Crackers from Scratch at the Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium in Brandon, Florida

Happy Groundhog Day! Some of you know that I also produce a monthly podcast for learners of American English called Slow American English. Even if you don’t need English lessons, I think my articles are rather interesting. Check out the one about Groundhog Day and let me know what you think.

This week’s post is about the Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium in Brandon, Florida. They are an upscale kitchen supply store and it’s just a playground for me! Not the least of their wonderful features is their instructional program. They offer classes on everything from basic knife skills to preparing gourmet meals. The staff is professional and the instructors are knowledgeable and effective. Not only that, you should see their classroom!

 

And a high-tech video system for large classes:

Ok, so, back in December, I gave you a recipe for no-bake seasoned saltines to go with my easy rosemary mozzarella cubes appetizer. That was for you overworked people who had guests you had to feed in a hurry. This week I bring you a couple of great homemade-from-scratch cracker recipes since you now have lots of time and inclination!

I learned these recipes at one of the classes at the Rolling Pin, so there’s your tie-in. The chef actually taught four different cracker recipes in that class:

Cheddar hazelnut:

Poppy seed pinwheels:

Rosemary pine nut:

Stilton pecan (served with roasted peaches): The rosemary pine nut recipe is by far my favorite from the class. I’ve made them several times at home.

Here are some things I learned in the class at Rolling Pin:

  • For rolled-out dough, use a cookie cutter, ravioli stamp, pasta cutter wheel or knife to cut out the crackers. Smaller sizes are best; larger crackers will break.
  • Cracker dough will keep in the freezer for a few months if tightly sealed. Thaw to room temperature before baking.
  • Use a ceramic knife to chop herbs and other green things; it won’t turn the herbs brown the way metal knives will.
  • Use blanched nuts with no skin; they are less bitter.
  • Hand-chop nuts instead of using a food processor. Processing is prone to result in nut butter, not chopped nuts.
  • Don’t toast nuts if you use them in baked goods. Baking will toast them.
  • A little cornmeal in cracker dough helps give a sturdier texture.
  • A pinch of cayenne or black pepper in cracker dough helps give a savory “background” flavor.
  • Sift chopped nuts in a mesh strainer to remove the nut “flour” that can absorb moisture in the dough and make it too dry.

I highly recommend shopping and taking classes at the Rolling Pin. They are located near Brandon mall, but you’ll need a GPS or detailed directions to get there (one-way streets, frontage roads, etc.). Once you get there, you’ll be very glad you found it!

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