Ham and turkey aside, the holiday season is really the sweet season and behold!—the sweet season is upon us!
From holiday cookies to candy canes and from Lindt chocolate bears to egg nog, you’re never too far from some form of sugary overload.
Although I would classify myself as having a sweet-tooth, it is good to have a couple of savory options up my red and white fur-trimmed sleeve, so here are two dishes that I would prefer any day to a holiday cookie: rosemary cheese twists and pistachio Parmesan biscuits.
They offer a cheesy, salty diversion that works on many levels and of course, they are buttery and delicious.
What’s more, they are a real win-win as the kids can get involved in making them, whether that means shelling the pistachios or twisting the pastry for the cheese twists. Even better news: you get to enjoy them later with a glass of wine and some cheese. Should I ever compile a dictionary, that would be the very definition of a family working as a team. Amen.
So, ’tis time (and let’s face it, you only ever have permission to use the word “tis” during the holiday season) to share the recipes. Let’s start with the rosemary cheese twists as they are the easiest.:
Rosemary Cheese Twists – Ingredients to make about 24
- 16 oz packet of frozen puff pastry
- 3 oz grated Gruyere cheese
- 1 oz grated Parmesan cheese
- A few sprigs of fresh rosemary (remove the hard stem and chop finely, if you don’t have any fresh the dried will work too)
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- A sprinkle of sea salt
Follow the directions on the puff pastry, most pre-made puff pastry needs to sit out an hour before you use it.
In a large bowl mix the cheeses, rosemary and cayenne.
Preheat the oven to 400°F and put some parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
Some pre-made pastry comes pre-rolled, but if necessary, roll the pastry out so it is 1/2” thick, then cut with a knife or pizza cutter into strips. It is up to you how wide and long to make them, but I prefer them about 3/4” wide and about 4-5” long. Take the strips one at a time and twist, rolling into the cheese mixture. Make sure you press hard so as to coat the pastry.
Next, arrange your newly twisted twist on a cookie sheet, sprinkling with sea salt before baking for about 15 minutes. (Note that if you made yours thicker, they might need a few more minutes cooking time.)
Once they’re out of the oven, the really difficult thing is to let them cool before trying…
Pistachio Parmesan Biscuits – makes 12-15
- 3oz unsalted butter (cold and chopped into small pieces)
- 3oz white flour, sifted
- 1oz shelled pistachios
- 3oz grated Parmesan cheese
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper
First of all chop the pistachios so they are quite small.
Then in a medium bowl, rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips. You can start to stir in the other ingredients when the mixture resembles coarse sand.
Rub the ingredients so they start to form fairly large clumps. Then press the mixture against the side of the bowl to bring it together.
Transfer to a board and knead lightly, then roll into a sausage shape until it is about 6” long. Wrap it all in plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes, or you could leave for longer until you are ready to bake them.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and then slice the chilled log into discs about 1/4” thick, spreading them evenly on the cookie sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes until they start to go golden around the edges and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Again, try to resist tasting them until they have cooled down.
Serve with crumbly cheese and a glass of something splendid—tis the right thing to do.