Eighteen years ago, Mark Bittman published “How to Cook Everything.” His new cookbook, “How to Bake Everything,” features 90 “last-minute” recipes that take 30 minutes or less to complete. One of them is this recipe for cheese straws, which Bittman lists as one of his favorite snacks to munch on. To give this southern classic a seasonal Thanksgiving twist, try substituting Gruyère for cheddar and add fresh sage. Serve them before you bring the turkey and sides to the table. Your guests won’t be able to resist!
If you prefer cheese twists, Bittman says simply twist the ends of each strip into a spiral before baking.
Yield: Makes about 2 pounds or approximately 4 dozen cheese straws, depending on the size and shape.
8 oz cheddar or other medium-hard, flavorful cheese (Gruyère is also good)
5 oz Parmesan cheese
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick butter, chilled and cut into chunks
A pinch of cayenne (optional)
A few drops of ice water if necessary
Coarse salt, to taste (optional)
Prepare the mixture: Grate the cheeses by hand or in a food processor and transfer to a bowl. Combine the flour, cayenne (if using) and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. (You can also combine the ingredients in a bowl and use your fingertips to mix gently). Then add the grated cheese and pulse or mix until combined.
Work the dough: Turn the dough out onto your work surface and knead a few times by hand, just until it comes together. You can add a few drops of ice water at a time if the dough is too crumbly. Then wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before you plan to start to work it. Meanwhile, cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit the size of your baking sheet. Lightly flour the parchment paper on your work surface.
Make the straws: On the parchment paper, roll the dough out to a rectangle, about ¼-inch thickness. Then cut the dough into ½-inch-wide strips or to your preferred length. Transfer the parchment paper with cheese straws onto the baking sheet and sprinkle them with salt, if using.
Bake the straws until golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes. Serve hot, warm or even at room temperature.
GRUYÈRE AND SAGE CHEESE STRAWS
For a Thanksgiving twist, substitute grated Gruyère for cheddar and add 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh sage into your food processor. Pulse.
Text excerpted from “How to Bake Everything” © 2016 by Mark Bittman. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.