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A Delicious Gluten Free Derby Day

Posted on April 29, 2015

Spring means many things … flowers blooming, sunshine days and cool nights, Derby Day. The first Saturday in May sometimes sneaks up on me, as it did this year. But I have quickly come to my senses and am eager to plan for this Saturday’s Run for the Roses. I’m not sure why Derby Day captivates even non-Kentuckians … maybe it’s the horses, the hats, the gathering of friends to raise a glass.

You may be able to guess what my favorite Derby beverage is, but you may not have heard of the best nibbles that go with it. Cheese straws are a funny name for a delicious, savory, cracker-y snack. You don’t eat them by the handful, but instead savor each bite.

I bought a cookie press for the sole purpose of making cheese straws. I know it’s not a common kitchen implement, but it does make cheese straw-making much easier. And when you crave these spicy, cheesy crackers like I do … well, it’s an investment I was very willing to make. Don’t worry, I’ve shared a way to make these savory goodies without one.

Sweet Ali’s Gluten Free Cheese Straws

(Recipe modified from Bon Appetit, Y’all by Virginia Willis)

Sweet Ali's Cheese Straws

Sweet Ali’s Cheese Straws

1 ½ cups Sweet Ali’s Gluten Free Flour

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy!)

½ pound sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated, at room temperature

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

Position the oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, salt, and cayenne in a small bowl and set aside. In a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the grated cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth and well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for about 15 minutes.

Pack the dough into a cookie press fitted with the serrated ribbon disk. Holding the cookie press at an angle to the baking sheet, press long, continuous strips of the dough the length of the sheet. Repeat until you’ve covered the baking sheet, spacing the ribbons of dough 1 inch apart. Using a sharp knife, score the strips every 2 inches.

If you are cookie press-less, place the dough disc on a piece of plastic wrap. Place another piece of plastic wrap on top of the dough and gently roll the dough with a rolling pin to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut dough into 1-inch strips with a sharp knife, and score the strips every 2 inches. Place cheese straws on parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake the cheese straws, rotating the baking sheets at 10 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges, about 20 minutes total. Remove the cheese straws from the oven and place them on a rack to cool completely. Cut or break on the scored lines. Store in an airtight container between sheets of parchment paper for 2 weeks.

These are cheesy and spicy and completely addicting. They pair perfectly with whatever beverage you like to enjoy on the first Saturday in May. Make mine a julep with mint, crushed ice, some simple syrup … and maybe a little extra kick.

And while you’re raising a glass to toast a century-old tradition and nibbling on a Sweet Ali’s cheese straw, find out your Derby horse name on Louisville’s Courier-Journal website. You might be a Sparkling Skipper or a Thirsty Dreamer!




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