Monday, September 1, 2014

Smoky Cheese Straws


I've posted a cheese straws recipe before, but this is a bit different. the addition of smoky cheese really makes a difference - the depth of flavor from the smoked cheese is really incredible. I love these as a snack, with soup or even on a platter with charcuterie, cheese and other nibbles when I'm entertaining. These are also great to have around for your kids to enjoy after school or to throw in their lunch boxes. Yum!


Ingredients
1/2 cup (115g) plain flour
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon Coleman's Mustard Powder
3 1/2 tablespoons (55g) unsalted butter
1/4 (55g) cup shredded mild cheddar
1/4 cup (55g) shredded smoked cheddar or other smoked cheese
1 egg, beaten
Sesame seeds
Extra butter for greasing
Extra flour for dusting

Method

1. Put flour, salt and mustard powder into a mixing bowl and whisk together. If you don't have a whisk, a fork will work just fine. This is my method for sifting - I don't even own a sifter.


2. Add the butter. If you have a pastry cutter (pictured above) use it to work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. If you don't have a pastry cutter, you can just use your hands to rub the butter into the dry ingredients.


It should look something like the photo above - crumbly and dry.


3. Add the cheeses.

4. Pour in half of the beaten egg. Set the other half aside to use later.

5. Using your hands, work the egg and cheese into the mixture until it forms a ball of dough.

6. Take the ball of dough out of the bowl and wrap in plastic wrap (aka cling film). Place the wrapped dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or if you're impatient like me, 10 to 15 minutes in the freezer should do it. You just want the dough to get a little bit firm so it's easy to roll out.

7. While the dough is chilling, prepare two large baking sheets. You don't have to use grease-proof paper, but I finds it keeps the baking sheets from getting too dirty so they're super easy to wash afterwards. Whether you're using grease-proof paper or not, grease the surface with the extra butter.

8. Leaving the dough in the fridge or freezer, prepare a rolling space. I prefer using a piece of grease-proof paper to keep the mess at bay, but it's not required. You will however need to dust the surface you're using with flour as well as the rolling pin.

9. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out to about 1/4 inch or about 1/2 cm thickness.

10. With a small knife, slice the dough into strips about 1 cm wide, though you can make these as wide as you like.

11. Transfer the strips to the prepared baking sheets and pinch the sides several times down the length of the straws.

12. Using a pastry brush if you have one, or your fingers if you don't, brush each strip with the remaining beaten egg.

13. Sprinkle the egg coated strips with sesame seeds - use as many or as little as you like. Bake at 400°F / 200°C / Gas Mark 6 for about 10 to 15 minutes or until golden. If using the grease-proof paper, remove the paper with the straws still on to a plate to cool. If not, just let the straws cool on the pan before serving.


If you're lucky enough to have leftovers, store them in sealed plastic container or in a sealed ziplock bag and enjoy munching on them throughout the week!

This recipe will yield about 15 straws, however it's easy enough to double or even triple the recipe if you're entertaining.

Smoky Cheese Straws make a lovely party food and can be made a day or two in advance if you're hosting quite a lot of people. For day-to-day, I find they also make a lovely accompaniment to soups & salads, but sometimes I make them to just have around as a simple snack.


Of course as with anything cheese-related, these little nibbles are quite tasty with a glass of vino and if you're having guests for drinks, they're the perfect finger food to have on hand for providing a bit of soakage. They look great on a plate, but when I'm entertaining, I love to serve them upright in nice glasses, jars or small steel buckets dotted around the room for easy access with pretty little cocktail napkins.
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