In her biweekly column, A Shared Tradition, CIA grad and amateur food historian Molly Siegler cruises around the world (and into the depths of her pantry) to explore the versatility of a single food item.
This week: Molly uses a buttery cracker dough to explore old world flavors (but she can't resist looking to her own backyard for inspiration).
Photo by Sarah Shatz
We have been tricked into thinking we’re not supposed to make crackers. Grocery store aisles are so full of options, what’s the point of heading to the kitchen? But, with the ease of my basic recipe and the pressure of holiday entertaining knocking at your door, why not hop into the kitchen and create your own signature hors d’oeuvre?
My basic homemade cracker recipe is based on Dorie Greenspan’s "cheez-it-ish crackers" from her book Around My French Table -- one of my absolute favorite cookbooks. I have made some variation of these crackers an embarrassing number of times and they store so effortlessly (in logs of yummy cracker dough) it makes my addiction much too easy to feed. As you experiment with these cracker concepts, add more butter (or a splash of olive oil) if necessary to hold the dough together.
To avoid leaving a trail of crumbs in her wake, my mom often eats crackers from a bowl with a spoon. If you roll and slice your own crackers at an appropriate diameter you can keep crumbs to a minimum and forgo the utensils.
The layering of spices in Indian cuisine is so appealing in cracker form and perfect for experimenting.
We’re called Cheeseheads for a reason! This state is stuffed with beautiful cheesemaking facilities, but cheddar is a standard I cannot ignore.
Images of Southern France conjure up rolling hills littered with herbs and edible flowers. Add those dreamy, aromatic qualities to your crackers for a quick getaway.
The color of these crackers alone promises lively banter.
Rummaging around my overstuffed spice cabinet; spicy cheddar crackers in log form (photos by Molly Siegler)
These are just a few of the ways I like to travel by way of crackers. What other regionally inspired flavors would you infuse into this staple snack? Share your ideas in the comments section below.
Do you love a good food theme as much as I do? Tell me what food items or themes you'd like to see featured in this column and your idea could be the subject of an upcoming post!
Molly is a chef and food educator living and cooking in Northern Wisconsin. When she's not dreaming up themed menus, she's dishing out other delicious content as the editorial assistant for the Whole Foods Market Cooking program.