Have you ever had a crush on someone you’ve never met? You read something they wrote, you get a glimpse into their life, their passions, their creativity… and suddenly you’re just a little bit… well, smitten (gosh, I wish I had a better word for that, given what I’m about to say.) That’s how I feel about Deb of Smitten Kitchen. I’ve been reading her blog for longer than I care to admit, starting out as an iVillage reader and moving on to TheSmitten from there. She lives in my city, is made entirely of magic, and is the first person I ever heard of who baked her own wedding cake– giving me the guts to volunteer to bake my friends’ cake a few years later (using, incidentally, the same frosting recipe.) Her recipes always come out perfect for me, every single time– and I always get requests to make them again and bring them places.
This is a very long-winded way of telling you that last week, when I was making tomato soup, I craved parmesan-pepper crackers and Deb rescued me. I don’t think she intended to– I saw nothing fitting the bill on her website– but way down deep in the Google results, I her recipe for Parmesan Cream Crackers… and decided that was close enough. Modifications were needed, but I knew she wouldn’t have posted the recipe if it wasn’t The Right One. I swapped out cream for buttermilk because that’s what I had and Romano cheese for Parmesan cheese because I vastly prefer it– and then I added a spoonful of freshly cracked pepper. It took less than 5 minutes to put together *and* roll out, and when I took my second batch to a potluck the next week, three people asked for the recipe. It’s that magical. Also, a really good way to use up any pregrated cheese you have that’s about to go bad. Just don’t use that dusty “cheese” in the green foil tube. It won’t taste any better cooked.
Romano-Cracked Pepper Cream Crackers
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Parmesan Cream Cracker recipe
Makes 24 2.5″ round crackers
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely grated Romano cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1″ chunks
1 t freshly ground pepper
salt and pepper for sprinkling on top
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line 3 baking sheets with foil or parchment paper. Pulse flour, salt, cheese, and butter in a food processor until they are combined (I used my mini and it was the perfect size.) Add buttermilk and pepper and pulse until it comes together to form a dough. One time I needed a teaspoon more, but the other two times 1/4 of a cup was perfect. A mystery. Roll the dough out to 1/4″, then separate into crackers however you see fit. Arrange on the baking sheets in such a way that each has at least 1/2″ of room surrounding it; they don’t grow too much. Pierce the crackers several times each with a fork to avoid big puffy burnt pockets, then sprinkle the tops lightly with salt and pepper.
Bake until somewhat browned, about 12 minutes. Cover loosely, if at all, and if you put them into an airtight container, leave a paper towel in the container to help absorb any moisture floating around– they lose some of their crispness over time.