Thursday, May 22, 2008

It's Not a Party Without a Cheese Ball

It's not a party without a cheese ball.

This is simply a fact. Salsa is super, guacamole is great, and that veggie tray is very nice, but the party cannot truly begin without a ball of cheese. I do not know who first came up with this idea, but I applaud them for creating a true party food. A cheese ball is not something I make for dinner, or pretty much any time I am not having guests. But if people are coming over, you better believe one is coming out.

So what makes a good cheese ball? Well, if you buy them from the store, that would be processed cheddar cheese, chemicals, and that odd red color they manage to obtain by some unnatural process. As you have witnessed many times before, I am not a fan of this. I prefer to make my own. And why not? It takes about ten minutes to make, probably costs less, and sure tastes a lot better. Plus you can tailor a ball o' cheese to whatever party you are throwing or attending. Italian night? Throw in some Parmesan and basil! Mexican? Green chiles and a little cumin, please. Asian inspired? Make something else! Just kidding, but a little hoisin and chili paste will do wonders.

The basic cheese ball consists of two types of cheeses, some seasonings and additions which are then all rolled into ball and coated with chopped nuts. That is pretty much the whole picture. The main component of a cheese ball is cream cheese. This gives you the texture you want, a creamy and mild flavor, and brings most of the bulk. Its offset by a sharper cheese, I use cheddar. A little seasoning and you are pretty much done. The last thing to do is to roll it in nuts. I like pecans, but walnuts work just fine. Just make sure they are pretty fine, you want a little bit of crunch but not enough to offset all of the creaminess of the cheese. Oh, and doubling this recipe is pretty much the norm for parties

Cheese Ball
1-8 oz package of cream cheese
1/4 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 T minced pimento (do not leave this out)
2-3 T grated cheddar cheese
few pinches of garlic powder
pinch of pepper
pinch of salt
chopped walnuts or pecans

Soften cream cheese and blend in mixer. When whipped, add the rest of the ingredients (except for nuts). mix slowly until combined, remove and shape into a ball. Roll in the nuts and refrigerate for about an hour (or more) before serving. Enjoy!


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