Photo copyright © 2008 by Leigh Beisch
FACTOID:The small state of Vermont has a long history of making Cheddar cheese by the traditional methods of the English. Vermont cheese maker Cabot makes wonderful Cheddars; the Clothbound Cheddar is a personal favorite. In fact, this cheese, a joint effort between Cabot Creamery and Jasper Hill Farms, won the Best of Show award from the American Cheese Society in 2006.
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough (from a 17.3-ounce package)
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- All-purpose flour for dusting
- 1 large egg, beaten with 2 teaspoons water
How to make it
Remove 1 pastry sheet from the package and let thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes. Tightly seal the remaining pastry and freeze for another use.
Position one rack in the center and a second rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425°F. Have ready 2 rimmed baking sheets, preferably nonstick. For pans without a nonstick finish, line the pans with parchment paper or use Silpat mats.
In a small bowl, mix together the cheese, chives, thyme, pimentón, and cayenne. Set aside.
Unfold the pastry sheet and place it on a lightly floured cutting board. If there are any cracks in the pastry, gently pinch them closed. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll over the pastry gently, just enough to remove the fold marks, and then roll it out into a 10-by-15-inch rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise to form two 5-by-15-inch rectangles. Brush each piece with the egg wash. Arrange 1 piece of the dough with the long side facing you and distribute the cheese filling evenly over it. Place the second piece of dough, egg wash side down, on top of the cheese, lining up the edges evenly. Using the rolling pin, press the sheets together to secure the cheese firmly between the layers, especially at the edges.
Using a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut the filled and pressed pastry crosswise into 30 strips, each 1/2 inch wide. Working with 1 strip at a time, twist 3 times and lay the cheese straw on a baking sheet, pressing down the ends firmly to keep it from untwisting during baking. Continue to twist and arrange the remaining strips, placing them 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.
Bake for 8 minutes, switch the position of the baking sheets, and continue to bake until the cheese straws are puffed, golden brown, and crisp, about 4 to 6 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 30 cheese straws. This recipe doubles easily for 60 straws.
The cheese straws can be made up to 3 days in advance. Store in a lock-top plastic bag or an airtight container at room temperature. The day of serving, arrange the cheese straws on a rimmed baking sheet and crisp them for 7 to 10 minutes in a preheated 375°F oven.
Excerpted from New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan. Text copyright © 2008 by Diane Morgan. Photos copyright © 2008 by Leigh Beisch.