Spicy cheese straws
It is absolutely worth making these addictively moreish, light crumbly cheese straws which were served at my son Will’s pub The Marquess Tavern back in the noughties and which I included in my book An Appetite for Ale (which you can currently pick up for an absurdly low price on Amazon.)
150g plain flour
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or hot pimenton
1/4 tsp mustard power or 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (see method)
A pinch of sea salt
100g chilled, unsalted butter cut into small cubes
150g strong, mature farmhouse cheddar, coarsely grated
1 egg yolk
Sift the flour with the cayenne pepper, mustard and salt and tip into the bowl of a food processor (or just a bowl if you’re going to make it by hand)
Add the cubed butter to the flour and pulse to amalgamate (or rub it in with your fingertips). Add the grated cheese and pulse or rub in again. Beat the egg yolk with 2 tbsp water - and the Dijon mustard if you haven’t any mustard powder) and add just enough to the mix to enable you to pull it together and shape into a flat disc. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes than remove the dough and allow it to come back to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 190°C/160°fan/Gas 5
Roll out the dough fairly thinly (I find it easiest to divide it into two halves) and cut into long strips. (Don’t cut off the uneven ends - that’s what makes them look homemade.) Lay the strips carefully on a couple of lightly greased baking sheets and bake for about 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Leave on the trays for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Eat fresh, ideally but they will keep well for a couple of days in an airtight tin and you can refreshing them briefly in the oven.
What to drink: Originally designed to go with a classic pale ale but a gutsy red like a rioja or malbec will work pretty well too.
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