Recipes from the Grapevine Cottage

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Mississippi Cheese Straws

Just when I had no idea what to use for this week's recipe, Linda came up with this....

Having just spent several days in Banff, also known as the motor coach capitol of the world (since the closest airport is 80 miles away and it is also a major destination for Japanese tourists), we thought we were experiencing deja vu on Saturday when a motor coach pulled up on Main Street and out spilled a horde of elderly ladies. Now, we don't dislike busloads of elderly ladies, but they aren't typically a major source of business for us either! But we (and you) were the beneficiary of their visit on Saturday by obtaining the following recipe … but you need to get the whole picture first.

Two lovely ladies are in the store, and are tasting the John W. Macy Cheesticks we have out for sampling. One looks at another and says, "Why Mildred, these are almost as good as the ones you make." Mildred replies, "Almost, but not quite!" To which I jump in and say, "You mean, you make your own cheesesticks?" Mildred modestly says that she does make her own cheese straws from an old recipe originally from Mississippi, and offers to recite the recipe to me right there! So, I took notes as quickly as I could (since they both decided to share LOTS of recipes with me then), and we made some on Sunday night. They're pretty good on their own, but Mildred's alternate suggestion with the olives is the real hit. Read on … and thanks to the ladies from Urbana, Illinois!

1 stick butter or margarine
1-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Cayenne pepper to taste (we used about 1/2 teaspoon and the bite was nice, but not too much)
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese (Mildred was insistent that it be "Cracker Barrel" brand, but we didn't make a special trip)

Allow butter to warm to room temperature. Grate the cheese with a fine cheese grater (we couldn't find ours, so the regular size grater worked fine for us). Using a mixer, cream the butter. Add the baking powder, salt & pepper. Alternately add the flour and the cheese to make a stiff batter. Using a cookie press and the star setting, squeeze out on a cookie sheet in whatever length you desire. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.

Mildred's Appetizer Idea: Wrap the batter around a jalapeno-stuffed olive (we used the really big Santa Barbara Olive Company kind we have at the store), and freeze. When frozen, bake in 350 degree oven for 12 minutes or so (lightly browned). These are tasty! Mildred also said you could do the same with a pearl onion, but we'll stick to stuffed olives.