December 3rd, 2005 - Barbara Feiner
Yesterday, I discussed the transformation of a once-dreaded holiday appetizer: the cheese ball. But you can make a truly inspired organic starter if you try some of the new approaches suggested by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board:
- Wrap your cheese ball in style. Use a higher-end nut, such as roasted pine nuts or hazelnuts.
- Wrap Brie in puff pastry, brush with egg wash, and bake for a sophisticated appetizer (“Brie en croute”).
- Go ethnic. As Emeril Lagasse would say, “Kick it up a notch.” Combine a flavored organic Monterey Jack cheese (such as pepper jack) with salsa, and roll it in toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds). Serve with organic corn chips.
One important note: This isn’t the time to roll out your fanciest homemade breads. Keep it simple (translation: relatively bland), and let the cheese ball be the star of the show. Perfect accompaniments include baguettes, nut breads and water crackers.
For best results, always bring your cheese to room temperature before blending it with other ingredients. Then, refrigerate the cheese ball until it’s firm. Before serving, bring it back to room temperature for easy spreading and enhanced flavor.
Read More:Organic Cheese Balls: The Sequel
December 2nd, 2005 - Barbara Feiner
Delicious Asiago cheese
It’s confession time: I’ve always had a morbid fear of cheese balls. Those prepackaged, way-too-orange dairy orbs that retailers roll out during the holiday season are seldom organic, and every ingredient is highly processed. Ugh.
I’m happy to report that culinary therapy has cured me of my disorder. Cheese balls, you see, are now considered a hip holiday appetizer—as long as they’re homemade with healthful organic ingredients.
The best news of all? They’re incredibly easy to prepare. Just mix, shape and refrigerate, advise experts from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
Here’s a great recipe for your holiday table. Note: Because you follow an organic lifestyle, Organic Authority recommends using certified organic ingredients, when available, in all recipes to minimize your risk of exposure to pesticides, chemicals and preservatives.
Savory Italian-Style Cheese Ball With Asiago and Fontina
Makes 25–30 servings
3/4 cup pine nuts
8 ounces (2 cups) Asiago cheese, shredded
2 ounces (1/2 cup) Fontina cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
4 ounces cream cheese, cut in chunks and at room temperature
2 tablespoons prepared, refrigerated basil pesto
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1/4 cup marinated sun-dried tomatoes, diced and dried well
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 5 minutes or until golden. (Check after 3 minutes and stir.) Pour onto waxed paper and cool.
- Place Asiago, Fontina, Parmesan and cream cheese in bowl of food processor. Process until well blended. Add pesto (drain first if the pesto is runny). Pulse to incorporate. If the mixture is too stiff, add half-and-half to desired consistency. Remove mixture to a bowl, and stir or work in tomatoes with hands.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour. Shape into ball. Roll ball in pine nuts, pushing nuts into ball, if necessary.
- Garnish with fresh basil and slivers of sun-dried tomatoes, if desired.
- Serve with crusty bread, Italian breadsticks or crostini crackers.
Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc.
Read More:Don’t Dread the Holiday Cheese Ball!