Last Thursday evening I went to my first cookbook signing. I had only been to one other book signing and that was the poet Billy Collins three years ago (he drew a birthday cake in my book when I told him it was my birthday). This time the honored author was Heidi Swanson, a San Francisco food blogger (see her blog: 101 Cookbooks) who had just published her second cookbook, Super Natural Every Day, a companion to her first book Super Natural Cooking. As you can guess from the name, Heidi Swanson’s creed is to cook with natural, fresh, local and in-season ingredients. I didn’t even realize that Heidi Swanson was a vegetarian until a friend pointed it out to me—her food looked so wholesome and appetizing that I didn’t even miss the meat.
Now this wasn’t just a cookbook signing; it was also a potluck. Attendees were encouraged to bring a food dish from one of Heidi Swanson’s recipes or something of their own creation. I’ve culled her online recipe archives several times, and it was delightful to taste recipes I’d only seen online: soba noodle salad, millet muffins, Breton buckwheat cake, rosemary olive oil cake. I brought Chili Lime Tequila Popcorn, which had exciting flavors but could have used a little longer in the oven to dry completely. If I can master it, this popcorn will definitely become a party staple for me.
On Monday I made Heidi Swanson’s Olive Oil Crackers. These are super simple to make, though it does take a bit of time to roll out the dough, cut shapes and bake in small batches. The fun thing about these crackers is that you can top them with whatever seeds, spices or cheese you like. I made Cumin Cayenne, Salt & Pepper and Parmesan, Pepper, Lemon Zest crackers. You wouldn’t guess it from looking at these crackers, but they’re actually half whole wheat. Using white whole wheat and semolina flour maintains a light texture and color, while olive oil gives them a crispness to rival any other cracker. The crackers were delicious served with our log of goat cheese rolled in blueberries and cinnamon and are an ideal accompaniment for pre-dinner wine and cheese. Next I’d like to try a recipe for a hearty afternoon snack cracker, maybe the oat cracker recipe on 101 Cookbooks. Anyone else bake their own crackers or have suggestions for a favorite cracker recipe?