Friday, November 30, 2012

Got cheese?

I love cream cheese... (1)
There's this decadent feeling you get when you cut into a cheese ball. I don't know why cheese balls are different from any other appetizer or finger food, but for me, it leaves a rich impression. I almost always buy one during the Thanksgiving holidays, either for putting out before the main meal, or just to sit and munch on during  a movie with the kids. This year, I decided to make our cheese ball.

I was zooming around on Pinterest a few weeks ago and found a recipe for a cheddar cheese ball. I swear I bookmarked it, but when I went back to find it, it was gone. Damn you, Pinterest! After looking online and realizing I didn't have the stuff to make any of the cheese balls mentioned there, I had almost resolved myself to purchasing one last minute, when a light bulb came on.

If all those other people can mix stuff together, so can I! I can cook, so I can make my OWN cheese ball recipe! And so I did. This is the result, and I am happy to say there was squabbling over the remains of it.

2 packages room temperature cream cheese or neufchatal
1 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp pesto
1 clove minced garlic OR 1/2 tsp dried minced garlic
several tbsps each of parsley and chives, minced

In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, pepper, pesto and garlic. I use the MixMaster with the paddle and it whips right up. Using a rubber spatula, form it into a ball shape in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.

On a large piece of plastic/saran wrap, lay out a layer of the mixed parsley and chives. I used fresh parsley, minced up with my mezzaluna, but my chives were freeze dried because I couldn't find fresh and my garden ones were pretty sad. Flavor-wise, I was glad I went with the freeze dried ones, because if I'd used my own dried ones, the taste wouldn't have been as good. Spread the herbs in a thin layer, then pick up your cheese ball and sort of roll it around on the herbs. They'll stick to the cheese.

Set the ball in the middle of the plastic wrap and bring the sides up. Twist the top closed firmly, so that the cheese and herbs are held together in a tight ball in the wrap. Now chill it for at least four hours. I made mine the night before, and it was just the right consistency.

Cheese ball heaven
This cheese ball turned out marvelously. It was nice and herby on the outside, and light green on the inside (the pesto turned the neufchatal green!). It was spreadable, attractive, slightly spicy from the basil, and gone before I could get a decent picture of it. This is the sole image of my cheese ball! The little "Christmas tree" is a cheese spreader that we had. It looked like there was a little tree sitting on a grassy hill.

Have you ever made your own version of a recipe before? What's your favorite? Care to share?

PS: We've added this post to the Homestead Barn Hop #90! Click the Homestead button to share your homesteading post.

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1) Photo by Renee Comet / Wikimedia Commons