Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cheese Ball!

While discussing what would be on the menu for DD1's graduation open house (coming up in 18 days!), she and I had an awesome idea.  We had been talking cheese and cracker tray, but lamenting how unappealing sliced cheese looks after being exposed to air for as little as half an hour (because we buy cheese in blocks, then slice, shred, or cube it ourselves, saving money and avoiding the preservatives used when you buy cheese in those altered forms).  We would still like to serve cheese, but not have it look rubbery and, well, gross, shortly after being served.  So our revelation was to serve several cheese balls instead of sliced or cubed cheeses.

And, since we are of the DIY mindset, both for saving money and for the health benefits of eating foods prepared in this manner, serving cheese balls means we must learn to make cheese balls in the next two weeks!  Then DD1 innocently asked me what type of 'finger food' she could bring to her AP English Class end-of-the-year tea party.  Seeing an opportunity for practicing my cheese ball technique, I replied "Cheese ball!"

I found a very easy, but also tasty sounding recipe in one of my most-used cookbooks, omitted the one ingredient I didn't have readily on hand, and created a one-pound ball of cheese spread rolled in freshly snipped chives (from my herb bed).  DD1 took it to school.  The AP English Class feasted, and played croquet on the school lawn.  The leftover cheese ball returned home.  This was all that was left: 

Maybe a third of what was originally sent.  Considering that there were only about a dozen people in attendance at the tea party, and it was a feast with many other edibles than just my cheese ball, I'd say this recipe was a hit.  Definitely made the cut for the open house.  :0)

Next I want to attempt one with dill.

Here is the recipe for the cheese ball pictured above:
2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 cup shredded sharp (or extra sharp) cheddar cheese (about 4 oz block)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup fresh chives, snipped

Put your cheeses in a bowl and let sit at room temperature until soft.  Beat in onion and Worcestershire sauce on low speed of a hand mixer.  Once creamy, beat on medium speed, scraping bowl often, until fluffy.  Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

After sufficient chilling time (8 hrs minimum), shape cheese mixture into a ball.  Roll in the snipped chives.  Place on serving plate (I used the lid of a Tupperware storage bowl, then used the bowl as a cover for transport to school!).  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 more hours before serving.

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