It's Crunch Time!

Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference. Nowhere is that more true than in the kitchen. Things like choosing the right peppercorn for a recipe; sprinkling a little Fleur de Sel on top of warm bread just before serving, or adding a few drops of orange oil to hummus can make a big difference when it comes to both presentation and flavor. You’ve probably developed your own techniques – and employed some amazing products in the process – that set you apart as an accomplished Home Chef. To be truthful, at MorningStar Kitchen, these techniques have almost come to define us. Of course they make a big difference in the flavors we create. But more importantly, they enhance the whole dining experience.

If you’re like me, you probably devote most of your time and attention to the “main event” in any given meal. Sometimes I do this at the expense of things like the appetizers. While I do spend a lot of time creating pestos, aiolis, tapenades, spreads, and the like so that I’m prepared for guests when they arrive, I often forget about the “platform” for these wonderful creations. By that, I mean breads, croustinis, and crackers.

Ahh, yes. The beloved cracker! You know, those things your loved ones like to crumble into the soup or chili you’ve spent hours creating? Yep. I guess that right there is probably why I’m so forgetful when it comes to crackers!

But not so long ago, life changed dramatically for me, in a “cracker” sort of way. I was at a Farmer’s Market in Florida and discovered the most amazing cracker that one of the cheese mongers was selling – a Cashew and Rosemary Crisp from a company called 2s Company. They were so wonderful that I bought several boxes. (They were particularly great topped with a slice of goat cheese!) It didn’t take long for us to polish them off; and once they were gone I tried to find them again, but to no avail. I searched far and wide – called specialty stores in the area, checked out the company website along with other gourmet sites online, etc. But I just couldn’t find them.

Now I’m pretty adventurous in the kitchen. I love making my own croustinis, cocktail biscuits, and pita chips. But let's face it. I don't always have time for these when I’m making a meal for a crowd.

So after my Cashew and Rosemary Crisp experience, I decided it would be a good idea to stock up on some specialty crackers and have them on hand when my guests arrive. But they can’t be just any old cracker. They have to be something extraordinary, or else for me, crackers just aren’t worth the trip.

What I’ve learned is that the right cracker can set the stage for a whole meal. If your guests are “wowed” by the cracker, they’re going to love what’s on top of it. They’re going to look forward to what follows. They’re going to be predisposed to an amazing experience. And when the meal is over, they’re going to remember how you attended to every single detail – right down to the cracker! They’ll be convinced that you’re a culinary hero!

Today I always have a great selection of crackers on hand. Some of them have become Signature items for me. I may not use them, because as I said, I do enjoy making some of my own chips and croustinis. But I have learned that my guests really do appreciate a good cracker when I serve it. I’ve accomplished my purpose of serving something special, and they’ve left remembering a great meal!

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