Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Cheesy New Year's Eve

I didn't go to the Hamptons as planned for New Years (the house rental fell through). Instead: a small gathering at my sister's apartment uptown featuring a quantity of random fruity mixed drinks not seen since college; lots of chatter; ignoring the ball drop on TV; a brief blurry stop at a bar; and I may or may not have thrown up on the subway ride home (a rite of passage for twentysomething nyc'ers, right?). I blame my undoing on the bizarre combination that day of cheese straw overdosing + fancy sushi dinner + fruity drinks .

I didn't have occasion to make focaccia and pumpkin rolls as hoped, but I still spent time baking a few festive treats to bring to the party, including cheese straws! I don't know why I waited so long to try this recipe, since I mastered regular crackers long ago (which reminds me I need to post that recipe). Cheese straws taste just like cheez-its but are a thousand times better for you, especially if you cut the butter and add whole wheat flour to healthify. I also added dried herbs and gouda instead of cheddar to fancify my version.

It felt like I was baking allll day, probably because it took forever to roll and cut out all these thin little sticks. So take this lady's advice instead and roll the dough into a log to be able to quickly slice it into thin round crackers. And if you make an extra log of dough to store in the freezer, you can slice and bake off a few crackers at a time to satisfy cheez-it cravings within minutes. I recently learned this freezer trick, which also works for cookie dough, and it is transformative. One downside to my lifestyle of making things from scratch instead of buying processed foods is the daunting lag time between a craving and the final product coming out of the oven ready to eat. Keeping dough in the freezer solves this problem by offering both instant gratification and portion control.


Herbed Cheese Crackers
6 tbsp butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp dried herbs such as rosemary, sage, oregano, or thyme
1 1/2 cups cheddar or gouda cheese
1 tbsp milk plus more as needed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine all ingredients but milk in food processor and pulse until the butter is broken down into little crumby bits. Add milk a tablespoon at a time while pulsing until it is moist enough to come together as a dough ball. Divide dough in half and roll into logs. Store in plastic wrap in freezer at least half an hour to allow dough to firm (or up to a few weeks). Slice dough into rounds as thinly as possible. Bake in batches on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

photo 1 via flickr; atrociousness of photo 2 and 3 are all my fault


  1. those photo credits made me laugh out loud.

  2. And suddenly I need to finally organize my wine-and-tapas pairing party so I can make these.

  3. puking on the subway makes me feel young again.

  4. wow these look so good! and a lot of times, small little gatherings tend to be more fun and meaningful than the big ones :)

  5. Celia - :-)

    Giovanna - i know, right? nothing makes you feel young like drinking too much and bad choices.

    Celeste - yes, it was really nice to celebrate with my sisters.

    A Los Angeles Love - ooh wine and tapas sounds like a great party idea. do share the process if you end up hosting one.

    wishing you all a Happy New Year too!

  6. Ohhhhhhhhh, those cheese straws look good. I can only imagine how cheesy and herby and generally heavenly they tasted!

  7. oh man, let's talk about the cheese straws looking delish BEFORE we talk about the public transportation barf.

    the cheese straws look delicious. i'm gunna add this link to my "TO MAKE and/or EAT" bookmarks pronto.

    mkay, so one night after working a 14 hour day i took the subway downtown to this random, totally amazing french place in the west 20's to meet up with a bunch of friends. i was exhausted. i had a bottle of white wine. and oysters. and beef carpaccio. and something else that was meaty and raw. anyway, my story has the same ending as yours, cept i was taking a cab home, and just as he pulled over DIRECTLY in front of the LOWES on 68th and broadway i lost it. on the sidwalk. in front of three hundred people waiting in line for the new harry potter premier.

    it was not a shining moment. eek.

  8. bigBANG - haha. thanks for sharing your story. i guess one benefit of nyc is that you don't have to worry about future run-ins with anyone who witnesses these embarassing moments.