Saturday, June 15, 2013

Caesar’s Sables and Warm Olive Tapenade with Preserved Lemon

If I plan to serve dip at a party, it’s always homemade. And, when I start thinking about what kind of dip to make, my next thought is that I really should make the crackers too. I have a recipe or two here and there for flatbreads that work with dips, but I didn’t have a good reference for a variety of crackers until now. Crackers and Dips by Ivy Manning, of which I received a review copy, will solve all my future party snack dilemmas. With each cracker recipe, there’s a suggested dip or two to go with it. Corn Bread Crisps with Tangy Roasted Tomatillo and Avocado Dip sounds like a great match, and so does Black Pepper Taralli and Trieste-Style Crab Gratin. There are crackers with simpler flavors like Soda Water Crackers that work well as shy vehicles for toppings and some like Brown Butter-Hazelnut Crackers that draw more attention to themselves. There are even dessert crackers like Rosemary Graham Crackers and Animal Crackers with Zesty Lemon Frosting, and I ordered some little animal-shaped cutters just so I could try these. The first recipe I wanted to taste from the book was Caesar’s Sables which capture all the big flavors of a Caesar salad in a neat, little cracker. Serving suggestions for them included using them as croutons on a Caesar salad or as an accompaniment to Warm Olive Tapenade with Preserved Lemon. They were great both ways. 

The dough for the crackers is just like that for refrigerator cookies. In fact, you can keep the dough wrapped and refrigerated and just slice and bake some crackers as you need them rather than making them all at once. Flour, grated parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon zest, finely chopped garlic, and salt were pulsed in a food processor. Anchovy paste is an optional ingredient, and I added it because I love the extra hit of umami from anchovies. So, the anchovy paste was added with some water, and the mixture was pulsed until the dough came together. The dough was divided in half, and each was kneaded and rolled into a long cylinder. The dough cylinders were wrapped in plastic and chilled for a couple of hours. Meanwhile, I made the tapenade which was started by sauteing finely chopped shallot and garlic, and fresh thyme. Then, chopped pitted Castelvetrano green olives, pitted Kalamata black olives, and finely chopped preserved lemon were added and warmed. The tapenade can be stored in the refrigerator and re-warmed before serving. The cracker dough cylinders were sliced into thin circles, the circles were topped with freshly ground black pepper, and then baked for about 15 minutes until browned and crunchy. 

These peppery, parmesany, and slightly lemony crackers with the tapenade were great with drinks for a pre-dinner snack. And, I love that I don’t have to fret about what I could possibly make to go with dip ever again. I just have to decide which combo to try next. 

Caesar’s Sables  
Recipes reprinted with publisher’s permission from Crackers and Dips.

Everyone loves Caesar salad. So what if you could fit all the savory, salty flavor of that brilliant salad into a little crumbly cracker? Caesar lovers everywhere, rejoice: here is your cracker! These rich crackers are similar to the French pastry/cookies called sables [sah-BLAY], which means “sandy,” and as the name advertises, these crackers have a sandy, crumbly texture and they’re very rich, thanks to an ample dose of lemon olive oil. The dough can be made up to three days in advance, so they’re perfect for entertaining; just slice and bake when needed. Try them with a dab of Warm Olive Tapenade with Preserved Lemon, eat them by the handful, or use them as a garnish for Caesar salads as a sort of overgrown crouton. Whatever the application, they’re tres delicieux. 


2 cups/255 g unbleached all-purpose flour 
1 cup/115 g grated Parmesan cheese (firmly packed) 
1/2 cup/120 ml lemon-infused olive oil, or extra-virgin olive oil 
1 tbsp finely grated organic lemon zest 
1 garlic clove, finely chopped 
1 tsp fine sea salt 
1 tbsp chopped anchovies (about 6 small fillets) or 1 tbsp anchovy paste (optional) 
1/4 cup/60 ml water 
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 

In a food processor or large bowl, pulse or mix the flour, cheese, olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, and salt until well combined and crumbly. Add the anchovies (if using) and water. Pulse or stir until the mixture becomes crumbly and begins to stick together, 15 pulses (do not overmix), stopping once to scrape the sides of the bowl. 

Turn half of the dough out onto a 16-in-/40.5-cm-long piece of plastic wrap and squeeze and gently knead the dough to form it into an 8- to 9-in-/20- to 23-cm-long log that is about 1 1/4in/3.5 cm in diameter. Roll up the log in the plastic wrap and roll on the work surface under your palms to make a uniform cylinder. Repeat with the other half of the dough and another piece of plastic wrap. Chill the logs in the refrigerator until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. 

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/gas 4. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Unwrap the logs and use a sharp, thin-bladed knife to cut the logs crosswise into 1/8-in-/3-mmthick slices using a gentle sawing motion. If any crumbly bits break off while slicing, press them into the cracker and shape with your fingers into a round. Arrange the slices 1 in/2.5 cm apart on the baking sheets and sprinkle them with the pepper. If any of the crackers were sliced too thickly, use your fingers to press them out until they are of the same thickness as the others. 

Bake until the crackers are golden brown around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Rotate the pans once from top to bottom and from back to front while baking. Transfer the crackers to a cooling rack. Once cool, store the crackers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. 

