Author of Salty Snacks, Cynthia Nims, studied cooking at La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine and has authored or coauthored thirteen cookbooks, including Gourmet Game Night, Memorable Recipes, and Rover’s. She is the former editor of Simply Seafood magazine and food editor for Seattle Magazine, and she contributes to Cooking Light, Coastal Living, and Sunset. She and her husband live in Seattle, Washington, where she can be found whipping up salty snacks and other delicious delights. Cynthia was kind enough to tell us about the “light bulb” moment that led to Salty Snacks.
I’ve written a number of books over the years and they’ve been inspired by a range of factors, from a desire to share my passion for Northwest foods to working with chefs to bring their recipes and stories into home kitchens.
But my latest cookbook was different. Salty Snacks grew from what I think of as a “light bulb” moment. With the utmost respect to my cookbook author colleagues who focus on cookies and other sweet treats, for this fan of savory flavors it just seemed that those of us with a salty—not sweet—tooth were getting short shrift.
“So many cookie cookbooks,” I thought to myself. “Why not a cracker cookbook?” Ding. Light bulb.
Bacon-Chive Bread with Goat Cheese
Why not, indeed. Why do we grow up becoming comfortable in the kitchen by helping mom stir walnuts into the brownie batter, or helping to cut stars and dinosaurs from a sheet of sugar cookie dough? But rarely, if ever, as kids (or later in life, for that matter), do we make a batch of crackers or chips at home the way we make snickerdoodles or Rice Krispie treats. We don’t think twice about whipping up a loaf of banana bread but seldom consider a savory alternative (such as a savory bread speckled with bacon, chives and goat cheese).
So I wanted to contribute a small collection of savory, salty, and crunchy treats to help bridge that gap. You might be surprised how quickly you can make a batch of cracker dough: just a handful of ingredients—flour, water, olive oil perhaps, salt and other seasonings—stirred together. That’s it! Rolling them out can be done by hand like for cookies, but I turn to a favorite snack-friendly tool: my pasta machine. Feeding the dough through those roller settings perfectly sizes it lickety-split.
Mustard Soft Pretzels
One of the quintessential salty snacks is the beloved soft pretzel. My twist (sorry, couldn’t help the pun) was to add grainy mustard to the dough, instead of just serving it alongside for dipping. There’s really nothing better than a freshly-made pretzel: soft, chewy, still warm from the oven, and sprinkled with flaky salt to brighten the flavor.
Oh, and those Rice Krispie treats? Raise your hand if you still harbor a child-like hankering for them now and then. I couldn’t resist playing around with the idea in a savory context, incorporating curry powder, coconut, pumpkin seeds and, of course, a pinch of salt. I turned the tables on some other typically-sweet treats too, such as peanut butter cookies, chocolate cookies and even the thumbprint cookie, with rich Parmesan-embellished dough accented by savory tomato sour-cherry jam.
“I hope the book helps broaden your horizons for home-baked treats to include more from the savory-salty realm.”
I hope the book helps broaden your horizons for home-baked treats to include more from the savory-salty realm. Not only is it fun and satisfying to make crackers, chips, and other salty snacks at home, but it’s a great way to play around with those different types of artisan salts on your kitchen counter. Try different spices, cut them in different shapes, you can really customize your snacks in myriad ways, making them a refreshing and delicious change from what you find in the snack aisle of the grocery store.
Parmesan Thumbprint Cookies with Tomato Tart Cherry Jam
GIVEAWAY: Win a copy of Cynthia’s Salty Snacks by telling us, in the comments field below, what your favorite salty snack is. We will pick a winner Monday, October 1. Good luck!