(April 30, 2021) According to Wikipedia, entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience or gives pleasure and delight.
That being said, the art of entertaining depends on the particular occasion, one’s budget, and a well thought out menu.
For superlative results, devotion and careful planning are a must even for the simplest occasion.
Homemade cheeseballs are the perfect party food because they are easy to make, can be made ahead of time, and can be customized for any festivity.
Once you understand the basic components, you will want to incorporate this first course into your repertoire of possibilities. With that thought in mind, let’s get started.
The foundation of every great cheese ball starts out with cream cheese. This type of cheese has structure and can easily be altered for flavoring purposes.
Make sure the cheese is room temperature; if it is cold, it will not mix evenly with the other ingredients.
For every eight ounces of cream cheese, you want to add approximately 12 ounces of another type of cheese or a combination of cheeses. Mozzarella, cheddar, gouda, parmesan, blue cheese, goat cheese, and Pepper Jack are just a sampling of your many options.
It is best to purchase a block of cheese and grate it yourself. One might be wondering what is the difference? Grated cheese can be on the dry side and should not be used for room temperature dishes. If your dish is going to be served hot, grated cheeses are convenient and perfectly acceptable.
Once your basic cheese ball is achieved, you need to flavor it. Garlic powder, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and lemon juice are popular choices.
Specificity equates distinction. I prefer to add some of the ingredients that the cheese ball is going to be coated with in the filling. By doing so, the exterior and the interior of the cheese ball forms a cohesive bite.
For example, the following recipe will be rolled in crunchy bacon, toasted pecans, fresh scallions and sweet roasted peppers. So, a small amount of these ingredients is mixed into the actual cheese ball. This not only heightens the overall taste of the ball but brings about consistency.
Always taste the combined filling of your cheese ball before adding salt; remember, cheese is high in sodium.
At this point, you want to shape your cheese ball. Cheese balls are customary, but a log shape can be quite attractive.
Sometimes the cheese ball can be on the soft side, that is why it is recommended that one refrigerate the ball before rolling it in the exterior mixture.
The final step is the actual coating. This is the first thing that your guests are going to see, so it must look appealing. Nuts, bacon, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried fruit, bacon, herbs, potato chips and pretzels add crunchiness and also enhances beautification.
Cheese balls can be frozen for future use. However, the crispy coating does not hold up to the thawing process. Freeze the cheese ball without the outside coating, and when you are going to serve it, whip up a fresh batch of coating.
Cheese balls can be served with crackers, toasted baguette slices, vegetables, or fruit. Fresh herbs or flowers are a stunning garnish and complete this appetizer.
If you are having a large crowd, keep a reserved cheese ball to the side. As your guests continually help themselves, the cheese ball can literally have that “cut up” look. Half way through the event, bring out a fresh cheese ball with the accompaniments.
The following recipe, Cheese Log Encrusted with Crispy Bacon and Toasted Pecans, is packed with flavor and can be served year-round. If you are a cheese lover, you must give this recipe a try. Enjoy!
Cheese Log Encrusted with Crispy Bacon and Toasted Pecans
12 ounces cream cheese
¼ cup half and half
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/3 cup scallions, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/3 cup roasted peppers, finely chopped
½ cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheese
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper seeds
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
2 splashes of fresh lemon juice
kosher salt to taste
1 ½ pounds bacon, cooked, and finely chopped
2 ½ teaspoons black sesame seeds
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
1 ½ tablespoons very coarsely ground black pepper
1. Place cream cheese and cream in medium bowl and using a hand-held mixer, whip until fully blended.
2. Bake pecans at 350 degrees until lightly toasted, about 12 to 15 minutes.
3. Using paper towels, squeeze any excess liquid from scallions and parsley. Place chopped roasted peppers on paper towels to absorb any excess liquid. You may have to do this step several times.
5. In a large bowl, combine cheeses, pepper seeds, hot sauce, horseradish, lemon juice, and one-third of the bacon, pecans, scallions, parsley, and roasted peppers. Mix thoroughly and add salt to taste.
6. Place bowl with cheese mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
7. In the meantime, place the remaining bacon, pecans, scallions, roasted peppers, along with the black sesame seeds, toasted sesame seeds, and black pepper on a baking sheet. Mix until ingredients are evenly distributed.
8. Remove cheese mixture from the refrigerator. Carefully roll each log in the bacon mixture until completely coated.
9. Wrap each cheese log loosely in parchment paper or wax paper and then tin foil, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Placing the cheese log directly on the parchment paper or wax paper will allow it to be transferred more easily.
10. Place cheese log on plate and serve with favorite crackers, vegetables, or fruit. Garnish with fresh herbs or flowers.
* If you have a food processor, chop the bacon and pecans for a smaller chop.
Also, this recipe will yield two cheese logs.
Secret Ingredient – Fun. “If you are not having fun, it’s your own fault.”
– Rich DiGirolamo