There is no Party Cheese Ball in my recipe lineage. Lots of other wonderful family food. But no cheese ball. The only kind I ate as a kid was the prepackaged, almond coated ones from Hickory Farms. Do you remember Hickory Farms? Their stores and kiosks used to rock the malls during the holidays with all those fancy (or so I thought) summer sausage and cheese gift boxes. Maybe they still do. Just not around here. How would I know? I don’t mall shop. Anyway, growing up I never thought of the cheese ball as “scratch” food. Then I moved away from home and met Michele, who has become one of my dearest friends. She’s originally from South Carolina where they cook and eat a little differently than we do down in NOLA. And I’ve had the good fortune of eating some of her cherished family food, including her mom’s cheese ball. Oh, it’s sooooo good! Fresh. Creamy. Oniony. Perfect party food. Perfect picking food. Perfect comfort food. That whole experience got me wondering if cheese balls were a South Carolina thing. I did a little research and discovered they’re not. At least not exclusively. Much to my surprise, I also found various cheese ball recipes in several New Orleans cookbooks dating back to the ‘70s. Who knew? I tried a couple, but none were as good as Michele’s. The grated onion, with all its fragrant onion juice, sets her apart. I also like the fact that she doesn’t coat hers in anything. No nuts or herbs to run interference. For the sake of a good (decent) picture, I added a small amount of green onions to mine and dusted the top with parsley flakes. Don’t try that at home. Follow Michele’s recipe to the letter. You won’t be disappointed.
I have another suggestion that won’t disappoint on this Finger Food Friday, Great Divide’s 17th Anniversary Wood Aged Double IPA. In beer talk, it has a nice copper color with malty sweetness and earthy hops on the nose. In my language, it’s tasty and easy to drink. Same thing my hubby says about his Miller Lite!
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Party Cheese Ball Recipe
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 8-ounce package shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 medium onion, grated
2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins (Worcestershire sauce)
Dash of garlic salt
In a large bowl, combine cheeses. Add remaining ingredients (including juice from grated onion); mix well. Shape cheese mixture into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours or overnight. Serve with assorted crackers. Makes 1 1 1/2-pound cheese ball.