Wednesday, December 5

Holiday Throwback Recipes: Dueling Cheese Straws

We've got a pretty solid collection of community cookbooks here in the office—and many more in our staffers' home libraries. And the holidays seem like the right time to whip them out and share some choice recipes with you, our readers. So fix yourself an eggnog, pull up a seat, and check back often between now and New Year's for our Holiday Throwback Recipes.

If we've got a holiday cocktail in one hand, nothing makes us happier than twirling (then chomping) a cheese straw in the other. There are many ways to make them and shape them, from shortbread-esque sticks to puff pastry spirals to cookie-shaped flats. In fact, we'd be willing to guess that there are as many recipes out there for cheese straws as there are for pimento cheese.

Here are three such recipes: a classic version, one with an extra crunch, and one that's got the blues.

Inverness Cookbook
Recipes collected by the All Saints Episcopal Guild, Inverness, Mississippi
(Publication date not given; probably 1960s)

Cheese Straws
1 lb cheese (N.Y. State)
1 stick butter
2 c. flour
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp red pepper or Tabasco

Put dough in cookie press with star point. Bake at 300 degrees about 20 min. Makes 81 straws. 

(Editor's note: If you were hoping to make 82 cheese straws, this might not be the recipe for you.) 


La Piñata 
Published by the McAllen Junior Service League, McAllen, Texas

Hot Corn Flake Cheese Cookies
3 sticks butter
1 1/2 lbs sharp cheese, grated
2 2/3 cups flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp red pepper
1 8-oz pkg. corn flakes

Mix above ingredients. Roll into balls about the size of a marble. Flatten with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

—Mrs. Robert Whitis (Linda)


The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook 
edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge, published by University of Georgia Press

Blue Cheese Straws
Makes about 6 dozen
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
2 large egg yolks, slightly beaten

Stir together the flour, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Use a pastry blender or your fingertips to cut in the butter and cheese until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the nuts and egg yolks until the mixture forms large clumps. Press and knead the clumps until the dough is well mixed. (It will stay crumbly.) Divide the dough in half and shape each piece into a 9-inch log with round or flat sides. Wrap the logs tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Cut the logs into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange the slices about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle the tops with salt. Place the pan on a wire rack and let the shortbreads cool to room temperature. They will firm up as they cool.

—Steven Satterfield of Atlanta, Georgia