Friday, December 18, 2009

Cheese Straws. Party time!

Contrary to my popular opinion, one can eat too many cookies and homemade candies in a short period of time. This happened to me this week after the toffee/fudge therapy session and an open house we helped host. I developed a serious sugar overload and when faced with a Christmas party with the lovely women at our church there was one thing I knew for sure. A salty treat was desperately needed. My search began and ended with one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen. Deb cooks fabulous food in her tiny New York City kitchen during her new son's nap times. She whips up some great and interesting dishes and her photography is beautiful. As I perused her appetizer recipe list I saw a post about cheese straws. I read the recipe, I copied it down on a handy notecard, I walked to the kitchen and dug out the food processor, I mixed, I dumped, I kneaded, I rolled, I ... well you get the point. My quest for a salty/savory snack was triumphantly fulfilled with a basket of crunchy, cheesy, surprisingly fast cheese straws. With a few simple ingredients you too can make cheese straws for your party or family or yourself. Just try not to eat them all before the party. It wouldn't be nice.

Cheese Straws
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
4 ounces of sharp cheddar, shredded or chopped (I used 2 ounces cheddar and 2 ounces parmesan. That's what I had)
4 T softened butter
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons cream or milk

Put all the ingredients except the cream or milk in a food processor. Blitz for 5 second bursts, 5 or six times until the cheese and butter is finely chopped. Pour in the cream or milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture holds together in a rough mass. You should be able to press a clump and it hold together. Dump the dough out on a floured surface and lightly knead to smooth out the dough. Roll the dough with a rolling pin, flouring it as you need to so it won't stick.
Try to roll it out perfectly straight like I did. Just kidding, I cut the edges with a knife so they would be straight. You want a rectangle about 6 to 8 inches wide and 12 or 14 inches long. I rolled it out on an awesome canvas cloth that my mom bought me. You flour it and use it for rolling out pie dough or cookies, anything really. I love it.

After you get it rolled out, just cut into strips and bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. I got all fancy and used the wavy side of my pastry wheel but you could cut them out with a knife just as easily. If the dough sticks while you are cutting, dust it with some flour and keep on cutting. They are quite brittle after they break so be careful when you are taking them off the baking sheet. If one breaks then you should probably eat it, one would hate to be tacky and serve broken cheese straws. That could really damage your reputation.

The more I think about it, the possibilities abound with this recipe. They would be fabulous with chopped pecans thrown in or with a little blue cheese or maybe some feta. This definitely needs some exploring! Happy baking!


stitching under oaks said...

sounds like a great addition to any party table...and I love anything cheesy! (well, cheese tasting!) Have a Merry Christmas...beware of the bon bons!

Kristin said...

I want to make these just so I can get one of those wheely things. Too fun! Those look scrumptious!