Monday, December 6, 2010

the IT cracker

The wreath has hit the door. There is no turning back now. Tis the season. Yes, the hustle and bustle, but I LOVE IT! Life would be awfully dull if every day was the same. A change of pace quickens the blood and reminds me that I am alive.  Racing along Fifth Avenue last week on the way to meet a friend I caught glimpses of holiday lighting displays that made me stop in my tracks. Fendi had a three story high wall of animated lights that resembled dripping icicles. Sublime!
(I forgot my camera, but found this blog with fantastic photos of the Fendi display)

Today, is a stay at home day to begin organizing the home-front. It takes me a while to get into full holiday mode. I am always late to get the tree up and even later to take it down.  Hannukah came early this year and I have been cranking out batches of LATKES for my clients. My niece and I have just scheduled our annual marathon cookie baking date. We are hoping to try some new recipes this year. The last of the thanksgiving leftovers went into the soup pot and now we are down to our last few bowls. Looking for something new to serve with it before the family threw it at me I found a recipe by Mark Bittman for Cheese Crackers that I had cut out of the NY Times almost a year ago. The recipe had caught my eye because the crackers resemble Cheeze-Its, a truly evil product that I absolutely adore but never allow myself to buy (I think each IT is about 150 calories.) Could I possibly make my own less evil version of this? I trust Mark B. completely. He is a straight shooter and tells it like it is. The recipe was simplicity itself, took no time and was a really tasty treat. I think it is my new go-to for a while.

Mark Bittman's Parmesan Cream Crackers- click here for recipe 

The ingredients (flour, salt Parmesan cheese and butter) get dumped into a food processor. Just add some heavy cream and your dough is done.

The dough was easy to roll out and score. This is what the crackers look like coming out of the oven.

I made three versions of toppings: Chipotle Chili powder, Fleur de Sel and Black Pepper

Make big batches of these and keep them in tins, they will last the holiday season as a wonderful savory treat to serve with cocktails or A GLASS OF WINE!

Gotta give this a go for this year's holiday block party! This time of year, many a weekend night consist of sitting around my living room fire with a few friends nibbling on cheese and crackers and drinking good wine. This ritual is a wonderful way to spend a cold winter's night! A block of cheese, these Parmesan cream crackers, and a glass of red are exactly what I envision.

But what red? That is the question...Hmmmm....It is a regular practice of mine to serve cheese with wines from the particular region of origin of the cheese. Right now, I am on a big Burrata kick - a fresh Italian cheese made from Mozzarella and cream. While savoring cheese and wine in a friend's wine cellar, I fell hopelessly in love with this wonderfully buttery, rich cheese. The outer shell is mozzarella, but when sliced open, a deliciously thick cream oozes out. Yum! So, I'm thinking some Burrata, a nice piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano, some olives, the Parmesan crackers and an Italian red would be a scrumptious combination!
A nice Sangiovese is an ideal match. Sangiovese is the main varietal in Chianti, so I wouldn't hesitate to pour this alongside these terrific delicacies. Right now, one of my favorite everyday reds is Rubio, from Poggio San Polo. It is 100% Sangiovese and hails from Tuscany. It is fresh and fruity, yet has great elegance and finesse as well. Aromas of fresh cherries abound, and the subtle spicy notes on the palate are marvelous. An intense wine, it is also delightfully quaffable and makes the ideal partner with a variety of cheeses and "antipasto".
At only $11.99, this little gem is definitely worth seeking out. But if you are putting together a spread like this, and can't find it, simply ask your neighborhood retailer to make a recommendation on a nice Sangiovese!

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