One of the few things I miss about having cable – besides all the trashy Bravo reality shows – is watching The Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. Actually, Ina Garten is pretty much the only thing I miss about the Food Network. Since the network moved away from chef-driven shows and tried to fill its ranks with Rachel Ray wannabes, I pretty much stopped watching all together. Well, I watched Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee, but only to gape at how disgusting everything looked.
But Ina Garten, while not a professionally trained chef, is in a class all by herself. She’s a Martha-Stewart-type, but way less fussy – she doesn’t do thing like make two-story gingerbread houses roofed in gold leaf, or top cakes with chocolate truffles molded to look like robins’ eggs. She just likes good food, with good ingredients, and she’s not afraid of a little butter. Or, well, a lot of butter.
These blue cheese walnut crackers are classic Ina. The flavor of the crackers depends on the quality and type of blue cheese you use, but the crackers themselves are quite simple and come together in minutes. Garten calls these “crackers,” but they have the crisp texture and heft of a shortbread – they’re like a cookie, minus the sugar. These crackers are decadent, savory and extremely flavorful, and everyone will think that you spent hours, not minutes, throwing them together.
I brought these to the Food Blogger Potluck last week, and they were a hit. They also made my entire apartment smell like blue cheese for a couple of days, which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your point of view. And, um, you may not want to serve these crackers on a date night – well, unless both of you really like blue cheese.
Blue Cheese Walnut Crackers
Adapted From Ina Garten
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 oz good quality blue cheese (not blue cheese crumbles), at room temp.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs water
1 large egg beaten with 1 tbs water (for egg wash)
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
In the food processor, pulse together the butter and blue cheese until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and pepper until evenly combined. Add the flour mixture and the water to the butter mixture and pulse until the dough comes together.
Remove dough to a floured work surface. Press into a ball, and then roll into a 12-inch log. Brush the log with the egg wash. Spread the walnuts in a square on the work surface and roll the log in the nuts, pressingly lightly, until the log is evenly coated. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 30 minutes to one hour, until thoroughly chilled.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the log into 3/8 inch slices with a very sharp knife. Place cracker rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 22 minutes, until very lightly browned. Cool crackers on a rack and serve at room temperature.