In the daily routine of every restaurant, mise en place takes up an extraordinary amount of a cook’s time before each service begins.
It translates as “everything in its place” and boils down to prep work: picking and washing herbs, dicing veg, filleting meat. If you aren’t heavily organized by the time the first guest arrives, you’ll find yourself in the weeds. The same can be said when you’re entertaining guests at home, one of the many reasons why I love these cheese straws. While they’re delicious served warm, they require next to nothing of you on the day of your gathering: They can be prepared up to a month in advance and go straight from freezer to oven.
Keith Froggett is the co-owner and executive chef of Scaramouche in Toronto.
1½ cups gruyere cheese, grated
1½ cups Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound (500 grams) puff pastry
Combine the cheeses with the cayenne, paprika and salt.
Store-bought pastry usually comes in two sheets that roll out to a rectangle that is 9 by 18 inches and ¼-inch thick. Roll out both sheets.
Brush or mist both sheets with a little water, then sprinkle ¼ of the cheese mixture overtop of each.
Using a rolling pin, lightly press the cheese into the pastry.
Slide pastry onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the fridge to firm up for about 20 minutes.
Remove from the fridge; place the sheets cheese side down and press the remaining cheese into the exposed sides.
For each sheet, fold 1/3 of the pastry from the short end to the centre; fold the other short end up and over that. Turn it to a horizontal position and roll out again into a rectangle ¼-inch thick.
Cut widthwise into ½-inch-wide strips. Twist each strip from each end to make a spiral.
Lay the cheese straws in a single layer on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the freezer until frozen. (Once frozen, wrap tightly. They will keep well for up to a month.) Bake from frozen in a single layer at 385 F for 15 to 20 minutes until puffed and golden. Serve warm.