Cheese Straws – So Nice to Have on Hand

I was recently reading An Affair with a House by Bunny Williams. She talks a good bit about entertaining and say she always keeps cheese straws on hand. She explains that it’s from her southern roots that this is a necessity. I agree whole-heartedly!

For years I have been buying Betsy’s cheese straws, which are the best on the market. I have had the honor of meeting Betsy and just love her! So feel free to use this quick remedy instead of my craziness below!

But a few years ago, my best friend’s daughter got married. For her shower, I really wanted to make my own cheese straws. She says that she loved them, so when I had the honor of giving her a baby shower, a few years later, I made them again. Since then, I make them when the spirit moves me, freeze them, and have them on hand for tea with a friend or to add a little fun in life. They really aren’t hard, just kind of time consuming, and a little labor intensive. For some reason, when I get in a mood to make them, I enjoy the process.

I found a wonderful Cheese Straw recipe by Ms. Edna Lewis.  Here’s the recipe, if you would like to try it.

1 2/3 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/4 t.dry mustard
1 t. salt
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 pound extra sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (2 1/2 cups)
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 T. water

Sift the flour, mustard, salt and cayenne into a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cheese and butter on low speed until well blended. Gradually beat in the flour until completely incorporated. Add the water and beat for 1 minute.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 5 times. On a large sheet of wax paper, roll the dough into a 12-by-9-inch rectangle. Slide the dough onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes.
 
Preheat the oven to 425°. Cut the dough in half crosswise, then cut it into 6-by-1/4-inch strips. Transfer the strips to 2 cookie sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time for about 14 minutes, or until the cheese straws are golden brown and crisp. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
 
Today I took pictures of the tricky parts in case someone else would like to try. I’m going to share the success of it and the failure.
Here is is all rolled out. I only use a table knife and a rolling pin. 
 
Each little slice is one cheese straw. I run the knife under the cut out to pick the piece up. Then twist…
Here is a tray of them ready for the oven.
And since I always worry about rolling things to the right thickness, here is a visualization of that…
I do have rejects. I just pile them up, re-roll them and continue doing that until I am completely tired of this process. Then I make tiny biscuits that my family loves.
And here’s the final result. I’m sure Miss Lewis’ were prettier, but we all do the best we can.
This is a double recipe, which will be enough for a party and then some. The little plate are my rejects that my daughter has been waiting for all morning. If you are doubling the recipe, I found that each time you re-roll the dough, you need to moisten your hands with water to keep the dough from drying out.
If you try this, let me know how it goes for you. Send pictures and I will post them.
 

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