
- 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup all-purpose white flour
- 1 stick of butter
- 2 cups sharp cheddar, grated
- 1 1/2 cups Parmesan, grated
- 1 tsp. dried parsley
- 2 tsp. hot sauce or Sriracha
- Sea salt, pepper, and paprika, to taste
- Preheat your oven to 350.
- In a food processor (if you have, or mixing bowl if not), pulse all of the ingredients together until the dough forms a ball.
- Place the entire dough mound between two pieces of wax paper, and roll it out to desired thickness. Then transfer to a flat cookie sheet.
- Note: I actually had some that I rolled cracker thin and some that I left fairly thick. The thin ones were crunchy and crumbly (BF preferred the thin ones). The thick ones were like a savory shortbread in consistency (I preferred the thick ones).
- Use a knife (or pastry wheel if you’re fancy) and cut the dough into shapes or squares. Do this before baking or you won’t have any pretty ones to show off when you’re done. Also poke the tops with a fork to release some air (they puff up as they bake just a bit). Here’s a close up on how mine looked:
- Sprinkle the tops of the crackers with a little extra sea salt and bake for 8-15 minutes, depending on thickness and texture preferences.
- Don’t even think about sharing. Rise above the trance-like allure of “sit.”