This recipe is from Clementine Paddleford's classic How America Eats which was published in 1960. Clementine Paddleford (and may I just say how much I love that name) was a food columnist for the New York Herald Tribune who traveled the country, and occasionally the world, collecting recipes for her column. In the 1950s she was the equivalent of a modern day Food Network star --there was no one who wrote about food in that era who was more famous.
Cheese straws are an old-fashioned sort hors d'oeuvre, the kind of thing people of previous generations snacked on while sipping cocktails, and recipes for them are a staple of cookbooks from the early and mid-twentieth century. Unlike many popular foods of the past (congealed salads, I'm looking at you), these are still every bit as appealing as they were in the 1940s. Hot, crisp, rich, and slightly spicy they'd be perfect with a glass of champagne while waiting for Thanksgiving dinner.
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated fine
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
3 cups sifted flour
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Beat butter and cheese until incorporated. Add flour, cayenne, and salt and mix thoroughly. Roll out dough on floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness.Cut into strips about 1/2 inch wide and four inches long.
3. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly brown and crisp