Last month our building had a holiday apartment crawl inspired by the book, The Selby Is in Your Place. Going in & out of your willing neighbours apartments to hang out and get neighbourly with just the appropriate amount of snooping is actually super fun. Making crafts, listening to someone play the piano or decorating Christmas cookies at each stop is even better. For our stopover, we made vintage cocktails for everyone (strong boozy drinks are always a charmer) and of course I made snacks too. Somehow after drinking a bit too much mulled wine at previous apartment hops I forgot that I had a plateful of devilled eggs in the fridge to serve alongside the cocktails. No matter because I did not forget about the cheese straws. Cheese Straws people!! These get the capitol letter treatment because, my god, they were really freakin’ delicious. Not to mention ridiculously easy to make too.
See that cheese? That’s the good stuff. Premium aged Cheddar. Five year old, award winning cheese. Hooray!
If you need a nudge to get a food processor, let this be the recipe to convert you. It’s kind of amazing how easy these were to pull together. Just a whizz-bang of flour, cheese, butter, aleppo pepper and milk and the dough is ready to roll. Ideally, the key to perfect straws is to roll out a perfect rectangle. I’m not sure how one does that (see above). Perfectly shaped cheese straws? Who needs ‘em. My homey, rustic cheese straws were amazing as is, thank you very much.
Use the squat, ragged ends as “testers”. Or just serve them. Trust me, no one will mind.
The real magic happens when they bake. Thanks to all that butter and cheese, don’t just end up golden brown and crispy, but they’re also quite puffy and light! These crackers are a class act all the way.
Let’s recap. Puffy, easy to bake, cheesy and a hint of spice. Serve them in mason jars! These will disappear quickly so you might think about making another batch. Whatever party or gathering you make them for will be better off because of it.
elsewhere: Check out Poppytalk this week for my recipe for a quick pasta & lemony brussels sprouts dish. It’s a perfect weeknight meal.
Use a really good extra sharp Cheddar cheese for these. Using your standard waxy Cheddar isn’t going to cut it. Go for the good stuff.
(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
1 1/2 c grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
4 T unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
3/4 c flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t aleppo or crushed red pepper flakes
1 T milk
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a food processor, combine the cheese, butter, flour, salt and red pepper in quick 5-second pulses until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add in milk and process until the dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds.
On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle that is 1/8″ thick, or there abouts. With a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut the dough into 1/4″ to 1/3″ wide strips. Gently transfer the strips to a silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/4″ between each straw. You’ll have an assortment of different height straws which is all part of the charm. If some break during transferring to the sheet, that’s okay too, just do your best.
Bake the straws on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the ends are barely browned. Remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool. Serve at room temperature. You can keep these in the fridge, but why bother, they’ll be eaten immediately. Guaranteed.