A cheese ball is not something that my siblings or I ventured downstairs for when our parents threw a dinner party. The fake fish sticks with tartar sauce beckoned us, but never the cheese balls.
When “Cheese Balls: 40 Celebratory and Cheese-Licious Recipes” by Dena Rayess (Chronicle Books, $16.95) landed on my desk recently, I burst out laughing. A cookbook dedicated to a ’60s and ’70s globe (sometimes glob?) made from canned, jarred and processed foods? Then I took the book home and read it. The recipes aren’t all dismissible. I flagged one featuring port wine, another mushroom and herbs, yet another Nutella. And they do offer a cheap, easy way to feed a hungry crowd.
While a cheese ball is nothing new, a cheese ball inflected with the flavors of an apple pie is novel, at least to me. And you know what? It tastes really good. Rayess suggests serving it with apple chips. The ball is sweet enough already, which is why I prefer it with butter crackers.
One bit of kitchen advice: Bake the pie crust while you’re cooking the filling. That way, the hot work is done in a single session. The next day, all you have to do is roll the ball in the pie crumbs and you’re done. The ladies from my mom’s parties back in the day would approve of that.
Reprinted from “Cheese Balls” by Dena Rayess with permission by Chronicle Books, 2018.
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