Monday, February 21, 2011

Recipe For Easy Entertaining In Carroll Gardens


Carroll Gardeners Max Kelly, a photographer, and Erin Merhar, a food stylist and recipe developer, have collaborated numerous times on photo shoots in the last few months. The resulting images are always stunning.
Max and Erin have kindly allowed me to post these images from their latest shoot. And below, you will find Erin's recipe for those divine home-made rosemary crackers with sea salt pictured in the photographs.
All ingredients are available locally.

From Erin Merhar:

Since becoming a chef, I’ve also taken on the role of dining consultant for my friends and family. “What should I make for dinner, Erin? I have celery, rice and balsamic vinegar.” This is not an uncommon request.

The question I prefer to get is: “I have to bring an hors d’ouevres to a party. What can I bring that’s EASY and that everyone will love.” I could rattle off any number of dips or miniaturized appetizers, but my best answer is: if you aim to please, do a simple cheese plate.

From my experience with entertaining, an interesting cheese paired with special condiments will grab as many rave reviews as the Vietnamese spring rolls you slaved over for hours. A wedge of gooey, soft-ripened cheese, orange blossom honey—or maybe the pear mostarda that you picked up on your last trip to Italy— with a soft baguette will always do the trick.

For those of you who are still looking to provide your handcrafted touch, here is a simple cracker recipe that might actually be quicker to make than running to a bakery for that baguette.

February 2011 Food Shoot 2985

Homemade Crackers with Rosemary and Sea Salt

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of chopped, fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
1 tsp Maldon, or any other flaky sea salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the flour, kosher salt, black pepper and chopped rosemary and mix until combined. At this point, the dough will be crumbly and a bit dry. Set the mixer on low, then drizzle in just enough heavy cream to make long rectangle, about 1 ½” high, by 2” wide. Rest the formed dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. With a sharp knife, slice the dough into crackers, 1/8-1/4” thick. Place on a cookie sheet, and prick each cracker twice with a fork. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden.

Chef’s Note: The cheese pictured is La Tur, crowd-pleasing a blend of cow, sheep and goat’s milk cheese from the Langhe valley region of Piedmont, Italy. La Tur can be purchased at Union Market at 288 Court St.

February 2011 Food Shoot 2998-1

Erin Merhar is a food stylist, recipe developer and personal chef living in CarrollGardens, Brooklyn. She loves wine, cheese and all things Italian. She can be contacted at or via her website at

Max Kelly is self-taught photographer whose style is at once modern and classic. Through this blend of old and new, he composes a unique perspective of the world around him. He can be reached at or through his website at

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Sue said...

Those pictures are absolutely beautiful! I believe I could make these crackers and I'm up to giving it a try.

Katia said...

Hi Sue,
I'll be sure to pass the compliment on to Max and Erin.
I think I'll make a batch of these myself. I am more of a cook than a baker, but I think I can manage this recipe.

Anonymous said...

I want to reach right into the photo and feed my craving for those delicious looking crackers!

birdy said...

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