For a native of the American South, I discovered cheese straws remarkably late in life. I was all of 18 years old when they were introduced to me, and it was love at first bite.
In the decades since then, the many wonderful attributes of cheese straws have made them one of my top go-to appetizers. They’re quick and easy to prepare. Their main ingredients — cheese, flour, and butter — are kitchen staples for many of us and always on hand in the fridge and pantry. They are ideal make-ahead appetizers. Baked and stored in an airtight container at room temperature, they retain their flavor and crispness for two to three days. In addition, cheese straw dough can be frozen for up to one month and baked when needed. Oh, and did I mention that they are delicious and the first thing to disappear on the party buffet table?
Although cheese straws are traditionally made with very sharp cheddar cheese, I have aimed for an Italian flavor twist in this recipe. Here parmesan cheese, fresh rosemary, and a touch of garlic lend a different flavor note to this much loved appetizer.
1/2 cup unbleached flour
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup butter, chilled and sliced
1 small garlic clove, peeled and sliced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- Combine the flour, cheeses, butter, garlic, cayenne, mustard powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are blended to the consistency of coarse crumbs.
- Add the yogurt and balsamic vinegar. Pulse until the mixture forms a ball. Add the rosemary and pulse a couple more times until it is incorporated. Chill the dough, wrapped, for 30 minutes or more.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, cut to fit.
- On a sheet of parchment or wax paper, roll out the chilled dough to a level 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick rectangle of about 6 inches in width. Using a long knife, dipped in flour, cut the dough into thin strips, as shown in the above photo, and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for approximately 14-16 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Cool to room temperature on cake racks and serve. This recipe can be doubled.