Every day till Christmas, we're bringing you 12 Days of Baking: 12 all-new baking recipes to lift holiday spirits -- from breakfast pastries to dinner rolls, and all the desserts you can handle.
Today: Amanda brings us carta musica (semolina crackers), a new feather in your hors d'oeuvre cap.
The first chef I worked for was Jody Adams, back when she was running Michela's in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Now, she's the chef and owner of Rialto Restaurant, also in Cambridge). Her kitchen staff at Michela's was diverse, and unlike most restaurant kitchens, there was gender equality and a fun, supportive atmosphere. Had it not been, I'm not sure I'd be here writing about food. Thanks to Jody, I was fully seduced by the culture she'd created, and decided then and there to make a career in the food business.
Jody was also ahead of her time in her love for Italian peasant cooking, epitomized by these crackers -- "carta musica," or sheet music -- which she served at Michela's.
Making crackers seems daunting, which is why most people pick them up at the grocery store, but these can be whipped up by anyone who can make pie dough. All you do is work 3 ingredients by hand into a firm dough. Roll out the dough as thinly as possible (you should be able to see through it). Lay the dough on a baking stone in a 500-degree oven. Then watch it through the oven door as it puffs and warps and sets to toasty, rigid crispness. The perfect hors d'oeuvre crackers are within reach.
My family has been making these for 20 years, ever since I worked at Michela's. At the holidays, we serve them with smoked salmon and this lemon-herb cream. This year, I'm changing to a smoked fish spread. But you might want to pair it with a cheese ball, pate, potted shrimp, rillettes, or pimento cheese. These crackers play nicely and get along with everyone, even dips.
Adapted from Jody Adams, the chef at Rialto in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Makes about 20 large crackers
1 cup semolina flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Photos by James Ransom