A few weeks ago I received a block of Healey’s Slow Matured Cheddar Cheese from Healey’s and Waterkloof Wines. These easy puff pastry cheese straws and cheddar & bacon dip were the result of lots of um’ing and ah’ing over what to do with this gorgeous cheddar (one option was purely slices of cheese and a glass of red wine, but experimentation won out in the end, thank goodness!). Healey’s is mature, tangy and perfect for using in these dishes as it adds a great strong cheddar kick! Recipe follows under picture. Enjoy!
To make the Cheese Straws
1 roll (400g) store-bought puff pastry
1 Tbsp olive oil
Pinch of coarse salt and some ground black pepper
Sprinkle of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup of grated Healey’s Slow Matured Cheddar (or any other strong cheddar if you prefer)
2 Tbsps. Parmesan cheese, grated
To bake the Cheese Straws
Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius and prepare a baking tray with Spray n’ Cook or a silicone mat. Roll out your thawed pastry onto a lightly floured surface and brush with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper then sprinkle over the cheeses. Cover pastry with a piece of cling-wrap and press down on the surface (I used a baking tray) to ensure that the cheese is firmly pressed into the pastry.
Remove the cling-wrap and using a sharp knife, cut your pastry into 1.5cm to 2cm strips (I managed about 16 strips). Pick up your strips one by one and twist from each end to make a twisted tube, place on the baking tray and repeat until all strips are twisted and ready for baking. Pick up any cheese that has fallen off and press into the strips of pastry (I added a little more cheese for extra cheesy straws!).
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown, remove from oven and allow to cool a little before serving.
To make the Cheddar Bacon Dip
1 cup of full cream milk
1 heaped Tbsp. all purpose flour
1 cup Healey’s Slow Matured Cheddar cheese (or any other strong cheddar of your choice)
1 tsp. Tabasco
Sprinkle of cayenne pepper
Salt & ground black pepper to taste
100g bacon bits or streaky bacon cut into small pieces
To cook the cheese & bacon dip
On a low to medium heat melt your butter in a small saucepan, add the flour and stir constantly until flour is absorbed then slowly add your milk, stirring or whisking as you go. Once all your milk has been added, add the remainder of the ingredients. Keep stirring until cheese has melted and you have a thickish smooth silky sauce (takes about 5 minutes, don’t let it start boiling). Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
While your cheese sauce is cooling, fry your bacon in a frying pan until crispy. Remove from heat, add to cheese sauce and mix until combined. Serve in a bowl with a sprinkle of bacon on top and serve with the cheese straws.