Ah, the cheese straw. Has a mixture of cheese, flour, butter, salt, and red pepper flakes ever been so tasty? I honestly could eat cheese straws and cheese straws alone for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy. Perfectly house-sized, but happy.
They’re definitely a uniquely Southern concoction, I’ve come to learn; I don’t think I’ve been to a bridal shower, bridesmaids luncheon, tea, or rush party where cheese straws didn’t make an appearance. Thick or thin, piped with a pastry bag or cut with a knife, they’re a standby at such occasions for a reason—they’re addictive like no other snack can possibly be.
I don’t think I’ve ever had homemade cheese straws, much less made my own. My mom is a firm believer in “Why make your own when you can get them at Henri’s?” (Or buying Geraldine’s.) The perk of making your own, however, is that you can eat as many as you want and not feel bad. Well, not too bad, anyway. This recipe appeared on one of my favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen; my only advice is to make at least two batches, because one just isn’t enough.
Also, I got a little carried away with the photos on this one, so just bear with me.
See, I wasn’t kidding about getting carried away. But I just think that everyone should see how cute my little packet of red pepper flakes is!
1 1/2 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cut into four pieces
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp half & half
Preheat oven to 450º.
In a food processor, combine cheese, butter, flour, salt, and red pepper using five 5-second pulses, until the mixture resembles course crumbs.
Add the half & half and process until the dough forms a ball—about 10 seconds.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into an 8×10 rectangle, 1/8 inch thick. Cut into thin strips with a knife or pizza cutter. (I like my cheese straws shorter and fatter, so really you can cut them into whatever shape you like. Not too thick, though, or they won’t bake evenly.) Also, check out my lack of a rolling pin—this is what you call resourcefulness, folks. Good thing LB and I polished off that mega-bottle of pinot grigio the other night!
Transfer the straws onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for 12-15 minutes. When you remove them from the oven, make sure to take some pictures of them on the table by your kitchen window; that way your neighbors walking by can look at you like you’re a weirdo for photographing your food, and you can smile uncomfortably back at them. Hi Steve!
Seriously, though. Make at least two batches of these, because by the time I put them in a plastic container to take to the lake this weekend, I’d already eaten at least 5 of them. Resistance is futile!