The Cooking Connection to Home

I think anyone who lives away from home and misses it always feels the distance even more around the holidays.  And I think one of the best ways to feel closer to what you miss is through food.  (Surprise, surprise, right?)  Thanksgiving in western North Carolina was pretty wonderful for lots of reasons, but our Thanksgiving supper, the turkey hash my mom made with the leftovers the next day and some Carolina-style pulled pork were the culinary high points. 

Every year I read through various Thanksgiving menus with all these fancy-schmancy riffs on roast turkey, dressing, gravy, pies, etc and I am always so glad that my family keeps cooking from the same menu as we have for years, much of it straight out of The Farmington Cookbook.  Every year on the morning after, my mom takes the leftover turkey and gravy, cooks it down slowly with an onion and some celery and we have turkey hash over the leftover rice. Serious stick-to-your-ribs goodness.

I will be turning to a magazine or two for some Christmas inspiration this year, though.  Southern Living and Garden and Gun arrived while we were gone and both dedicated some serious editorial space to cheese straws.  Oh, how I love cheese straws.  I haven't decided if I'll try the SL or G and G version (maybe both?), but here are the recipes in case yours needs updating or you've never tasted them, bless your heart. 

Southern Living's version:

Total: 15 minutes
Yield: Makes 1 dough ball

1 (10-oz.) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and softened
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons half-and-half

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

Note: Dough may be wrapped in plastic wrap, sealed in a zip-top plastic freezer bag, and chilled up to 3 days.
1. Spicy Cheddar "Long" Straws: Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare dough, and turn out onto a well-floured surface; divide in half. Roll each half into a 12- x 8-inch rectangle (about 1/8 inch thick). Cut dough into 3/4-inch-wide strips using a sharp knife or fluted pastry wheel, dipping knife in flour after each cut to ensure clean cuts. Place strips on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until edges are well browned; cool on baking sheets on wire racks 30 minutes. Makes: about 3 dozen. Hands-On Time: 15 min.; Total Time: 1 hr., 26 min., including dough.

Garden and Gun's Version:
Makes about 40

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 stick unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 tsp of salt
1/4 lb shredded sharp orange chedder
1/4 lb shredded white cheese (half Gruyere, half Parmasean)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 egg yolk
Sea salt and chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat over to 350F

In bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients except the last two, pulse dough until it softens and begins to come together in a ball.  On a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll dough out to 8 x 11" and 1/4" thick.  Fold in half left-to-right and reroll.  Do this several more times (increases flakiness).  Reroll to 8 x 11 and using a spatula, carefully lift the rectangle onto an ungreased baking sheet.  Square the edges, cut into 20 vertical strips and then make one horizontal cut.  Use a knift to carefully seperate the strips.  Sprilke with sea salt and rosemary.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until they just being to turn golden.  Cool on a wire rack.

I'll be making cheese straws on Sunday afternoon for the office and some presents to have on hand. 

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