Cheese Straws and/or Rounds

If you have a Southern bone in your body you will have a batch or two of these tasty treats on hand. Are there any three words more exciting than FREEZEABLE and MAKE AHEAD for a busy cook! I'm not as good as I once was, sounds like a song I remember, but I'm trying to keep these in the freezer at all times. They are equally delicious with a glass of sweet tea or your favorite wine or cocktail. They do pack a pretty good kick. If you like them a little less spicy, use the smaller amount of red pepper flakes.

I'm almost sure this recipe comes from the wonderful <em>Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook</em>(W.W. Norton, 2006)

Makes about 2 dozen
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1 1/2 cups (6-ounces) shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (shred your own cheese)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and softened
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon half-and-half

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a food processor; pulse in 5-second intervals until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add half-and-half, and process 10 seconds or until dough forms a ball.

2. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface, and roll into an 8 x 10-inch rectangle (about 1/8-inch thick). Cut dough with a sharp knife into 1/4 to 1/2-inch-wide strips, dipping knife in flour after each cut to ensure clean cuts. Place on ungreased baking sheets.

3. Bake a 350 degrees F for 12 minutes or until ends are slightly browned. Cool on baking sheets on a wire rack 30 minutes. Break into desired lengths.

To Make Cheese Rounds, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness, and cut wit a 1 1/2-inch round cutter. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake and cool as directed. Freeze baked cheese straws and rounds in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic freezer bag up to 3 months. Let thaw at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.