Herbed Saltines

A thoroughly contemporary take on the recipe for ‘Souffled Crackers’ that dates back to a 1918 cookbook from Fannie Farmer’s Boston School of Cooking. Also called ‘Ice Crackers’ because before baking, the soda crackers are briefly dipped into ice water! Yes, this is a weird retro recipe but oh so ever worthwhile!

This recipe is so quick and easy
that I'm adding it to a special collection of easy summer recipes
published throughout the summer of 2009.
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Will readers please take it on faith that when I launched 'Summer Easy' that I never once envisioned doctoring saltines with herbs and salt? But I’ve now made these simple almost-homemade crackers four times in ten days, each time to rave reviews and honestly, despite the totally weird technique, they’re just delicious, crispy salty oniony bites.

If taste weren’t enough, there are at least two more reasons to love these crackers.

COST Store-bought crackers are expensive, reaching up to $4 and $5 for a 12-ounce box. Saltines are cheap, a pound box sets me back $1.19.

TEMPTATION If a box of Triscuits sneaks into the house, look out, my will power is lousy. Saltines, not so much. If a box is around, there’s no temptation to down the box in an evening.

ADAPTABILITY This is definitely a concept recipe to play around with, have a little fun with. I loved a recent batch sprinkled a little barbecue rub, a mix of salt, sweet and heat. One version I've yet to try is a cinnamon and sugar sprinkle to create a ‘dessert cracker’ to tip with a bit of cream cheese and a piece of fruit.

ALANNA's TIPS Salt is critical for the crackers, don’t skip or skimp. I’ve experimented with whole wheat saltines too. They need to be soaked a little longer (15 seconds, say) and baked less (20 minutes, say). The plain ol’ crush-em-up for tomato soup saltines remain my preferred starting point. A silicone mat isn’t required unless your baking sheets are prone to sticking.

HERBED SALTINES

Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes 3 dozen crackers, easily halved or doubled
  • Saltines
  • Olive oil
  • Good salt – Maldon, fleur de sel
  • Chopped fresh herbs – chives (my favorite so far), oregano, thyme or rosemary, say

Preheat oven to 400F. Get out a baking sheet; if it’s prone to sticking, line with parchment or a silicone mat.

Fill a large flat bowl with a cup of ice and water to fill. With your hands, submerge four saltines into the ice water for 10 seconds, then arrange flat-side down on the baking sheet about 1/4 inch apart. (Work quickly, the crackers will soften and once they’re in place, can’t be moved.) When the tray is full, lightly brush or spritz the tops with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and chives.

Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp and golden.

SERVING SUGGESTION Best served the same day. The crackers are perfect as is but also are strong enough to use as a snack cracker for a simple hummus or a bean dip, say. I’ve also made tiny cucumber and tomato sandwiches with slivers of cheese.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Five Crackers, assumes 1 tablespoon olive oil: 82Cal; 4g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 447mg Sodium; 11g Carb; 0g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 1g Protein; Weight Watchers 1 point This recipe has been 'Alanna-sized'with reductions in fat and increases in no-calorie, nutrient-rich and flavorful fresh herbs.
My gratitude to Kate from Warm Olives who created at least a one-batch head start by figuring out that the original recipe just wouldn't work, perhaps because today's soda crackers are different than the ones in 1918? The Fannie Farmer recipe soaked the crackers for 20 minutes and soaked them in an entire stick of butter!

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. In 2009, Kitchen Parade celebrates its 50th anniversary with a special collection of my mother's recipes.
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I will confess that at first glance I thought this was a posting for "herbed SARDINES!" Me and my speed -reading! These look fantastic and I plan on trying them. I, unfortunatley, have NO problem downing a sleeve of plain ol' saltines. My favorite comfort food is soup with crackers mashed up together.
 
Jessica -- Now isn't THAT a brilliant idea! I too love sardines!

PS Tomato soup, right? That's the one I remember mashing saltines for, slapping my hands together over the bowl for the last bits of crumbs.
 
Alanna,
I forwarded this recipe to my husband (who works at home in an office behind closed doors). 2 minutes later he popped out and yelled "what, no garlic? Those would be great w/garlic!"
I remember that FF recipe. I used to read a very old cook book that my mom gave me when I was a kid. the recipe was in there and I couldn't figure out how to soak a saltine for 20 minutes either. Maybe they used what was known as Hard Tack.
Anyway, we will try these this evening.
Thanks

Bobbi
 
Hi Bobbi ~ Tell your husband, "Garlic is a GREAT idea!" My next batch shall include it!
 
Finally got to trying this recipe. You all have to remember that crackers were different then than they are now. The 1919 crackers were "common crackers" the kind that came in the big cracker barrel. Try Goya crackers (round and about 2 inches across) that can take the twenty minute soak to see what the original recipe was like.
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna