03 Mar National Nutrition Month Day 3: Great Balls of Cheese
Here is a recap of first few days of my National Nutrition Month blog project. My brother Jack is marrying a dietitian named Gena. I wanted to do something creative and special for her. I chose to review a month of books and each author was kind enough to donate a copy (signed, if possible) to Gena. Each day a new post featuring a new cookbook or nutrition book is posted — that’s the book Gena will receive. She has no idea I am doing this, but that makes this project that much more enjoyable!
Given that Gena is extremely creative in the kitchen, I thought this next book would be perfect to add to her collection. Plus, my family used to own a cheese store down on Chambers Street in New York City, so it only seemed fitting. Michelle Buffardi’s book Great Balls of Cheese features over 50 amazing cheese ball creations. Michelle’s creations are beyond adorable ranging from a Wise (& Cheesy) Owl featured on the book cover to the Chilly Penguin Michelle shared with me.
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces blue cheese
2 teaspoons chopped shallots
1⁄4 teaspoon coarse salt
Dash hot sauce, such as Frank’s RedHot
1⁄2 cup poppy seeds, for coating
2 dark raisins, 1 almond,
1 carrot, 1 red bell pepper (optional), and 1 scallion, for decorating
Crackers, for serving
- Using a stand mixer or a bowl and a spatula, mix together the cream cheese, blue cheese, shallots, salt, and hot sauce. Form the mixture into a ball and cover with plastic wrap;refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Before serving, remove a 2-inch piece of the cheese mixture, roll into a ball, and set aside; this will be the penguin’s head.
- Re-form the remaining cheese mixture into an egg shape.
- Cut out a triangle shape roughly the length of your cheeseball from a sheet of wax paper. Press the wax paper into the cheese ball, with the widest part of the paper on the widest part of the cheese ball. Roll the cheese ball in the poppy seeds and set the ball on a plate. Slowly remove the wax paper; the ball should be covered in poppy seeds except for the penguin’s breast.
- Set the head on top of the penguin’s body and add the raisins for the eyes and the almond for the beak.
- Slice off 2 equal-sized rounds of the carrot and arrange them on either side of the head as earmuffs. Connect the earmuffs with the green part of the scallion.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel 1 long strip off the carrot; wind this around the penguin’s neck as a scarf.
- Slice the remaining carrot into toes and arrange at the bottom of the penguin’s body to make its feet, or use two red bell pepper slices.
- Serve with crackers.
*Chef’s Note: If you prefer a sportier penguin, set this guy on two slices of red bell pepper to make him look like he’s skiing, but if you want your penguin to chill, set him on feet made from sliced carrots.
Reprinted with permission from the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt from Great Balls of Cheese by Michelle Buffardi. Photography by Jason Wyche. Copyright 2013.