Warm Olive Tapenade with Preserved Lemon 

Cold olives leave me cold. You can marinate them, stuff them, or purée them into a tapenade, but if they’re cool, I’m bored to tears. Warm olives are another matter. Applying just a little heat to olives transforms them into a fruity, sensuous pleasure. For this warm olive tapenade, I use a mix of meaty, bright green Castelvetrano olives (find them at olive bars or in jars at better markets) and brinier kalamata olives to achieve a balance of sweet, salty, fruity, and bitter flavors. This warm dip goes splendidly with the Caesar’s Sables, the Smoked Almond Thins, and the buttery Macadamia Nut and Coconut Flour Club Crackers. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, so it’s a great homemade holiday gift; consider making a double batch so you can share the warm olive love. 

MAKES 1 1/2 CUPS/360 ML 

1 cup/160 g pitted Castelvetrano green olives 
1/2 cup/80 g pitted kalamata black olives 
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
1 shallot, finely chopped 
1 garlic clove, finely chopped 
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme 
1 tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon 

In a food processor, pulse all the olives until they form a chunky paste the consistency of granola, or mound them on a cutting board and chop with a sharp chef’s knife. 

In a small saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic, and thyme and saute until the shallot is tender and the garlic is fragrant but not browned, 1 minute. Add the chopped olives and preserved lemon and cook, stirring frequently, until the olives are hot to the touch, 3 minutes. Transfer the tapenade to a serving bowl and serve immediately. (Once cool, the tapenade can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Rewarm in a small saucepan or in the microwave before serving.) 

I am a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program.


  1. A wonderful combination! Those sablés are fantastic and really love that tapenade.



  2. That sounds like a book I need to have...:) I love to have a variety of dips but yes, sometimes I am falling back to the same old recipes I've used time and time again so some new ones never hurt and those crackers sound awesome!

  3. Tapenade and crackers? This is so classy and gourmet :D


  4. Thanks for sharing these recipes, Lisa. I never make crackers yet it has long been something I have wanted to start doing. And dips! Why don't I do this more often? I love the idea of this book and the recipes sound as great and tasty as the two you have posted. I will definitely be looking at it!

  5. I like to make my own dips too. These would be lovely served with drinks. This is a great use for preserved lemons and I have so many jars of them at the moment xx

  6. A lovely combo, Lisa. I too enjoy making my own dips and sauces.

  7. Sounds like the most beautiful flavours of the Mediterranean. I'm sure I would find these very addictive!

  8. Sounds like a terrific cookbook! Mrs K R and I have been playing around with making our own crackers, but haven't yet developed a recipe we really like. Although the dips we have under control! Really nice recipe - thanks.

  9. I have seen this new cookbook and wondered if it was something I would actually use. Thank you for your thoughtful review and recipe testing!

  10. What a great post! I haven't made my own crackers, but it's tempting when I see a delicious post like this.

  11. I think I will HAVE to get this book! Love making my own crackers but haven't done that often enough

    the whole combination of flavors in this dip and crackers is outstanding!

  12. These look so great and love the combination of flavours. Awesome!

  13. Thank you Lisa for the cracker recipe and what a great combination with your delicious Tapenade!

  14. These are absolutely wonderful appetizers or snacks for gatherings and parties. :) I love how easy these are too. :) Thanks for sharing.

  15. I think that I'd park myself right next to the plate of these at a party. I love sable biscuits and these look fantastic!

  16. This book is going straight to my wishlist! I never know what to serve as an easy fun appetizer at parties but this is perfect! you dont' have to do hardly any thinking...just a lot of cracker making. which I am So down wish.

  17. how clever and classy! i never gave cracker-making much thought, and that was a terrible mistake. :)

  18. I love how easy these sables are to make - and the flavors! I can't wait to try them, Lisa!

  19. Wow, Lisa, that tapenade looks fabulous. And so does the cookbook. I've made several savory crackers....Ina recipes...and loved them. Everyone is always so impressed, but it makes me smile, cause I keep a roll of them in the freezer to slice and bake when unexpected company arrives. Ditto with these.

  20. I love sables but have only tried sweet ones until now.
    These deliciously flavored salty sablés are on my to do list.
    I'm sure they taste greate together with a nice glass of wine :)

  21. this book sounds right up my alley - I definitely need to get a copy! the tapenade and crackers sound absolutely delicious!

  22. Oh Lisa, these sables sounds delicious, mu mouth is watering just by reading the ingredients in it. And yes delicious paired with the tapenade.
    Have a great week :D

  23. I love these sables and this olive tapenade looks so delicious. Lovely, gorgeous!

  24. What a great appetizer! I love olive tapenade, but have yet to take on making it myself. This recipe sounds like a winner.

  25. Muy lindos y bien hechos me encantan,hugs.

  26. Great appetizer that's filled with wonderful flavors :)

  27. I'm so excited about this book. I love Ivy, love her recipes. She is one of my cookbook heroes. Can't wait to dive in!

  28. You are so dedicated Lisa. I love all elements of this! I have lots of olives in the fridge at the moment and this will be perfect :)


Blogging tips