Monday, January 16, 2012

Savory Inspirations: Snack on Wheels

Since I can remember, my family has loved a good snack.  In fact, we’ve often dedicated entire meals to snack time. New Year’s Day (Christmas Eve this year) has traditionally been where we have foregone dinner in lieu of a variety of small & tasty treats. Among the spread are a variety of cheeses including smoked gouda, cheddar, baked brie and delicious Italian cured meats like prosciutto, salami and soppressata. Our traditional family favorite Table Water Cracker*, olives and smoked oysters round out the “meal,” as we load up our small plates and enjoy great company, conversation and relish each small bite of our savory treats.
Surprisingly, my mom found a new gourmet addition to this year’s menu at our local grocery store which I foresee making an appearance for many occasions to come. Among the spread this year was a small sleeve of wafer like crackers. Golden in color, thin and crispy, the Australian Waterwheel Cracker proved to be a popular addition, giving our beloved water crackers some unanticipated competition. My newfound adoration of the water wheel not only lies in its delicious simplicity, but also in its ability to accompany both savory and sweet snacks. It serves as flavor chameleon, acting as the perfect base for any snack, or as I have recently enjoyed – as a small dessert.

  I nibbled away on water wheels topped with proscuitto, gouda, and goat cheese on Christmas Eve and after the holidays, I immediately sought out to purchase my newly beloved cracker, deciding I would pair it with one of my favorite sweet indulgences – Nutella and strawberries. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon I excitedly opened my sleeve of waterwheels – immediately indulging in a plain cracker or two. I prepared my plate, spreading a moderate amount of Nutella on each water wheel cracker, topping it with a sliced strawberry. 
Photo by L. Carpenter

I brewed a cup of coffee and set out to enjoy my sweet treats on the porch. As my heavenly treat hit my mouth, I am fairly certain the sun started shining brighter and the birds began singing louder. Well, at least that’s what happened in my head. A small plate of six crackers, three plain and three topped proved to be the perfect serving to satisfy my craving. Like my beloved water cracker, I have found that I can enjoy the Australian Water Wheel not only for the taste, but for the guilt free factor due to the simplicity of the recipe. At approximately six calories per two-inch cracker, the water wheel simply satisfies, allowing you to delightfully indulge in its snack potential in moderation. 

*Over the years, our cracker of choice has become the Table Water Cracker. To some this may be a seemingly bland option, with so many other cracker varieties and flavors to choose from. However, the simplicity of the Table Water Cracker makes it a great accompaniment to a savory cheese or meat. In fact, I would argue it is the perfect cracker for any snack, as it does not compete for flavor settling well on the palate. Naturally, the simplicity of the Table Water Cracker boils down to the ingredients, which are flour, water and little to no salt, making it a far healthier and lower calorie snack complement.

Contributed by Lena Carpenter