|In the South, cheese straws and biscuits are de rigueur for entertaining; elsewhere they are a popular cocktail snack—or simply great with a beer. Mamie’s Famous Cheese Wafers, which claims to be the first slice-and-bake hors d’oeuvre, is a real find. A peppery cheese biscuit, it keeps in the freezer until you have guests, then wows them with the aroma of Cheddar, the taste of Southern pecans and a complex palate that’s sure to please. You do virtually nothing except slice and bake and accept compliments.
Sometime in the 1800s, recipes for cheese straws began to appear in cookbooks. At the simplest level, they were easy cheese doughs. Take flour, baking powder, grated cheese and some salt; then knead, roll out the dough and cut with a pastry wheel into long, narrow strips (the “straws”). The original cheese straws were said to have been made from leftover biscuit dough and baked along with the biscuits, but served as snacks instead of with meals. More evolved recipes used complex cheeses and spices, added nuts and herbs and created different shapes—twists and rounds, for example. Today, according to the makers of Mamie’s Famous Cheese Wafers, they are “absolutely a Southern party requirement. They are served at parties, weddings, showers, holiday celebrations and ‘just because.’”
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One bite, and you’ll know why these
cheese waters made Mamie famous.