For some reason, a bag of Cheezies (the real, Hawkins kind – they’re Canadian, did you know?) with some kind of big red wine has become my idea of heaven on a Friday night. (It’s important to have achievable dreams.) It occurred to me awhile ago that I could in fact make something kindasorta similar – I’m not sure revisiting these cheesy bits was altogether a good idea. So I’ve decided to drag you down with me.
Yes, I’m aware that you know about cheese straws already. They were All That in the eighties and are still just as familiar, although most present-day recipes have taken a shortcut with frozen puff pastry dough. Trust me, these are worth tucking back into your repertoire; they’re as easy to mix and bake as a batch of cookies, and can be pulled into service for any occasion for which you are responsible for providing something to nibble on. The dough takes no more than five minutes in a food processor and is freezable – stash a few balls of dough to thaw, roll and bake when a cheese craving hits. (And because your sense of taste has so much to do with your sense of smell, baking them right before you eat them is like food foreplay – the best possible potpourri.)
They also, it turns out, make a great nibble alongside a bowl of soup, if you need a sort of ballast that doesn’t come in the form of a wedge of bread or enormous biscuit. And have you heard what I’m doing this weekend? I thought I was spending it gaining some control of my house / yard / laundry / basement. Nope. It turns out I’m making lunch for Leonard Nimoy, Malcolm McDowell
and Sid Haig. Life is weird sometimes. Leonard requested two soups. I’m making soup for Spock!
For real! No pressure. I’ll get pictures.
These could be made using an aged Gouda, asiago or any firm, flavourful cheese. For a twist, try blitzing a teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary into the dry ingredients in place of the cayenne.
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated old or extra-old cheddar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, chilled and cut into chunks
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch cayenne pepper or paprika (sweet or smoked – optional)
2 Tbsp. milk
Put the cheddar, flour, butter, salt and cayenne into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well combined and crumbly. (If you don’t have a food processor, grate the cheese and toss it with the dry ingredients, breaking it up as much as you can with a whisk, pastry cutter or fork.) Add the milk and pulse until it starts to come together. Remove the dough from the food processor and gather it into a ball. Cover with a tea towel and let rest for about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into an oval or rectangle about 1/8” thick and cut crosswise into strips that are about 1/4” wide using a pizza wheel or sharp knife. (Alternatively, cut the dough into stars or other small shapes.) Transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet and if you like, twist them a few times for dramatic effect. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until pale golden on the ends.
April 23 2010 10:21 pm | appetizers