Just to prove I’m not averse to a savoury bite, here’s some cheese straws I made for book club last Thursday.
I needed something not too fiddly to handle. You know that moment when you’re sitting with a glass of wine in hand, along with your book, and a plate, when someone offers you food and it’s a complicated juggling and balancing act with no table nearby to spill onto? And your frightened you’re going to drop everything on to your host’s pale carpet? Yes, that one.
So, something easy to have with wine, something a little different from crackers and cheese. That’s not to say the crackers and cheese weren’t lovely. In fact, savoury crackers and ripe blue cheese partnered with the most perfect pears were so worthy of a second helping – or was it a third? – someone was possibly counting.
I thought of these. Finger shaped finger food! Perfect.
They were so quick to whizz up in the food processor. Okay, you’ve got to clean up the mess you made after. But you can be like me and swan out the door, cheese straws, wine and book (or should it be book, cheese straws and wine?) in hand, leaving someone else to clean up after me.
For the cheese, I used Mainland’s Vintage – a rich, aged cheddar with a sharp bite and crumbly texture. Description came from the packaging, but really it does taste like that with an additional nutty flavour (or maybe that’s just me?). Added to the rich, buttery pastry, you have a savoury biscuit that’s pretty hard to resist. If you don’t have said cheese, any mature, sharp cheddar or Parmesan can be used.
Cut the biscuits into any old shape you want using knives, biscuit cutters, whatever. You can even cut long strips and then twist them. I cut mine into long strips and left them plain. I patiently measured the pastry into 1cm across by 10cm in length to get a uniform size. But don’t look too closely as I was getting a bit slapdash by the end of this process.
I thought of serving them upstanding in a jar or glass but didn’t have one with a wide enough mouth, so I bundled them up in string-tied parcels and you could just pull one out at a time leaving the rest intact in their little package.
Back home, the dishes had been done and the leftover cheese straws eaten. Job done, time for bed!
Next up: I don’t usually do a preview – mainly because I never know what I’ll be doing next – but next post I’ll be commenting on the inaugural New Zealand Bloggers’ Food Conference which was fantastic and I am still all buzz about it!
Recipe makes approximately 24
125g standard flour
125g mature cheddar cheese, grated
125g very cold butter, grated
½ tsp salt
a small pinch of paprika (or cayenne)
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until mixture just forms a ball. On a lightly floured board, roll out the pastry to about 1cm thick. Cut into desired shapes or strips. Place on a baking tray then chill in the fridge for 10 minutes before baking.
Bake at 200°C for approximately 15-20 minutes until golden-brown. Watch carefully to ensure the biscuits do not burn.
Leave on tray for a few minutes, then carefully remove to a wire tray to cool.
Hint: Keep pastry cool and handle as little as possible.