Little Puffs of Heaven

If you need an absolutely delectable appetizer or finger food, I have an easy and simply lavishing recipe for puffy Asiago cheese straws. I originally gleaned the concept of cheese straws from Ina Garten on the Barefoot Contessa television show. Of course, when I went to make them recently it had been upwards of a year since I had watched them being made and I forgot nearly everything, so I had to improvise a little. Needless to say, they came out better and more luxurious than I ever remember Ina’s looking. Maybe one of my little tweaks actually improved them.

What you end up with is a golden, flaky “straw,” with deliciously nutty Asiago cheese melted throughout. They are a little on the rich side, but you can cut them into hunks or cubes and serve more people from them. Or you can enjoy an entire straw yourself! They are as tender and buttery as you can imagine, and the girls I served them to could not stop oo-ing and ah-ing.

You need a few ounces of Asiago cheese, shredded with your grater, Micro planer or food processor. You also need one sheet of thawed, store-bought puff pastry. As Ina would say, get the “all-butter” variety (read: no trans fat, but this is no health food). Truthfully, that is all I remember from her recipe. I rolled out the puff pastry a little bit so it was thinner than the standard sheet. I then drizzled a little extra virgin olive oil over the top and rubbed it in with my hands, so that it lightly covered the entire sheet. Then, I sprinkled the cheese evenly over the surface and sprinkled just a little salt and pepper. I sliced it into four “straw”-like pieces length-wise and twisted the puff strips like a ribbon as I laid each down next to one another on a cookie sheet. Most of the cheese side ended up covered, on the inside of the ribbons. That was just fine. I sprinkled a little more grated Asiago over the tops and then stuck them in a 400 degree oven for 12 minutes.

I took them out and was simply wowed by how puffy and soft and crispy they were. I let them cool for 5-10 minutes and then we all dug in. They were gone in a finger-licking blink of an eye, but they were so easy that these fan favorites will be made again very soon!

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