Cheese straws are a classic nibble, aren’t they? They’re also something James used to make at The Savoy decades ago (yes, he’s that old), so he thought he’d try a new riff on that old recipe and modernise it a little – incorporating some of the amazing squash that the gardeners grow in the kitchen gardens. The result is these beauties, which blend the tang of the cheese with the smooth gorgeousness of squash to excellent effect. We find they go particularly well as a picnic snack with a glass of Hambledon sparkling wine.
Makes roughly 25
- 1 small squash, about 400g(14oz) when peeled and deseeded
- rapeseed oil
- 200g (7oz) Old Winchestercheese (or Parmesan), grated
- 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
- flour, for dusting
- 2 x 500g (1lb 2oz) packs of ready-rolled puff pastry
- salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C fan (400°F), Gas Mark 6. Witha sharp knife, carefully halve the squash lengthways, scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard, then season the flesh and drizzle with a little rapeseed oil.
Place on a baking tray and bake until the flesh is soft, which should take around 30–40 minutes.
Allow the squash to cool before scooping out all the cooked flesh and mashing it with a fork. If it’s very wet, you might want to put the squash in a sieve to let the excess liquid drain off. Season and mix in100g (3½oz) of the cheese and the chopped thyme.
Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the two pastry sheets.
Grab a dessert spoon and spread the squash mixture in a thin layer on one sheet of pastry, leaving a gap of 1cm (½inch) around the edge. Top this with the remainder of the grated cheese. Finally, top this with the other pastry sheet and lightly press it down to form a sandwich.
Roll out the squash and pastry sandwich lightly and carefully, so that itis about 5mm (¼inch) thick. Leave to rest for an hour in the fridge.
After resting, take your pastry out and slice it into strips, then place these on a baking sheet.
Here’s the fiddly bit: lightly holding each end of a cheese straw, twist a few times to create a spiral shape. Once all the cheese straws are shaped, leave them to rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven again to 200°C, 180°C fan (400°F), Gas Mark 6. Bake for 8–10 minutes or until golden brown.