Thursday, 12 January 2012

Cheese Straws




When I first started this blog, I was determined never to write any of those "sorry I haven't blogged for a while" posts. You know the ones, where people trot out a succession of lame excuses for months of silence, all of which ultimately boil down to the fact that they got bored or busy? I always hated those. It felt so presumptuous, as though they assumed that the world was waiting with baited breath for their next momentous utterance, as though they had to apologise to their (possibly single digit) readership for depriving them of the blog's company. No, no, I was never going to do one of them. Never complain, never explain, Kate Moss got that much right.


So rather than explain this unprecedented hiatus at Dine at Mine, or complain about the reasons, I'll offer a quick haiku. 


Post-Christmas torpor
Meets work promotion head on:
Dine at Mine loses.



Right! Let's talk about food, shall we?


 


This is possibly the most inappropriate recipe which I could possibly choose for the start of January. It's ludicrously unhealthy, designed for parties, and perfect as a little unholy smackerel to nibble with something chilled and bubbly. And, of course, I'm not talking about chilled mineral water. Just because everyone abstains from alcohol in January doesn't mean I can't remember the magnum of champagne that featured - among many other bottles - in our New Year's Eve celebrations. Come to think of it, that might be one of the reasons why we're abstaining from alcohol now. I admit nothing.


 


But I'm going to tell you about these anyway, because they were quick, easy and delicious. To be honest, when you're working with puff pastry and cheese the results are always going to be good. But I added poppy seeds and cheese flakes to these cheese straws and they turned out even more delectable than normal - albeit just as unhealthy.


 


Another huge advantage is that they were fun to make, so you could always give them a go under the pretence that they're a sort of craft. That would fulfil any New Year's resolution to get more hobbies. And didn't you also make a resolution to keep your flat tidy? Looks like you'd better eat them up too. Warm from the oven is great - you can, ahem, trust me on that. And you know, if you want to try combining them with a teeny weeny glass of booze? Don't worry, I won't tell. After all, January is a very looooong month.


 


Cheese Straws
- I pack of all-butter ready-made puff pastry
- a good hunk of cheddar (ideally extra-mature, so it has a really strong flavour)
- an egg, beaten
- a few good handfuls of poppy seeds
- dried chilli flakes
Preheat the oven to about 190C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Roll out the puff pastry to a thin rectangle and grate a heavy layer of cheddar on top. Fold the pastry in half and roll again until it's reasonably thin, so that the cheese forms a layer in the middle of the pastry.
Brush beaten egg over the top and scatter with more grated cheese, poppy seeds and a reasonable scattering of chilli flakes. Cut into strips and transfer to the lined baking tray, then twist each end until you've made two or three turns along the length of the straw (this is really much easier to see in the photo than to describe). Keep going with the rest of the strips, positioning them on the baking tray with enough room around each one for them to puff up as they bake. You can pick up any fallen bits of topping and drop them back on top of the straws, but hopefully the egg wash will have helped them to stick in place.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and crunchy. Then either eat immediately (tempting) or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before whacking them in an air tight container. They should last for a few days, and can be gently warmed back to crunchiness in the oven.

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