The weekend is here, and I’m sure you’ve got several happening shindigs to grace with your presence. If there is one thing I know for absolute certain, it’s to never, EVER come to a party empty-handed. There’s always something to bring. Your host or hostess will definitely appreciate it, and you’ll totally win extra points. It shows that you appreciate both the invitation, and the people who’ve invited you into their home. And it doesn’t always have to be food. Bring wine, bring flowers, bring napkins, BRING ICE. Bring something useful, and your host will never forget it. There has never been such thing as too many party supplies. Sooner or later, everything gets used. Boy do I love a good party. I don’t go to nearly enough of them, and I hardly get invited to fancy dress get-togethers, so when I do, I try to go all out. But when thinking of the perfect arrival gift to my Nashvillian bestie Hailey’s house, I had a few things that I needed to consider: One, I’d be in my grandparents’ kitchen which meant a limited amount of kitchen tools and appliances, and two, a limited amount of refrigerator real estate. (My Grandmothers are seasoned veterans in the kitchen and there is always something to eat.) Then it hit me: a cheese ball. I’d recently been introduced to the, and best of all, it checked off three very important things on my dish to pass checklist: It took me about 45 minutes to make this cheese ball, and most of that time can be shaved down if you have a food processor. I didn’t, so I had to use my trusty pastry blender (a well-deserved Christmas gift to myself. I’ve got happier wrists now). Your cheesy mix must rest for two hours snugly wrapped in cling wrap, having been delicately shaped into a sphere. Six to eight minutes of your resting time should be spent roasting your walnuts and pecans. The rest of the time it takes to make your cocktail party masterpiece can be used to…paint your nails, pick out a killer outfit, or, in my case, bug your grandmother incessantly to break out the family pictures so that you can pretend to reminisce about an era that you took no part in. And once the two hours are up (though I actually left it in the fridge for four hours or so), just give your walnuts and pecans a rough chop, carefully roll your cheese ball around, and wrap it back up in cling film if you plan on transporting it. Et voila! Your totally easy, yet utterly sophisticated party snack is ready for its closeup. And don’t you dare forget the fancy crackers that go along with it! You’re sure to amaze, and make some new friends in the process. Who knew a ball of cheese could be such a conversation starter? I ain’t mad at it. Horseradish-Sharp Cheddar Cheese Ball
- 8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 8 oz grated super sharp cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons horseradish sauce
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup pecans
Blend cream cheese, cheddar, and horseradish using a food processor or pastry blender until smooth, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place cheese mixture on a piece of cling wrap, then use cling wrap to shape mixture into a ball. Chill until firm for at least two hours.
While the newly formed ball is chilling, preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and place your walnuts and pecans on a baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper. Bake for 6-8 minutes, tossing occasionally. Keep them in the oven until they’ve darkened a bit, and give off a fragrant aroma. Let cool, then give them a rough chop.
Thirty minutes before serving, roll your ball in the roughly chopped walnut and pecan mixture, and enjoy.
Source: Adapted slightly from Bon Appetit