Quick chile-cheese and caraway-cheese bites

20071215_lunchathome_cheesechilebit.jpg

20071215_lunchathome_cheesechilebitThe starter is chilling in the fridge, the mains are bubbling away on the hob and the dessert is prepared and ready to be popped in the oven.  The wine is chilled, the table is laid and the guests are about to arrive. 

All is perfect… except for the fact that you forgot to buy the olives and marinated artichokes that you had planned to serve with pre-lunch drinks. 

Panic. 

Say bad words.

Take deep breaths, a swig of whisky and stop panicking.  Open fridge door, spot large chunk of cheddar.  Glance across at spice rack and see chile flakes and caraway seeds. 

Remember something seen on the lovely Pille’s blog last year.

Spirits lift (and I don’t mean the whisky). Slow smile spreads across face.  Springs into action like well-oiled machine (pun fully intended!).

CHILE-CHEESE AND CARAWAY-CHEESE BITES (makes about 30)

Ingredients

about two cups of grated full-flavoured semi-hard cheese (I used mature cheddar but would like to try pecorino!)
chile flakes and/or caraway seeds

Method

Cover a large baking sheet with baking paper.  Make small heaps of about a tablespoon each of grated cheese, spaced evenly across the sheet.  Make sure to leave about 5cm space betwen the heaps (and from the edge of the sheet!) as these babies spread like crazy.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 5-7 minutes.  Keep an eye on them and try to take them out only when the cheese is fully melted and is going a dark gold colour along the edges.  Leave them in for too short and they won’t harden; leave them in for too long and they will have the unpleasant bitter taste of overbaked cheese.  It’s a fine line.

While they are still hot and melty, sprinkle a pinch of caraway seeds or chile flakes in the centre of each bite – I did half with chile and half with caraway.

Allow to cool and when cool enough to handle (and slightly hardened), peel carefully off the baking paper.  Serve with drinks – ours paired very nicely thank you with hot mulled wine!

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  1. says

    What a great idea! I learned a similar recipe when I was in culinary school. They were called Parmeggiano crackers. We mixed the grated cheese with a bit of flour and dropped a puddle on a hot skillet. Using a spatula we formed them into long narrow shapes about an inch wide. They bubbled and crackled then we pulled them out and let them dry on oiled baking sheets. They look fantastic stacked poking out of a salad or little mound of mashed potato—they make everythign suddenly seem fancy!

  2. says

    Did you prefer one over the other? I’m really keen on the caraway and cheese combination myself. (Attended the Estonian Gastronomy Awards 2007 gala dinner last night, and caraway seeds featured in two courses – a true local favourite).

  3. nikki van der rijn says

    looks divine!
    can i ask though, why you always spell CHILLI as CHILE?
    chilli is food, chile is a country – well actually Chile (with a capital c) is a country.
    minor quibble, the recipe still looks delicious.

  4. says

    Hi Suganya
    Glad you like them! Trust me, they tasted as good as they looked :)
    Hi Alejandra
    Ooooh, your Parmiggiano crackers sound fantastic! I once had a Caesar salad that was served in a Parmiggiana “basket” – must have been done in a similar way but draped over something while still hot and then allowed to harden into a small basket. Yum!
    Hi Nic
    DO try them – they are soooo easy and the perfect nibble with drinks!
    Hi Pille
    I must be part Estonian because I LOVE caraway seeds ;-) I did prefer the caraway ones, but Nick who loves hot stuff adored the chili ones. Been wondering what else yuo could sprinkle on them… Very finely diced sun-dried tomatoes??
    Hi Inge
    Oh do yourself a favour and make them, sommer tonight, with a glass of wine while you cook! They are so easy but very hard to resist :)
    Hi Bellini
    I sometimes think that’s the only way to cook – working under pressure with the ingredients you happen to have at hand – it certainly works wonders on my creativity (and my powers of recollecting what I read on my friends’ blogs!)
    Hi Nikki
    Thanks for your comment on Cooksister and I hope you enjoyed your visit. The spelling possibilites are explained in the link below. Although there are three accepted spellings in English, I usually go with chile as it is the correct Spanish spelling, as in chiles rellenos.
    http://mexicanfood.about.com/od/mexicancookingfaqs/f/chileorchili.htm
    Hope all is now clear!

  5. says

    These look really yummy and will be great with drinks either before or after food. Definitely bookmarking this for later. Thanks for posting it! The husband loves cheese so I’m sure he’ll be thanking you haha.