|Guests enjoying the foods we prepared|
|Little Sweet Peppers|
|My Cheese Mixture in little Sweet Pepper halves|
Cheese Balls and VariationsCheese Balls come in so many types and styles that there is really no particular way to make them. Almost any cheese, as long as it is either a smooth, soft type like cream cheese, chevre, blue, Gorgonzola and the like, with something that can be shredded, like cheddar, Jack, Parmesan or others, can be bound together into a cheese ball. It seems that little individual cheese balls have started popping up lately in magazines and on TV, but I came up with this concept on my own a little over 2 years ago. I thought of making tiny individual balls for this Open House, but then remembered those little sweet peppers and went that direction instead.
|"Cheese Ball" Filled Sweet Pepper|
Many recipes for cheese balls, if left to soften at room temperature, are also good as a spread, or can be if thinned a little with milk or oil. In this case, I opted to leave out the bacon and go for a more herbal mixture. It seems that cream cheese is a sort of universal "base" or binder for other things. I really wanted to use goat cheese, but chevre tends to be a little crumbly, so cream cheese came to the rescue once again. I had planned to use plain chevre and add my own herbs. I did add more of my own herbs, but while perusing the options at the local grocery, I decided on a 4 ounce log of lemon flavored chevre and a 4 ounce log of garlic and herb flavored chevre. Between these two, there would already be a tasty base for the mixture. Other things to add to a cheese ball are so numerous it hardly seems possible to ever cover them all. I chose dried cherries for a sweet note, and used dill and parsley as the extra herbs.
|Tetiana made these Mini Cheesecakes with Jam and Raspberry|
Though this new mixture was used to fill little sweet peppers, it could just as easily be formed into a ball and rolled in more herbs or nuts or cheese. Once chilled it is plenty firm enough to be used this way. Additions to this cheese ball recipe could be things like cracked black pepper (which I meant to use and forgot!), finely chopped fried bacon, nuts left in small chunks instead of ground. Cooked chicken could be finely chopped and added, or smoked salmon or trout. For more ideas see the recipe on my website here.
If the mini sweet peppers are not available where you live, regular bell peppers of assorted colors would also work. They would need to be cut into approximately 1 1/2 x 2-inch sections. If the cheese mixture is fine enough, it could also be piped or scooped onto endive leaves, cucumber or zucchini medallions, celery sticks or even carrot coins. These ideas can be seen here.
Herbed Goat Cheese (Ball or Spread)
|Herbed Goat Cheese Filled Sweet Peppers|
8 ounces chevre such as lemon and/or herb flavors
8 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh dill
1 1/2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, or more, if desired
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
1/2 cup nuts, chopped or ground (I used walnuts)
1 pound bag mini sweet peppers
Allow the cheeses to soften at room temperature for about 1 hour. Place all the cheese into a bowl and with a hand mixer whip the cheeses until smooth. Add in all the remaining ingredients except the peppers and mix again to evenly distribute.
Cut off stem end of the peppers, then slice them in half lengthwise. Remove any seeds and membranes. With a small knife, fill each pepper half and smooth evenly. They can be served as is, or topped with a dill or parsley sprig. if desired.
If making a cheese ball, once all the ingredients are well blended, allow the mixture to firm up in the fridge. Once firm, scrape all the mixture together and roll into a ball. Roll the ball in one of the following: ground of chopped nuts, minced herbs (for this recipe, a combination of more minced dill and parsley), or shredded cheese such as finely shredded Swiss, or Parmesan or Romano.
My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.