On some evenings Jacqueline Kelm (The Joy of Appreciative Living) sits in her driveway with a drink, and greets passersby. Niece Lorrie has chilli with her cul-de-sac neighbours every Hallowe’en night. We have sudden street parties. The last one was because our daughter Joy presented us with an anniversary bottle of sparkling pink fizz. The “party” was so ridiculously unplanned that everyone (if not holidaying in Mexico) showed up. That included Paul and Jan who had just moved in 2 days earlier.
It’s surprisingly easy to not-plan an impromptu party. You put a tablecloth on a table in the street, plant your bott of fizzy to hold it down, plus a few beers discovered at the back of your garage, sit and wait. People, chairs, drinks and crunchies soon appear. The talk and laughter and playing children drift on through the summer evening until darkness falls, and candles are lit around 10.30. Then we remember that tomorrow is Monday and it’s time to go home. Sheer, utter, simple, wonderful bliss.
Cheese Straws to nibble on with drinks
I blush to confess it was some time after my marriage to an Englishman that I discovered that Cheddar was actually a place, not just a cheese. Then it dawned on me that all the other English cheeses were place names, too. Sometimes a brain is very slow to click.
For this recipe choose a good strong cheese whose taste will survive the oven’s blast.
Take a 500 gm block [17 ounces] of commercial puff pastry and roll it out into about 1/2 cm (a quarter inch) thick. Sprinkle a hefty layer of grated cheese in the middle third of it. Fold over the right hand flap, and sprinkle another hefty amount. Fold over the left hand flap, turn the dough so that the folds are at top and bottom. Roll out into a strip again, and repeat process. Use lots of cheese – 500 (1 lb) gms, if you can.
When you can’t fit any more cheese in, roll out the pastry again. Brush with beaten egg. Cut in strips with a pizza cutter. You may find that the passionate little suckers curl lovingly around the cutter wheel, but break up that romance, and lay them out in roasting pans lined with baking paper, about ½ inch apart. Bake in a moderately hot oven (like 375 degrees) 15 to 20 minutes, depending how thin they are. Serve warm. Always. Yield: 3 roasting pans [or cookie sheets] worth.
- Add snipped chives with the grated cheese.
- Sprinkle sesame seeds or poppy seeds on the egg-coated pastry before cutting.
- Spread the teensiest bit of wholegrain mustard on the pastry before sprinkling on the cheese.
- Add thin strips of parma ham to the flaps before adding the cheese.