Cheese Balls Encased with Crispy Bacon and Crunchy Walnuts

(Sept. 27, 2019) On Thursday, Sept. 19, I had the pleasure of doing a cooking segment with Lisa Bryant and Jimmy Hoppa for “Delmarva Life.”

We made veggie fries topped with marinara ketchup. The segment can be viewed by going to YouTube, and typing in “Delmarva Life, Deborah Walker, Veggie Fries.”

I also did a Facebook live cooking show the same day with Jimmy. He has an incredible sense of humor and is a joy to work with.

We made a cheese ball encased in crispy bacon and crunchy walnuts. The easiest way to view this is to google “Delmarva Life, Cheese Ball, Deborah Walker” and it will take you directly to the show on Facebook.

Live streaming is changing the way audiences view cooking shows. The basic format of live streaming allows viewers to participate in a “live chat” which makes it a more personable experience.

Many, many years ago I was on acting scholarship at Lee Strasberg Institute in Los Angeles and New York City and was also invited to study in London.

Classes with Bobby Lewis and Stella Adler reinforced my training. I do believe the acting classes has helped me indirectly with my cooking segments for television.

I also believe being glued to the tube for the Food Network’s “Star” competition has given me some insight. The judges give the competitors tasks to perform and are judged accordingly.

For example, one challenge is to cook, describe your dish, and engage with the camera at the same time. In other words, one should not stop cooking in order to converse with the audience; it has to be a continuous, fluid motion.

There is also an episode where the judges purposely set up a situation where something will go wrong and the competitors must work their way through it.

When Jimmy and I were doing the live cooking show, I opened the drawer to get a spoon and to my horror there was not a single spoon. But, there was an ice cream scoop, so I went with it.

I use to enjoy the improvisation classes at Lee Strasberg and feel they have given me the tools to help me work through awkward moments and trust my instincts.

I relish my times on “Delmarva Life.” Lisa and Jimmy’s professionalism and warm personalities not only help me relax but makes the entire experience a memorable occasion.

That being said, the holidays are around the corner and homemade cheese balls are always a hit.

One might ask, why go through all the trouble and expenses when you can purchase one in the store. The answer is simple, homemade dishes are far superior and come from the heart.

The following recipe can yield three small balls or a combination of one large and one small ball. Personal preference comes into play and the choice is yours.

One important note to make. I prefer a very coarse coating on the cheese balls. Because of this, the amount of bacon, walnuts, scallions and roasted peppers will have to be increased slightly.

Otherwise, you will not have enough ingredients to completely coat the cheese balls. Enjoy!

Cheese Balls Encased with Crispy Bacon and Crunchy Walnuts

Ingredients

1 ¼ pound bacon, cooked, drained, and finely chopped

12 ounces cream cheese

¼ cup half and half

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup walnuts

1/3 cup scallions, minced

¼ cup fresh parsley, minced

½ cup pepper Jack cheese, shredded

1 cup sharp cheese, shredded

1/3 cup roasted peppers, finely chopped, and drained of any excess liquid

1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper seeds

2 teaspoons hot sauce

2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

splash of fresh lemon juice

kosher salt to taste

3 teaspoons black sesame seeds

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

1 ½ tablespoons very coarsely ground black pepper

1. Place cream cheese and cream in medium bowl and whip until blended.

2. In a medium sauté pan, heat 1 ½ tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add walnuts and cook until the nuts have developed a crunchy exterior.

Remove nuts and allow to cool. Chop nuts and set aside.

3. In the same pan, add the remaining butter and sauté the parsley and scallions for 3 minutes.

4. In a large bowl, combine cheeses, parsley, pepper seeds, hot sauce, horseradish and half of the bacon, walnuts, scallions and roasted peppers. Mix thoroughly and add salt to taste.

5. Place the remaining bacon, nuts, scallions, roasted peppers and very coarse ground black pepper on a baking sheet. Add the sesame seeds to the mixture and make sure all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

6. Divide the cheese balls into 3 equal balls. Carefully roll each cheese ball in the bacon/sesame seed mixture until completely coated. The cheese will be soft but will harden when refrigerated.

7. Wrap each cheese ball in tin foil and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Serve with favorite crackers.

Secret Ingredient – Fun. “If you’re not having fun, it’s your own fault.”

– Rich DiGirolamo

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