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story.lead_photo.caption Spicy Feta Cheese Crackers - Photo by Kelly Brant

One of my new year rituals is to sort through, organize and cull the contents of my refrigerator. For areas filled with items with short shelf lives such as meat and produce drawers, there isn't much to do but discard any stray twist ties and give the drawers a good scrubbing.

But as for the rest of the fridge, the task is a bit more daunting.

Tucked among the bottles of hot sauce, jars of jam and cruets of vinaigrette lurk mysteries that should have been discarded long ago or bits and bobs of potentially useful items.

And sometimes the amounts are substantially bigger than a bit or bob. Sometimes they're blocks — as in two unopened blocks of feta cheese that managed to get pushed to the hinter region of the cheese drawer.

The blocks, though unopened, had sell-by dates of Jan. 4 and Jan. 31. And while most use-by, sell-by and best-by dates are rather arbitrary (the terms are unregulated and are not indicators of freshness or safety), I figured I should go ahead and use the one dated Jan. 4.

Another one of my new year rituals is to sort through the backlog of recipes in my "to-make" stack.

In a serendipitous turn, I had come across a recipe for feta cheese straws just a day or two before while sorting the "to-make" stack.

In the end I used both blocks. I baked the first into straws as the original recipe directed. For the second batch, I cut the dough into little crackers. Both were delicious.

Spicy Feta Cheese Straws or Crackers

4 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into cubes

8 ounces feta cheese, chilled and roughly chopped

¾ cup PLUS 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon medium-hot red pepper flakes such as Aleppo or Turkish (see note)

1 tablespoon milk, half-and-half or sour cream

In a food processor, combine the butter, feta, flour, salt and red pepper flakes and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the milk, half-and-half or sour cream and process until mixture starts to clump together, about 15 seconds. It will be crumbly.

Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead into a ball. Divide in half. Shape each half into a flat disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each disc into a large rectangle about ¼-inch thick. If making crackers, prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork. Using a sharp knife or pastry wheel, cut dough into long strips for cheese straws or small squares for crackers.

Carefully transfer dough to the prepared baking sheets (I used an offset spatula). Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until deep golden brown. Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

These taste best if eaten the day they are made. If you have any left over, store them in an airtight container and "refresh" them in a 350-degree oven for about 5 minutes.

Note: Aleppo and Turkish pepper flakes are available at spice and specialty shops. You can substitute regular crushed red pepper flakes, but because they are much hotter than Aleppo or Turkish peppers, I recommend reducing the amount to ¼ to ½ teaspoon.

Recipe adapted from culturecheesemag.com

Food on 01/09/2019

Print Headline: Fridge cleaning leads to feta crackers

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