While David and I were cooking some of the Chrismukkah food, we had the film Julie & Julia on the computer in the background. I haven't seen this movie in a while, and definitely not since I started a blog this past July.
I've read both of Julie Powell's books; while I liked Julie & Julia well enough , I had to skip over large portions of her follow-up book, Cleaving. I really didn't want to hear about her affairs, particularly since I thought her husband was a little bit of a saint based on the portrayal in her first book. Powell was somewhat more likable in the movie, but I've concluded that it was only because she was portrayed by Amy Adams, who has made a good career out of being cute and likable.
It's easy enough to put together a good chatterer platter: I like at least one hard and one soft cheese, preferably one cow's-milk cheese and one goat's or sheep's milk cheese. Usually I will also have at least two types of cured meats, black olives and perhaps some mixed nuts. Cashews and cheese are an irresistible combination. Sliced fresh baguette or good crackers is also a must.
|Can you tell we nibbled off the raclette while we were cooking?|
Note that I say good crackers, not crappy commercial crackers with lots of hydrogenated soybean oil or preservatives. Stonewall Kitchen makes my favorite store-bought cracker, but when I have time, I prefer to make them myself. The following recipe can be adapted to other fresh herbs and hard cheeses that may be lurking in your refrigerator. They are buttery, flavorful and worth the relatively small amount of time and effort involved.
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten
1/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup good-quality Parmesan cheese, finely shredded
1 1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely minced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Using a stand mixer, beat the butter with the paddle attachment on medium speed until it is creamy. Turn the mixer to low and add the rosemary, Parmesan, salt and pepper until just incorporated.
When you're ready to bake the crackers, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the dough into rounds about 1/4 quarter inch thick, or thinner if you prefer.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and then space the rounds on that sheet--there will be about 24 crackers, depending on how thickly you've sliced them.
Cool on wire racks.