You know what we need? A good, old-fashioned cocktail party. Dress up a little. Wear lipstick or a pocket square. Spin music on the record player. Light candles and do the twist. Have a quiet conversation and play Cards Against Humanity. I love going out to my favorite watering holes, but it’s fun to spend time at other peoples’ homes on a Saturday night. Peek inside the medicine cabinet, see where they display family photos and what kind of mustard they’ve got in the fridge. Pile coats on the bed like your parents used to do.
It’s a bit of a socio-anthropological study. Interesting, edifying. I always get inspired when I see the neat things my friends are doing with art or toy storage. Make a batch of daiquiris or copper cups of Moscow Mules. Or just open a few bottles of wine. Cocktail parties don’t have to be silly or kitschy. They’re a chance to get together and visit while enjoying snacks. And only jerks and introverts don’t like that. Guests will appreciate a thoughtful hors d’oeuvre or two. Such as: Deviled eggs. Marinated mozzarella bites. Spicy lamb mini meatballs. And these cheese straws. Easy to whip up, and melt-in-your-mouth sensational. Someone invite me over. I really need to kick out the jams.
The original recipe calls for crushed red pepper flakes, but I changed the spice to harissa, a spicy condiment from Tunisia, which is available in most grocery stores. If you don’t have it or don’t like it, try sweet paprika or cayenne. Curry would be a fun iteration as well. The name “straws” implies something long and thin. I ended up cutting this batch in half, which makes them a little shorter and easier to handle before baking.
- 3 cups cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened and sliced into pieces
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon harissa powder
- 2 tablespoons half and half
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In a food processor or powerful blender, pulse first six ingredients.
- Add the half and half, and mix until the dough forms into a ball.
- On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough into an 8x10 inch rectangle that is ⅛ inch thick.
- With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into long, thin strips, ¼-1/3 inch wide.
- Transfer strips to an ungreased cookie sheet and twist, if desired.
- Bake 15 minutes. Serve warm.