Cheese sticks

Makes about 60


2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 pound (or one package) frozen puff pastry, defrosted


1.  Toss: In a small bowl, toss together cheese, red pepper and cumin seeds. Set aside.

2.  Roll: On a lightly floured work surface, roll out puff pastry into a large rectangle. Position the rectangle vertically. Scatter the bottom two-thirds with half the cheese mixture. Cover with wax paper and press in cheese by rolling gently with rolling pin. Set aside wax paper.

3.  Fold: Fold the blank top third down and the embossed bottom third up, like a cheesy love letter.

4.  Repeat: Roll out into a big rectangle again. Scatter the remaining cheese across the bottom two-thirds. Press in cheese, as before. Fold, as before. Roll into a big rectangle again.

5.  Cut: Using a pizza cutter, cut the rectangle in half lengthwise. Set one half on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Turn it lengthwise. Starting at the bottom, cut the dough into 1/2-inch thick strips, stopping 1 inch short of the top edge. All the strips will remain attached to this top border, fringe style. Repeat with remaining dough.

6.  Twist: Grasp each strip at the free end and twist. Rest the handle of a wooden spoon on the finished free ends, to prevent untwisting.

7.  Freeze: Slide the pans of twisted cheese sticks into the freezer. Freeze at least 1 hour (or, later secured in a plastic container, up to 1 month).

8.  Bake: Snap the frozen cheese twists off the backbone. Separate slightly on the parchment-lined pans and bake at 375 degrees until just crisp, 14-15 minutes. Cool on a rack. These make wonderfully crunchy hors d’oeuvres and get along well with soup.