oregano cheese straws
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The best cheese straws are made with shortcrust pastry from scratch. But fear not – it’s easy cheesy. Flavoured with oregano, they are supposed to keep for a week in a jar but they never last that long.
If you are a vegan, gluten intolerant (or pretend to be), or both – please accept my deep sympathy. You are missing out on the most moreish, everyone’s favourite snack: cheese straws. No amount of coconut oil, vegan cheese or soya egg is going to replicate the crumbly melting texture or the golden, salty, Parmesany flavour.
Cheese straws are lethal – you can’t just have one, I think it’s one of those universally impossible things. They sneak upon you, one after another, even if you promise yourself to have only a teeny tiny HALF of one – no way. The crafty thing about them is you think it’s all right to have a few because they contain no sugar. But however many paleo, keto et al people tell me butter and cheese are good because fat is good, it’s still a staggering number of calories and not such a great idea for those with high cholesterol levels.
Let’s be honest – and I am always frank about this particular truth – good things are rarely healthy. No mistake that vegans think their diet is the healthiest (arguably): they deprive themselves of the nicest foods. Without being judgemental about veganism (or just a little bit), most people’s last supper dish would be steak and chips rather than a nice bowl of quinoa porridge.
Savoury shortcrust pastry is forgiving: you’ll get by on just about one recipe which can be varied by the additions of cheese, different flours or herbs. You can use this for a pie crust, you can roll it out to a savoury tart base or you can make savoury biscuits – like the oregano cheese straws here.
The pastry is simple, made with softened butter which always makes things much easier and it needs chilling for an hour but then there’s no rolling. You can simply slice or even tear off chunks and roll them between your palms into long thin sausages – exactly like you used to roll out Play Doh or plasticine all those years ago.
You can adorn the straws further by sprinkling on salt crystals or more herbs; you can actually coat the straws in more grated Parmesan for a decadent, crusty effect but either way I tell you: those vegans you might happen to eat your cheese straws around will sure as hell get a lifestyle crisis.
oregano cheese strawsServings: makes a dozen strawsTime: 30 minutes plus chilling pastry
- 100g plain flour
- 40g fine cornmeal
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp salt
- 60g butter, softened
- 40g grated Cheddar
- 40g coarsely grated Parmesan
- 1 medium egg
- 1 tbsp. iced water
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- finely grated Parmesan, for dusting
1. Stir the flour, cornmeal, oregano and salt in a large bowl or the bowl of the standing mixer with the paddle attachment fixed. Add the butter and mix or rub in with your fingers, until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Mix in both cheeses.
2. Beat the egg with the iced water and vinegar, pour into the flour mix and stir until the pastry just about comes together. Shape a fat sausage (it will be sticky), wrap in cling film and chill for about an hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas 2½. Line a large baking tray with parchment. Prepare a shallow dish with a little finely grated Parmesan.
4. Slice chunks of the pastry and roll on a lightly floured surface into straws, the thickness of a fat finger. Roll each lightly in the Parmesan and arrange on the baking tray, not too tightly though they don’t spread much.
5. Bake for 18-20 minutes until barely golden. Cool on the parchment.