Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Mama's Cheese Straw Recipe
Every well bred Southern girl has several strands of pearls and a killer recipe for Cheese Straws. Both will ensure social success. Mama made cheese straws for every bridal tea, wedding reception, baby shower, graduation party and ladies' event in the small Alabama town where I grew up. They were not anticipated, they were just expected. She gave tins of them as Christmas presents. If you've never had a Southern homemade Cheese Straw, shame on you! They rank right up there with sweet iced tea, hush puppies and peach cobbler as quintessentially Southern. Mama added a little red pepper to hers for a "kick" making them better suited to accompany a short glass of bourbon in the late afternoon.
Cheese Straws require a cookie "gun" for proper shaping. Mama's was hand turned and it was a true labor of love to "squirt" out the cheese straw dough. Nowadays, there are any number of electric and/or battery powered cookie presses. Fact remains, the cheese straws MUST be shot out, not hand shaped. The proper shape is flat on the bottom side and saw-toothed on the top, about 1-wide and baked until crip but not golden. Mama said, "Use the best cheese you can afford. This is no time to scrimp." She swore by Cracker Barrel New York Sharp Cheddar.
Here's her recipe. Make a batch today and sit in the porch swing with a short glass of bourbon, drinking a toast to Mama - Miz Martha!
Martha Riley's Cheese Straws
2 sticks butter or margarine, softened
2 cups grated cheese - hand grated, none of that pre-grated stuff
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and cheese in electric mixer until fluffy. Sift dry ingredients. Stir into butter mixture mixing by HAND! Yes, it's hard and the dough is very stiff, but if you use the mixer, the cheese straws will be tough. When flour mixture is no longer visible, fill cookie press and "squirt" dough onto ungreased cookie sheets. Lightly score at 2-inch intervals. Bake for 10 minutes or until set but NOT browned! Remove to wire rack, breaking apart as you go and let them cool. Store in airtight container and keep in a secret place. ;)