You may think that life’s too short to make cheese straws, and most of the time I would agree with you. But last weekend I was compiling a menu for a dinner with friends and came across this recipe in the Ottolenghi Cookbook, currently my favourite source of ideas.
They look spectacularly impressive, but are extremely simple to make, especially if you cheat and buy fresh ready rolled puff pastry, like I did. If you can manage to serve them warm, straight from the oven, exuding the aroma of toasted cheese, that’s even better. At this point I would normally provide a link to the Ottolenghi website for the recipe, but it’s not there, so I feel justified in providing it here (I hope they don’t mind).
300g ready rolled puff pasty
1 egg, lightly beaten
100g strong Cheddar Cheese, finely grated
1 tsp Caraway seeds
flour for dusting
Unroll the chilled ready rolled pastry onto a work surface lightly dusted with flour. If necessary trim the edges so it is a neat rectangle of around 20 x 30cm. Brush the top with beaten egg and sprinkle over half the cheese. Press lightly so it sticks to the pastry.
Carefully turn over the pastry, brush off any excess flour, and repeat with egg and the rest of the cheese, pressing lightly.
Now cut into strips about 3cm wide across the width of the pastry. Pick up a strip in each hand and holding one end down on the work surface, twist the other end to make a tight, hollow spiral tube. Lay it on a greaseproof lined baking tray, and repeat with the rest, leaving them at least 3cm apart. I needed to use two baking trays.
Sprinkle with the caraway (or fennel) seeds, and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C/Gas mark 4. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Don’t open the oven for the first 15 minutes. When ready they should be a rich golden brown.
Serve warm with chilled white wine.