There are so many things that I love about Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa. The unbelievably fake phone calls she has with her friends on her show. Her uncanny ability to find/befriend every gay man in the Hamptons. Her outrageously amazing barn that her outrageously amazing husband Jeffrey built for her.
Mostly, I love how easy her recipes are.
This weekend I headed over to my friend’s Jenny and Ben’s house for our annual pumpkin carving/foodathon. J has her own rad blog, which you can read by clicking here, all about her husband B’s bread experiments. B is a killer baker. Because he is a Doctor of Bread. (I know you’re reading this, B. Perhaps you are a Doctor of Trolling.)
Anywho. J said to bring over something to munch on during the pumpkin carving and I got this dumbass idea to bake something to take over to someone who is a really good baker. Cause you know. That’s the easiest and quickest way to show them how bad you are at something they’re good at.
I dug through my favorite of my four Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, Back to Basics, and found this recipe for Parmesan & Thyme Crackers.
It seemed simple enough. But I’d never made it before. (Sidenote: Why do I insist upon making dishes that I haven’t made before when I don’t have all the ingredients and I need an hour and a half but I only have an hour? That’s just DUMB.)
This is essentially a savory short bread. And to be honest, I had a couple of really good years where I was basically the shortbread wunderkind. And then I lost it. They’ve been too crumbly lately. More on that later…
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese, about 1 cup
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, add the parmesan, thyme, salt, and pepper and combine. With the mixer still on low, add the flour and combine until the mixture is in large crumbles, about 1 minute. If the dough is too dry, add 1 teaspoon water.
Yeah. So this is the part that started to screw me up. I got small crumbles. But not large ones. But you know what! I’m gonna be positive! I can still salvage this!
Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 9-inch log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.
…Nope! Barely got it into a ball.
When I started to roll it into a log (….ew…) it broke into giant pieces. What the HELL. Ok. Ok. Ok. I can fix this. I rolled the dough into a log (…ew…) in the plastic wrap. I saw that on Top Chef or something. It sort of worked. But I definitely had 2 small logs (….ew…) instead of one large log (….ew…)
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the log into 3/8-inch-thick rounds with a small, sharp knife and place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22 minutes, until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during baking. Cool and serve at room temperature.
Some of these crackers fell apart when I cut them, so I patched ‘em up. Like some weird cracker M*A*S*H unit where I was like Hawkeye, cracking jokes but also making you think.
A lot of the crackers were salvaged. But my dough didn’t yield nearly as many as Ina said. Look at that. The recipe called for 24 crackers. And I made… 13.
And they sure as shit don’t look like hers. I mean, they tasted REALLY good. But they did not look like the photo. Maybe instead of My Fake Food Blog, my thing should be that I make really ugly things that taste delicious.
I weep for my future children.
Oh, god. Please don’t eat my future children.