We are snowed in. Again. It’s amazing how much snow we have. What to do on a snow day? Cook, of course.
I went back to the recipe box. You know the one. I browsed the pink cards, trying to decide what I felt like making. Savory? Sweet? Meat? Dessert? Main Course?I decided on savory. Grandma had a recipe for Cheddar Cheese Puffs, which she noted were “from Canada.” What might this mean? We have friends and relatives in Canada. My grandparents certainly had traveled to Canada many times and eaten in many places. There was no way to tell. Well, no matter, I decided, I’ll make them anyway- they seem simple.
I was horrified. It was awful. Gross, icky, sharp and not at all tasty. What had Grandma done? How could this be in her recipe box? Had I messed it up? I re-read the recipe. Nope, I had followed the directions. Of course, I had used a different set of cheeses but that was ok- Grandma said so right at the bottom of the card. What had gone wrong??? What to do? Should I scrap it altogether? Bake it and see what happened? Muddle through?
Muddle through I did. I finished up and put them in the oven, already planning to taste one and then toss the rest.
When they came out of the oven I mentally shrugged and tasted one.
Do not doubt Grandma. She knows of what she cooks. They were delicious. Not quite flakey but cheesy, soft, pastry. So good. Totally different from the raw dough. The heat of the oven had melted the cheese and allowed it to incorporate with the flour and spices. It was a nice, savory treat for a snowy, cold day. So, try them. And Grandma, if you’re somehow reading this from the beyond, I promise not to doubt your cooking again.
Cheddar Cheese Puffs, From Canada
4 oz. cheddar cheese (about 1 cup, shredded) (you an use other cheese as well, I used parmesan and jarlsburg for this)
1 1/3 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 1 inch pats
1 egg white beaten
sesame or poppy seeds (for garnish)
Preheat oven to 375.
Grate the cheese in the food processor. Switch out the blades in the food processor. Add the flour, salt and pepper and blend. Add the butter and blend again. Grandma said that if it was too dry, you could add “a bit of white wine.” Mine looked like this after adding the butter:Since Grandma had described the dough as a “ball”, I decided that this was too dry. I added about 1/8 of a cup of white wine (I had Riesling in my fridge) and blended again. After about 30 – 40 seconds I had this:Take out the dough and separate into balls. I experimented with size and I think that between walnut and golf-ball size is perfect. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and use a fork to press down on each one to flatten it slightly. They’ll look kind of like oddly colored peanut butter cookies.Brush the egg white over the top and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. I used white and black sesame seeds- I thought I’d want the black for color but I think the white tasted better. I didn’t have any poppy seeds on hand to try. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until brown and sort of soft-looking. Let them cool before you try one because they’re really hot.I think these must have come from some of our Israeli cousins who relocated to Canada from Haifa. They have a very Israeli feel to them- almost like boreakas without the filling. I think once you make these once with this recipe, you could then experiment with ways to play with flavors. Maybe adding some herbs or garlic. They’re good but I could see even more cheesy or spicy. If I make them again, I’ll report back on my combos.