Serves: Makes about 60
The cheese straw might have been standard drinks party fare in the 1970’s but I honestly don’t think they can be beaten. Just the aroma of them as they cook in the oven gets the appetite going. These cheese straws are buttery and crumbly and prone to break if you cut them into very long strips which is why I keep them a bit stubby. Also, from a practical point of view the perfect aperitif nibble should be no more than two bites. The last two ingredients in the list are optional – you can keep the straws au nature if you prefer.
- 150g plain flour
- 125g unsalted butter, cut into rough pieces
- 1 teaspoon English mustard powder
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 75g mature Cheddar, grated
- 50g parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds (black onion seeds)
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Place the flour, butter, mustard powder, cayenne pepper and a good pinch of salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the contents look like fine breadcrumbs. Add the Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and process until the mixture is on the point of forming a ball of dough. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough into a smooth ball. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 200˚c, fan oven 180˚c, mark 6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a rectangle about 22x30cm and about 5mm thick - I find this easiest to do between 2 sheets of non-stick baking parchment. Brush the surface with a little of the beaten egg and cut into strips about 1 ½ cm wide and 7cm long. Place on one large baking sheet (or 2 small ones) lined with non-stick baking parchment. Sprinkle the nigella seeds over one third of the cheese straws, the smoked paprika over the second third and leave the remaining third plain. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze.