My internet has been on the fritz so I didn’t get this posted in time for Christmas, but it’s a good, old-fashioned treat for any cocktail party at any time. The home-made version tastes nothing like the ones you buy in the store!
CLASSIC CHEDDAR CHEESE BALL
There are many variations on a cheese ball, but I went with 13 year aged cheddar ball.
2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Process all ingredients except nuts in a food processor until very smooth. Transfer the cheese to the center of a large piece of plastic wrap.
Pull all 4 corners together and twist so cheese forms a ball. It will be a little squishy.
Form it with your hands into a round shape. Once the cheese ball is chilled you can fine-tune the shape. Refrigerate until firm; at least 3 hours, or overnight. The cheese ball can be chilled for up to a week.
Lightly toast the sliced almonds in a dry pan. Watch closely as they burn easily. Cool.
Once the cheese ball is firm, reshape if necessary. Unwrap the cheese ball and roll it in the toasted nuts. Serve with your favorite crackers!
SWEET SPICED NUTS
These nuts are addictive and a treat any time, but I like them during the Christmas season. Use unsalted nuts. They store well in airtight containers for up to 3 weeks. Recipe is easily doubled or tripled. They make a nice hostess gift!
2 large egg whites, slightly beaten
2 Tbsp. water
2 tsp. salt
2 pound nuts: unsalted raw pecans, cashews, walnuts or whole unblanched almonds, or combo of all
1 1/3 cup sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. coriander
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk egg whites with water and salt in a large bowl. Add the nuts and toss to coat. Drain in a colander for 5 minutes.
Mix sugar with spices in a large bowl. Add the drained nuts and toss to coat thoroughly. Spread nuts evenly on prepared baking sheets and bake until dry and crisp, 40-45 minutes, rotating and switching position of baking sheets halfway through. Cool nuts completely. Break apart and store in airtight containers.
Sorry, no photo!
AND I DID MAKE THE CRESCENT CRANBERRY BRIE WREATH I TALKED ABOUT LAST TIME…
CRANBERRY AND BRIE CRESCENT WREATH
The home-cured prosciutto from Jay Bileti paired perfectly with this not-too-sweet breakfast roll.
2 packages crescent dough
8 oz. good quality brie
About 1 cup home-made cranberry sauce
1 egg, slightly beaten
|This Tripe Crème Brie worked perfectly!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Open all crescent triangles and join together at wide end. Place a tablespoon of cranberry on each roll. Cut brie into thick wedges and top the cranberry with the brie.
Fold the pointed end around the cheese and cranberry and tuck underneath the wide end of crescent dough forming a circle, aka wreath!
Brush with egg. Sprinkle on a little coarse salt and fresh thyme leaves. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
CHRISTMAS DAY IS COMING TO AND END,
BUT THIS IS A SEASON SO KEEP ON ENJOYING
RIGHT INTO THE NEW YEAR!