Thursday, January 5, 2012
Rosemary Cheese Straws
Hubby and I spent a quiet New Year's Eve at home this year. We started our day with a little pre-new year's cleaning by washing the all the windows in our townhouse, inside and out. Not an easy feat since it has never been done since we've lived here...for nearly 8 years. Eeek! I know. That's really bad. And kind of gross. And I don't have any good excuses as to why it took us so long. We clean the inside of our house once a week (really, we do!), but apparently the windows are on the once every decade schedule! Kind of embarrassing. Now that we can actually see the outside world with some clarity, we might just be inspired to up the window washing schedule to once every half decade?
Anyway, after a long morning filled with Karate Kid style "wax on" "wax off" cleaning, we spent the afternoon shopping and stocking up our fridge with fun foods to ring in the New Year.
Originally I planned to make chicken piccata and Parmesan roasted zucchini for dinner accompanied by a bottle of Riesling. Simple. Tasty.
But then my mind couldn't stop thinking about a spread of appetizers instead. Mmmmm. An array of delicious nibbles....so many possibilities! Appetizers seemed like the right thing to do on New Year's Eve.
Our meal of finger foods consisted of baked sweet onion dip with crackers and sweet onion stuffed mushrooms, mini lox and bagel sandwiches (for Hubby), sun dried tomato BLT bites, sauteed chicken fingers with piccata dipping sauce and these rosemary cheese straws. They were one of the easiest things to make and one of the tastiest.
Store bought puff pastry is the canvas for a mixture of cheeses and this fragrant, woody herb that I've been slowly warming up to over the past year. Just a handful of ingredients are transformed into light, airy bread sticks with baked in cheesey crunch. This recipe is versatile and you could substitute your favorite cheeses and fresh herbs. Rosemary cheese straws would be great served simply with a glass of wine, or as an accompaniment to a soup or salad.
A couple of baking notes. Don't get too carried away with rolling dough out. I found that it was actually easier to work with the dough on a very lightly floured surface and simply stretch it with my hands to the size/shape I was looking for. Generously brush the pastry with the egg wash and pack on the cheese/herb mixture on. When you cut and twist each straw, some of it will fall off. Not to worry! Though you can make these ahead, they are really great served warm from the oven. I made mine a bit ahead of time and just kept them wrapped in foil in a 200 degree oven to stay nice and toasty. Who doesn't love warm bread?
We cracked open the wine, cozied up on the couch, turned on a movie and chowed down on our appetizer feast to ring in 2012. My kind of New Year's Eve!
How did you spend your New Year's Eve?
Rosemary Cheese Straws
adapted from Handle the Heat
2 sheets puff pastry, defrosted overnight in the fridge (or on the counter in 40 minutes to an hour)
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (original recipe called for 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese (original recipe called for 1 cup of grated white cheddar cheese)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment or foil.
In a small bowl, combine cheeses, rosemary, salt and pepper and set aside.
Unfold the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and gently use a rolling pin to stretch pastry into a 10x12 inch sheet. Use a kitchen/pastry brush and brush egg wash over the surface of the puff pastry until completely covered. Divide the cheese mixture in half and sprinkle evenly over each puff pastry sheet. Gently press the mixture into the sheets.
Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife cut the pastry dough in half across the long side. Cut each half into 3/4 inch strips. Hold the ends of each pastry strip and twist moving your hands in the opposite direction and lay each strip on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
Bake for 15 minutes or until pastry puffs and turns golden brown. Cool on baking sheets.