I admit, I am a snack-a-holic. By the time dinner rolls around I have munched my way through any hunger that I might of had for a real meal. Appitizers, chips, crackers are rank high in my book.
When I first came across the recipe for cheese straws it was over at Smitten Kitchen and it was around the holidays. Holidays and parties go hand and hand. The first time that I shared them was at friends birthday party in which they were gone in an a matter of minutes (a double batch mind you) but anything with cheese would have been inhaled by this group of friends that had just spent the day at the mountain.
These really are ultra easy and you most likely have the ingredients on hand. Feel free to tweak the cheese to what ever you have at the time. I have substituted parmesan and even a dill havarti.
The best part about these is the amazing smell that comes from the oven while baking these.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen & The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook
1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
3/4 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon half-and-half (I used cream, because I had it on hand; suspect milk would work just as well)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a food processor, combine the cheese, butter, flour, salt and red pepper in five 5-second pulses until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the half-and-half and process until the dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds.
3. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8- by 10-inch rectangle that is 1/8-inch thick. With a sharp knife (or a pizza or pastry wheel; both worked great), cut the dough into thin 8-inch strips, each 1/4- to 1/3-inch wide (dipping the knife in flour after every few inches ensures a clean cut). Gently transfer the strips to an ungreased cookie sheet (though I lined mine with parchment), leaving at least 1/4-inch between them. The dough may sag or may break occasionally in the transfer, but don’t be concerned — just do your best. The straws can be any length, from 2 to 10 inches.
4. Bake the straws on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the ends are barely browned. Remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool.
5. Serve at room temperature. Cheese straws will keep in the refrigerator, in a sealed container, for two days. They will not last an hour at a party.