I was recently contacted to participate in the “Legends of Europe” blogger Market Basket Challenge. The contest highlights Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano and Montasio cheeses and Prosciutto di Parma and Prosciutto di San Daniele, which are five PDO (protected designation of origin) products from Europe. The campaign is designed to increase awareness of the products and celebrates the legendary quality, tradition and taste of these five world–renowned PDO products.
I was randomly assigned Montasio cheese which I had absolutely no familiarity with at all, but I was intrigued….how I could, a lover of all things cheese, not have heard of this legendary cow’s milk creation? I got on the phone immediately to see if I could purchase it locally (we have some pretty great specialty markets and cheese shops around here) but that was not to be. I found an online source (www.igourmet.com) and they had it to me within 36 hours, all ice packed and protected from the elements.
The cheese is a nutty, rich, sharp and very tasty hard cheese that is perfect alone, over pasta (I have tried it) and in my delicious little wine crackers, the recipe I will share with you. I also created a fall chutney to bring a little bit of Autumn in New England to my cocktail snack and added to Prosciutto di Parma to add a rich, porky saltiness to the mix….the combination is so wonderful! Because these crackers are so easy to make, you can prepare the dough up to a month in advance and freeze it and you can make the chutney up to five days in advance, wouldn’t this be the perfect appetizer to make ahead share for Thanksgiving or impress your friends and family at a holiday party? I think so!
Montasio Cornmeal Wine Crackers with Prosciutto di Parma
and Autumn Chutney
6 oz Montasio cheese, shredded
½ cup butter salted, softened
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
3/4 cup salted roasted pumpkin seeds, roughly chopped
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine combine Montasio cheese, butter, flour, cornmeal, pepper and thyme. Process until a ball of dough forms. Turn dough out onto floured surface, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and knead in with hands. Divide dough in half, roll into a 12” log and wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice dough on the bias into ¼” crackers, yielding approximately 96 crackers in total. Place crackers on parchment and bake in preheated oven for 9-11 minutes, turning sheets at 5 minutes.
Slide parchment off cooling rack on to a flat surface and allow to cool completely.
For the Autumn Chutney:
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup tart apples (such as Macintosh) peeled and diced
1/8 teaspoon salt
In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and cook over medium low heat until mixture is thick and syrupy and fresh cranberries have popped, about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool and serve with Montasio Cornmeal Wine Crackers
Place 1/2 teaspoon of Autumn Chutney atop Montasio crackers. Add a thin slice of Prosciutto di Parma and a curl of Montasio cheese and enjoy!
Crackers are also wonderful with fresh apples, pears, crispy bacon or all by themselves!