hallmark movies, sufjan christmas, lefse parties, please get at me!!! the holiday season is upon us and i am here for it as aggressively as ever. last year my holiday season was half spent sneaking out of holiday parties to the nearest fast casual restaurant with my laptop and book manuscript, and the year before that it was spent planning our wedding and not having too many sufganiyot so that i could fit into my dress, but this year i am buying extra stock in stretchy pants and spiking everything with schnapps. it's gonna be so great! i still have some book tour stops* but those are all about partying, being merry, and eating cookies so they're only gonna further my descent into becoming one big ball of chrismukkah.
obviously one of my favorite parts about planning the holidays is thinking up menus: which dumplings will be at our dumplings of the world party, which latke toppings will make their debuts, and how i'm going to decorate eggboy's 30th (!!!!) birthday cake. one component that's sometimes kind of a challenge is the appetizers. usually my holiday meals are basically all large appetizers (dumplings, latkes) or so staunchly main-course-oriented (thanksgiving) that i avoid complicated appetizers to allow for more room and energy for the bird and its stuffing. in the latter case, simple things like cheesy twists or a block of cream cheese with jalapeño jam dumped on it do the trick, but my family's been falling back on those for years, so this year i'm adding a new recipe to our arsenal of unfussy cheese appetizers: slice and bake cheese crackers!
i am really excited about these because they are the combination of two of my favorite childhood snackees, slice and bake cookies and cheez its. they can also be prepped far in advance, frozen, and baked up fresh so they're hot and ready for the party. these pimiento-flecked bbs feature Roth’s alpine-style grand cru reserve, which is made right in wisconsin but has a strong gruyère-like personality that will make you feel fancy and festive. it's such a flavorful cheese that these crackers really don't need to be a served with much else. you could pair them with some apricot jam or onion jam, but i like them all by themselves. and also all to myself... so make a double batch...
slice and bake cheese crackers
makes 40 crackers
8 oz roth grand cru reserve cheese, shredded
1 c flour
a good pinch of kosher salt
a few turns of black pepper
1/4 c unsalted butter, cold and cubed
optional: 2 oz diced pimientos, drained
2-4 tb cold water
Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or everything bagel topping
place the cheese, flour, salt, and pepper in a food processor and pulse until combined. add the butter and pulse until the mixture turns to small pea-sized pieces. continue pulsing and add the pimientos, if using, and water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture resembles couscous and sticks together when you squeeze a small amount in your hand.
turn it onto a lightly floured surface and use your hands to work the mixture together into two cylinders that are each about 2” wide. roll the cylinders in seeds or everything bagel topping and then wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 3 days (or freeze for up to 3 weeks and thaw in refrigerator overnight before going onto the next step).
preheat the oven to 425ºf. line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
slice the cylinders into 1/4” slices, arrange on the baking sheets about 1" apart and bake until lightly browned. begin checking for doneness at about 15 minutes. remove from the oven, let cool on the pan, and enjoy!