While I love a great pastry for breakfast and occasionally dessert, when it comes to snacks, I tend to land on the side of salty. And while there are a plethora of cookbooks on the market for all things sugary and sweet, the field is much smaller when it comes to savory. Salty Snacks by Cynthia Nims, is a book that feeds America’s love affair with salt.
We are a snacking society – peruse any Trader Joe’s aisle or scan the endcaps of local grocery stores and you’ll find a multitude of brightly colored packages screaming, ‘Quick!’ ‘Easy-to-Prepare!’ ‘Just Open, Pour and Serve!’ ‘Ready in Minutes!’ While I’m all for taking shortcuts wherever I can, most of these items are filled with added salt, sugar and shelf-stabilizing chemicals – and the portion sizes are large enough to feed a third-world country. Add celiac disease and well, finding gluten-free snacks that don’t require signing over your first born can be a real challenge.
‘Salty Snacks’ is filled with 75 easy-to-follow recipes for baked, fried, flatten, sauced and dipped snacks – Herbed Clam Dip, Crisp Beef with Lemongrass, Coconut Crisps with Basil and Chiles, Cumin Lentil Crackers, Popcorn Meringues and seriously – Five-Spice Duck Skin!! All are crowd-pleasers for entertaining, gift-giving, midnight snacks, football season – or whenever you’re craving a savory treat. Many of the recipes are naturally gluten-free or can be adapted quite easily.
The Professor and I enjoyed making quite a few of these tasty snack over the holiday season and shared them with our guests – familiar ingredients with a twist in the addition of a spice or in how the recipe was paired. One of our very favorites are these super easy Parmesan Crisps – the addition of Pink Peppercorns is brilliant here; the floral and fruity flavor of the peppercorns is a wonderful counter to the salty cheese and adds just enough spice. With only two ingredients, it’s well worth the splurge of the best parmesan cheese you can buy.
We may, or may not, have polished off an entire batch all by ourselves . . .
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Salty Snacks at no cost to me; however, all opinions are strictly my own.
PARMESAN-PINK PEPPERCORN CRISPS
Salty Snacks, Cynthia Nims
Makes 12 crisps
NOTE: Pink peppercorns are much softer than their black counterparts making them harder to crush with a regular mortar and pestle. I happen to have one that is deep and made specifically for spices – but you can also use a spice grinder or mini food processor.
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (grated on medium holes of a box grater)
- 1 teaspoon ground pink peppercorns
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees; line baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat and set aside
- In a small bowl, toss together the cheese and peppercorns until blended
- Spoon approximately 1 Tablespoon of the mixture onto the baking sheet, using the back of a spoon to spread it out into an even circle – about 3-inches in diameter; repeat to form 12 circles total
- Bake until just lightly browned around the edges and melted together, 3-5 minutes
- Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before using a metal spatula to carefully transfer to a cooling rack topped with a paper towel OR while still warm, gently drape the crisps around a rolling pin or the side of a small jar to create a curved shape
- Serve within an hour or two or store in an airtight container for up to 2 days