I used to think ordering wine at a restaurant could define me, until I was caught underage drinking at 19. I ate cornichons at the Chateau Marmont one summer and wondered if this was a beginning or an erasure of my upbringing. Who was I to be anyone but myself—how dare I? Go to law school, drive a Nissan, knock down a spider’s web that covered the porch of our rental. I wanted so badly to be someone else; I thought I was for three long years in California.
And now I am back home and the memory of who I was remains foggy in memory. But that’s what happens when you live in fiction. I hardly eat out anymore; instead, I make small snacks and graze throughout the day. My mother likes to make casseroles. I ate three nectarines because I was lazy one morning. I wasn’t myself then and now I’m too much of myself now, I get exhausted. So I don’t bake, try to keep the oven off. I make small meals and take nothing for granted.
I made one such meal this week—local pickles, local olives, homemade crackers, and fresh and delicate goat cheese. A meal I would have spent $30 on when I was trying to create memories in California and a meal I will gladly allow to reify my Appalachian existence today.
Goat Cheese Platter with Homemade Flatbread Crackers
Makes four large flatbread crackers that can be broken up into portions. Adapted from here.
Ingredients for crackers:
- 2 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon rosemary or thyme, or a mixture of both (fresh and diced)
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 ½ TB honey
- 3 TB flavorless oil
- ½-3/4 cup ice wate
- In a food processor, pulse together flour, herbs, salt, pepper, honey and oil until well combined
- With the motor running, add your water slowly until a ball begins to form
- Dump dough out onto a floured work surface and knead a few times with floured hands to shape into a disc
- Quarter the disc with a sharp knife and shape these quarters into discs
- Wrap each in plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for an hour
- While dough is resting, preheat oven to 450*F and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper
- When dough is done resting, remove one disc and, with a floured rolling pin and a marble board (if you have it), roll disc as thinly as you can get it. We’re talking millimeters here
- Gently transfer dough to your parchment paper and sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper
- Repeat with a second disc
- Bake these two first. You will most likely have to use two racks.
- Bake on one side for 4 minutes then remove from oven. Flip crackers so the uncooked side is exposed and replace in oven on opposite racks for an even cooking. Bake for 3-5 minutes on this side (these are so thin and with the shifting oven temperatures one disc may bake faster than the other—check on them at the 3 minute mark, as they will burn quickly)
- Remove from oven, allow to cool on your work surface
- Repeat with remaining two discs
- When all are cooled, break up to whatever size you’d like to enjoy with your platte
Assembling your platter: This is the fun part. Grab your most favorite goat cheese (mine is, of course Vermont Creamery’s) and top with a generous helping of honey or comb honey—the more flavor the better. Sprinkle a little fresh black pepper over this. Next, enjoy your cheese and crackers with various small bites. I did spicy habanero pickles, an assortment of kalamata and green garlic olives, and fresh red grapes. I would also recommend a robust or smoky cheddar, an apple butter or jam, or make it interesting with cubed watermelon and a drizzle of balsamic and blackberry juice reduction.