I am always looking for a good party hors d’oeuvre, especially around the holidays. Something that’s nice to nibble on with a glass of wine, while you pick at the turkey and make radish roses for the relish tray. One that isn’t too difficult to eat, doesn’t require silverware or even a napkin. A real crowd pleaser if you will, that can dance that fine line between fancy and down home. If it has butter or cheese in it, all the better. Most importantly, one that isn’t a big exhausting over thought project that eats up far too much time. This one hits all the marks and has been a favorite of mine for years and years.
I first came across the recipe in a food magazine forever ago but damned if I can find it again online. In all honesty, I’ve tweaked it little over the years because I like it just the way it is. A beautiful cream cheese dough with a touch of whole wheat flour in for flavor and the slightest allusion that this may in some, far-fetched way, be healthy. While the parmesan cheese is so very nice, the seed mixture is the key element. Salty, crunchy, a little spicy with a big flavorful pop, they are what make these things so delicious. You can adjust the seed mixture any way you like of course, but I like this mix just fine.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: THE PERFECT TOAST. This is something worth raising your glass. I have yet to find a wine, or better yet, a champagne that doesn’t pair well with these things. In fact, cocktails work well too, especially of the whiskey/bourbon variety. No surprise there. I love how they look, piled on a plate, criss-cross fashion, or stuffed in a tall glass for your guests to grab at their whim. They are the most delightful distraction, whether you want to keep people out of the kitchen, buy some time, or qwell the drunks; they’ll do the trick. Lucky strike bonus extra: the recipe doubles and freezes beautifully.
Other great holiday-ish hors d’oeuvre recipes: Cotija Cumin Shortbread, Quick Pickled Cherry Tomatoes, Parmesan Pea Dip, Crispy Prosciutto, Pork Wine & Cheddar Cheese Log, Baked Brie with Savory Fig Jam, Seeded Crackers, Buckwheat Blini with Smoked Salmon, Pimento Cheese Spread, Prosciutto Stuffed Figs, Herbed Fresh Goat Cheese (homemade goat cheese!), Baked Cheddar Olives, Southern Style Cheese Straws, Fresh Tomato Tart, Puff Pastry Asparagus Spears, Spiced Pecans, Bacon Cheddar Gougeres (cheese puffs), Parmesan Black Pepper Crackers, Bacon Wrapped Dates
Six years ago: Pumpkin Bundt Cake (I love this cake SO MUCH)
Five years ago: Blue Cheese Dressing with a Wedge Salad
Four years ago: Maple Buttermilk Spoonbread with Glazed Pears
Three years ago: Kale & Squash Salad
Two years ago: Sunday Lunch – Ramen
Last year: Roasted Delicata Squash – 4 Ways
SPICY SEEDED PARMESAN STRAWS
Original recipe from god only knows where but I know it was a cooking magazine.
Makes about 60 straws
For the cream cheese dough:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut in ½” pieces
4 ounces cream cheese, cold, cut in ½” pieces (1 package)
2 ½ Tablespoon ice water
for the topping:
1 large egg
1 ½ teaspoons milk or cream
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan
½ teaspoon red chile flakes
½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
½ teaspoon flaky salt, such as Maldon
½ teaspoon poppy seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon sesame seeds
- For the cream cheese dough: In a food processor, pulse the two flours and salt together a few times until blended.
- Add the cold butter and cream cheese cubes to the workbowl and pulse until the mixture is the texture of a coarse meal.
- Add the ice water and pulse until the dough just comes together to form a rough ball. Do not over process.
- Turn the dough out and give a few kneads to bring everything together.
- Pat the dough into a neat rectangle and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight. Do ahead: you can freeze the dough at this point up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before proceeding.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and place a rack in the lower and upper thirds of the oven. Line two sheet pans with parchment or silicone baking mats and set aside.
- For the topping: In a small bowl, beat together the egg and milk (or cream) for an egg wash. Set aside until needed.
- In a separate small bowl, combine the chile flakes, pepper, salt, poppy, cumin and sesame seeds. Set aside until needed.
- To assemble: Unwrap the dough, lightly flour the top and roll on a lightly floured surface to 16”x14” and about 1/8” thick. Flour the top and bottom of the dough as needed to prevent sticking.
- Arrange the dough so the long end is toward you and trim/square up the edges.
- Brush the dough with the egg wash; you will have extra egg wash.
- Top evenly with the seed mixture and parmesan, pressing lightly to help it hold together.
- With a fluted pastry wheel or a pizza cutter, cut the dough in half lengthwise then cut into ½” thick strips. If you’d like very long and dramatic straws, do not make the center cut but keep in mind your yield will be half as much.
- Take each strip and twist so the seeds are on the inside of the twists and give a gently roll on the work surface to adhere the straw.
- Transfer straws to the prepared sheet pans, leaving ¼”- ½” space in between.
- Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown, rotating pans front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Make sure the straws are fully baked or they won’t have that lovely crispness.
- Let cool on the sheet pans. Best if baked the day they are to be served.
- Do ahead: as mentioned above, the dough can be made ahead and frozen but to speed things up, roll the dough and cut into quarters. Freeze the dough sheets flat, between double layers of parchment paper, tightly wrapped in plastic. The thin layers defrost quickly. Mix the seeds and put in a small ziploc bag and freeze along with the dough so everything is together in one place.