Or, Why Didn't I KNOW This One Would Be A Dud?
I was given a spoofy, retro cocktail-
snacks cookbook a few years ago. Shocking, lime-green cover, witty and compelling writing, and best of all, a set of novelty cocktail skewers included in the binding of the book.
Alarm bells should have gone off. This was a gimmick!
Ahh, I probably knew that all along. But, see, I was captivated by one recipe in the book. Every time I picked up the book, I'd flip the pages to see if that recipe still turned me on.
And it did. It was a version of the classic canapé known as Cheese Coins or Cheddar Pennies: a sort of shortbread made with grated cheese, flour, butter, salt and cayenne. But this groovy "ironic" version included — whoa — a whole envelope of Lipton's Onion Soup Mix. Imagine the flavor, I thought. Real cheese and butter, and the exotic sting of forbidden processed soup dust.
It wasn't until this weekend's Retro Blog Party that I gave the recipe a try. I mixed the ingredients, but they didn't hold together well. I added a few spoonfuls of water, same as I would do for a pie crust.
After a night in the fridge, the dough was as hard as a chunk of chain-store cheddar, and when I tried to roll it out, it disintegrated into dirt clods.
I added a few more spoonfuls of water, allowed it to soften at room temperature, and then rolled the dough into a cylinder. It was too soft to slice into disks at this point, so it spent another night in the fridge.
Today it was sliceable, but not very cooperative. The center of the log had fissures, and some of the rounds were partially hollow. And when I baked the ugly little crackers, they browned on the bottom and stuck to the baking sheet. I flipped as many as I could (some broke) and finished them upside-down — all together, twice as long in the oven as the recipe called for.
Then we ate them. There was a taste of uncooked flour, and the texture was puny, grainy, crumbly. (The uncooked flour taste dissipated as the crackers cooled; lessons for an infrequent baker, I guess.)
Cranky said I should have known the instant I read "1 envelope Lipton's Onion Soup Mix" in the recipe that it would be a disaster. I disagree, but what it should have tipped me off to is that the recipe would Need Water. That fakey onion soup powder is, first of all, about 50% salt (forgive me if my math is off). Second, it's adulterated by food starch. Third, there are Dehydrated Onions in it. The whole envelope is just dying for a drink!
It's unfortunate that some fly-by-night publishers will put out a cookbook without kitchen-testing the recipes.
I think I could salvage this one by tinkering with it. But I'm not gonna bother.