When my family was younger, the holiday season inspired many days happily cooking away in the kitchen preparing gifts for teachers, swim coaches, debate teams and others. The house would be filled with the heavenly aromas of ginger and cinnamon; the kitchen warm and cozy. Together we would fashion dozens of cookies, trays of finger foods, jars of lobster stew and pans of coffee cakes.
Now that the tribe has left the nest and scattered, our daughters are creating their own holiday kitchen traditions. Emily recently telephoned from upstate New York seeking a recipe.
“Remember the cheese balls we made”, she inquired. “The beautiful ones that Daddy used to decorate. ” Fond memories indeed, in particular the year we were literally a cheese ball factory, making more than 40 of the savory blend.
A quick check in my library of cookbooks and I found the tattered and stained page with the recipe, decorated with smudges of red pepper and green parsley. This original recipe for this delicious cheese spread uses cream cheese mixed with a good sharp cheddar, a strong blue cheese and garlic and green onion. These days I’m inclined to use a local goat cheese instead.
The decorating part takes a bit of time, and is really best done in an assembly line process. Score the sections of the cheese ball, and using a spoon, pat the different toppings into each section. Use separate pieces of wax paper to catch the droppings, so you can scoop them up and use again.
These creations also freeze well, and I have shipped them to places like Arizona and California. To complete the gift, add a box of specialty crackers or loaf of French bread in a paper bag with fir boughs and let the party begin.
Decorated Cheese Ball
- 1 1⁄2 pounds plain goat cheese or cream cheese 3- 8 ounce packages
- 1⁄4 pound Roquefort or Bleu cheese
- 1⁄4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese grated
- 1⁄4 cup chopped green onion or chives
- 2 tablespoons chopped green olive
- 2 tablespoons chopped black olives
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped red pepper or pimento
- 2 tablespoons crisp bacon chopped (or nuts)
- 2 tablespoons chopped capers
- Divide the goat cheese or cream cheese into three parts. Mix one part with the Roquefort cheese, one part with the grated cheddar cheese, and one part with the green onion and garlic. Pile each part on top of each other and shape into a ball. Mark the ball with a knife into 6 sections.
- Cover each section with one of the following: chopped green olive, chopped black olive, chopped fresh parsley, chopped red pepper, chopped crisp bacon and chopped capers. Refrigerate.