Recipes from 'Lidia's Family Table'

Recommended equipment:
1 food processor or hand-held pastry cutter, rimmed baking sheet and parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

It is quickest to mix the crisp in the food processor, fitted with the metal blade. Put the flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt in the work bowl. Process briefly to blend the dry ingredients. Drop in the butter pieces and pulse a dozen or so times, until the butter has been uniformly cut into a sandy powder of small bits. Sprinkle on the water, and process for a couple of seconds only, just to moisten the dough; it should still be rather loose and granular.

To mix by hand, blend the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and cut the butter into the grainy powder with a pastry cutter. Toss the powder and water with a fork to moisten.

Line the baking sheet with the parchment paper. Sprinkle the loose grains of dough evenly – in one layer – in an oval shape about 8 to 12 inches, filling in a any holes and keeping the layer thin; don't compress them.

Bake for about 10 minutes, then rotate back to front, for even heating. The crumbs will have melted together, spread out in a thin layer, and perhaps started to bubble. Bake to another 7 to 10 minuets or more, until the layer is deeply caramelized, golden brown all over (and probably very dark on the edges). It will resemble a giant brown sugar cookie.

Set the pan on a wire rack, and cool until the cookie is very crisp. Cut or break off any burnt edges. Crack the cookie into crispy flakes, an inch or smaller. This is a good size for munching; you can crumble them up a bit more when layering the parfait. Recipe serves 10 or more.

Excerpted from "Lidia's Family Table." Copyright © 2004 by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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