We hadn't heard of cheese straws until someone brought them in to work, but we quickly became fans. A long cheddar cracker with a spicy kick -- what's not to like? These are traditionally a Southern snack, but they're so easy and delicious we think they should be an NYC party staple.
That's why we were so excited to see this recipe for them on one of our favorite food blogs, smitten kitchen. We hadn't actually made anything from this blog yet (we mostly just ogled the pictures during our lunch break), but clearly this was a sign to take our relationship with smitten kitchen to the next level (we've since had good luck with her green bean salad).
Adapted from 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 (cream or milk would work just as well)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a food processor (a blender works fine), 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 pizza cutter, 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 it can't hurt to line with parchment), leaving at least 1/4-inch between them. Many of ours broke while trying to transfer, but it's not a problem — 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. Serve at room temperature.