Hi friends! Happyyyy October!
Let’s make all the pumpkin things and watch all the scary movies together, kay?
Oh and September? You were pretty great. I had a blog anniversary, the fam got to visit me in Boston for the first time, and I went SAILING. Okay I sat in the boat and sipped rosé out of a paper cup while everyone else did the work. But a huge bucket list item got crossed off that day. Also, the wineries saw a lot of action from me. And I drank beer and watched baseball at Fenway: another first. Here are some highlights!
This being the first Wednesday of the month, I’m sure you’re expecting your monthly Wine Wednesday where I highlight a wine to go along with a recipe. Well, I’m going to change it up a bit.
Don’t worry, there is still wine to go around! But the concept is evolving to fit the site better. I originally began Wine Wednesday because I saw a big hole in other sites or cookbooks that recommend wines to drink with a dish. They often just said “drink this” without any explanation at all as to why that pairing made sense. That made it difficult to pair dishes with wines yourself as you stepped away from their recipe. Which doesn’t make sense to me when each bottle of Chardonnay tastes extremely different from the bottle sitting next to it on the liquor store shelf.
As a wine enthusiast, but mostly an academic and avid drinker of wine and its lingo, I thought that made me a great candidate to explain why I thought certain flavors went with others and found great wines on a cheap budget. Without too much of the sommelier language that gets intimidating. A great wine for under ten bucks. Seamless!
As the series went on, however, I found that one specific wine pick wasn’t particularly helpful. And the more I gave my favorite general guidelines, the more positive response I’d receive. So I’m going to go switch up the game.
Instead of one wine highlight, I’ll be going through which flavor/aroma profiles might work best for the recipe. And the best part? I’m going to extend it to other beverages! Bring on the beer and liquors. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. The first Wednesday after my 3-year blog anniversary seemed appropriate.
I’m also going to add a few more new things to these posts! First, I thought it would be interesting to keep you all up to date with what I’m looking forward to this month! I’ve added a new tab at the top of the page called “This Month.” I’m treating it like the beginning of your favorite magazine where the editors or contributors call out what they can’t wait to read/eat/cook/watch/visit in the upcoming weeks. I also highlight some of my favorite recipes from the site that use up the produce in-season and a handful of the go-to recipes I’m turning to from other blogs/books. It also seemed like a fantastic spot to park those gorgeous New England photos I’ve been collecting in the past months. I’m very excited about this one!
PS: that catch-up at the beginning with the adventures of the previous month—do you like that? I’m thinking of making it a regular part of these as well! Almost like chatting over a drink with a good friend about what happened since you saw each other last?
Now that your head is spinning from all of this change, let’s eat cheesy crackers and drink red wine, shall we?
These cracker twists are wonderful! So savory with the Parmigiano Reggiano and paprika and tangy with the Dijon and white cheddar. They’re a hybrid of this pie crust recipe. They use cheese to replace some of the butterfat maintaining some of the functionality of the butter. Essentially, we get a fabulous, flaky cracker with the secrets we learn from pies. Remember the benefits fat layering with flaky treats? Check it out here with these potato chip cookies. Also, be sure to use aged white cheddar, not young, if you want it to be fatty enough to mimic butter. (Remember the lesson on aged cheddar from our good friend Pat? The cheese guru!)
To pair with the cheesy twists? I’m going for bold reds. It might be the cooler change in weather over here that has me craving the cozy reds, but the internal wine clock in me has officially been switched. I personally like a big cabernet sauvignon that isn’t too dry for these. Look for a young Cab. Or a pinot noir from the lovely Oregon or Washington regions. That will contrast to the cheese crackers quite a bit and not be too intense so as to keep the snacking casual (and cozy, duh). You don’t want to overshadow the cheese notes. You want to complement them. An easy drinking red blend would also work quite well. I suspect a blonde ale or an unoaked Chardonnay would be great as well to cut through the Dijon and cheddar flavors.
Ready for October? With these twists you most definitely will be.
White Cheddar Dijon Twists
Makes 20-25 twists
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) butter, cold and cut into small pieces
¼ cup finely shredded aged white cheddar cheese, cold
2 tablespoons finely ground Parmigiano Reggiano
1 ½ cups (155 g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
A generous pinch cayenne pepper
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
For baking: flour, 1 tablespoon extra Parmigiano Reggiano, paprika, black pepper
- Prep the better and cheeses and place in the fridge to get cold. (make sure that the cheese is very finely ground for this recipe to work best)
- Whisk together the flour, salt, and peppers in a large bowl. Add the white cheddar and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano to the bowl and stir together.
- Add half of the cubes to the flour mixture and toss to coat. Use a pastry cutter, or your fingertips, to cut the butter into the flour mixture. Stop when the mixture is crumbly. Add the remaining butter to the mix and toss to coat. Then use your fingers to break up the butter cubes into pea-size pieces. Press the butter into flat sheets in order to create flakier crust.
- Whisk together the mustard, water, and vinegar in a small bowl. Add to the flour mixture and mix with a fork to bring together. Use your fingers to make the dough come together. If you need more liquid, add more ice water by teaspoon until the dough just comes together.
- Shape the dough into a rough, flat round. Wrap tightly and place in the fridge to rest for 2 hours or up to a couple days.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400⁰F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Sprinkle a counter with flour. Take the dough out of the fridge and place on top of the prepped surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and roll into a large rectangle. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 20ish strips. You may have enough on the edges to re-roll together and cut a few more strips out.
- Place the strips on the parchment-lined pan, twisting a few times and pressing the ends slightly down on the pan to keep the twist in place. Sprinkle the tops with the extra Parmigiano Reggiano, a generous sprinkle paprika, and a few cracks of black pepper.
- Bake the crackers in the preheated oven on the center rack for 15 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.
- Remove the oven and let cool before eating. These are best enjoyed the same day as they are baked, and even better within a few hours of baking. If you are eating these later on, place in an oven at 300⁰F for 5-10 minutes, or until they regain their crunch.