A Family Twist on Cheese and Crackers

By Edan Goode

Recently, I got to take a tour of the factory where 34 Degrees Crisps are made. It was fascinating. I’ve always had a thing for seeing how something is made, watching it come down a conveyor belt, being inspected, packaged up and sent off to the store where it’s in the more familiar form I’m used to seeing.

Where does the name, 34 Degrees come from, you might ask? We did and found out it’s the latitude of Sydney, Australia where the owner, Craig Liberman, attended school. He was so taken with the Australian cuisine, he set out to import some of his favorite products to America, among them, thin crisp crackers. The crackers turned out to be the hottest seller, so Lieberman started making them locally. Cool story, huh?

Nutella and a strawberry slice, on a 34 Degrees Sesame Crisp.

Nutella and a strawberry slice, on a 34 Degrees Sesame Crisp.

I’ve been a fan of these very thin crackers that remind me more of a pizzelle cookie with its irregular edges, substantial but thin texture and decorative stamp on the surface. I first sampled them at Whole Foods when they were served with a soft cheese and fig jam. They were so good and didn’t show up the toppings like some crackers do. So when I had the opportunity to peek behind the scenes, I jumped at the opportunity and in the process learned some neat tricks for families.

After the tour, my fellow bloggers and I were treated to a brief education in taking good old cheese and crackers to a more elevated, yet still doable art. We paired various hard and soft cheeses with different flavors of 34 Degrees Crisps including their natural flavor, whole grain, sesame, rosemary and cracked pepper flavors (they have two new flavors coming out soon but that’s top secret – wait and see). It was interesting to see how the subtle flavor of the crackers brought out certain elements in the flavor of the cheese.

Some topping ideas: Left, baby spinach, smoked trout, goat cheese and chive garnish on Natural Crisps. Right, corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, thousand island dressing and a cornichon on a 34 Degree Cracked Pepper Crisp.

Some topping ideas: Left, baby spinach, smoked trout, goat cheese and chive garnish on Natural Crisps. Right, corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, thousand island dressing and a cornichon on a 34 Degree Cracked Pepper Crisp.

Here are some ideas for ways to top 34 Degrees Crisps:

  1. Turn them into dessert by spreading Nutella over a Natural or Whole Grain Crisp (think pie crust flavor), topped with a strawberry half.
  2. Break apart the Rosemary Crisps over a salad as a lighter crouton.
  3. Have a cheese and cracker party for kids to introduce them to new cheeses, offering mild and sharp cheddar, brie, Colby Jack (they’ll like the mottled effect) and gouda.
  4. Set out a bunch of different ingredients including meats, poultry, seafood, cheeses, diced veggies and herbs and get creative with combinations. Vote on your favorites to serve next time.
  5. One great hint for adding toppings was to always put down a small piece of lettuce, spinach or arugula before adding a wetter topping like tomatoes, sour cream or a moister cheese to prevent the crisp from getting soggy-plus it looks pretty.
  6. Spread a thin layer of a nut butter or spreadable cheese over a crisp then let kids design faces or other patterns with chocolate chips, raisins or craisins.

For more ideas for combinations, whether they are just for the family or for an easy party treat, visit the 34 Degrees website, 34-Degrees.com.

 

Treats that really deliver! By Edan Goode

I have to admit that when a holiday approaches, like sugary tunnel vision, my thoughts go straight to beautifully decorated baked goods. Visions of decorated sugar cookies at Christmas, heart-shaped everything at Valentine’s Day and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dance in my head.

Alas, the reality is that the visions in my head of perfectly decorated confections turn out looking more like a two-year-old did it.

That’s why I’m thankful for bakeries that turn out beautiful baked treats for the various holidays.  Places like Happy Cakes, Mulberries Cake Shop and Cake Crumbs turn out mini works of art. Even Whole Foods and the good old grocery store whip up pretty little goodies you’d be proud to serve at home or at the class party. I refuse to feel guilty for buying ready-made treats when I can get such lovely ones made for me!

When even schlepping to the nearest bakery is more effort than you care to take on, beautifully decorated goodies are just a mouse click away.  Take, for instance, Edible Gifts Plus.  They have creative treats for every conceivable holiday including ones I hadn’t associated with baked goods like Saint Patrick’s Day and Administrative Appreciation Week!

Their Romantic Belgian Truffle Cake Bons, moist chocolate cake balls, covered in candy coating and sprinkles, are just the right size for a Valentine’s treat. Their chocolate-covered St. Patrick’s Day Oreos are over-the-top and will surely be ooo’d and ahhhh’d over at my St. Patty’s day party.

While I’ve come to terms with my lack of talent with beautiful baked goods, I am good at coming up with other home-made, edible ways to bring a little Valentine’s love to the table.  I’ll share those DIY ideas with you in next week’s E.A.T. Blog.

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