This blue cheese ball recipe has been around forever and I absolutely love it. I literally have it once a year on Christmas Eve at my Aunt Joyce and Uncle Ernie's house. In fact, I look forward to it every Christmas Eve. To me, it wouldn’t be a traditional Christmas Eve without this cheese ball (and of course our Italian tradition of the seven fucking fishes).
Well tonight is New Year’s Eve, and I’m starting my new year's resolution early. While most people, including me, make new year’s resolutions for eating healthier and exercising more, I’ve decided this year that one of mine will be to not wait for a party or holiday to eat all of my favorite party foods. There’s no better way to end the old year and to bring in the new year than to eat something that makes me happy. I don’t want to wait for another Christmas Eve or another party before I have this cheese ball again. Here is the recipe so you too can enjoy this cheese ball all year long.
Adapted from Cooking Light, September 2007
Makes 6 servings
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350°.
Step 2: Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl; stir until well blended. Stir in artichoke hearts.
Step 3: Spoon artichoke mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until artichoke mixture is hot and begins to brown. Serve warm.
Adapted from Jose Andres: Tapas a Taste of Spain in America
Adapted from Gourmet, September 1996
For the crust
For the filling
Accompaniment: baguettes cut diagonally into thin slices and toasted lightly
Step 1: To make crust: Preheat oven to 325° F. and butter a 10-inch springform pan.
Step 2: In a bowl with a fork stir together crust ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. Press mixture into bottom of pan and bake in middle of oven 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Step 3: To make filling: In a bowl with an electric mixer beat together filling ingredients and salt and pepper to taste until very smooth.
Step 4: To assemble torte: Pour half of filling into crust.
Step 5: Drop dollops of pesto over filling and spread carefully to form an even topping. (Some filling may show through.) Top pesto layer with half of fig slices, overlapping them slightly.
Step 6: Pour remaining filling over figs, spreading evenly.
Step 7: Bake torte in middle of oven 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until top is golden brown and set. Cool torte in pan on a rack (filling will deflate slightly). Chill torte, covered loosely, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.
Step 8: In a small saucepan stir together preserves and vinegar and bring to a simmer. Remove pan from heat and cool mixture. Stir in salt to taste.
Step 9: Slice remaining pound figs into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove side. Spread torte with preserves mixture, leaving a 1/4-inch border, and top decoratively with remaining fig slices. With 2 large metal spatulas transfer torte to a serving plate.
Step 10: Serve torte at room temperature to spread on toasts.
Step 1: To make cups: Preheat oven to 375°F.
Step 2: Cover stack of phyllo with 2 overlapping sheets of plastic wrap and a dampened kitchen towel. Put 1 phyllo sheet on a work surface and brush with some butter, then top with 2 more sheets of phyllo, brushing each with butter.
Step 3: Cut buttered stack into 6 (4 1/2-inch) squares with a sharp knife, trimming sides as needed. Line each of 6 muffin cups with a square. Make 6 more phyllo cups (4 are extra, in case of breakage) in same manner with remaining pastry sheets and butter.
Step 4: Bake cups in middle of oven until golden, about 8 minutes, then cool completely in pan on a rack.
Step 5: To make filling: Increase oven temperature to 400°F.
Step 6: While cups are cooling, melt butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, then whisk in flour. Cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes.
Step 7: Add milk in a stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking.
Step 8: Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard, yolks, and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano until combined, then fold in goat cheese. Cover surface of mixture with wax paper if not using immediately.
Step 9: Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer until they just hold stiff peaks.
Step 10: Fold one third of whites into sauce to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
Step 11: Spoon batter into 8 phyllo cups and sprinkle with remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake in middle of oven until soufflés are puffed and golden, about 15 minutes.
Step 12: Make salad while soufflés bake: Whisk together vinegar, mustard, and salt in a bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.
Step 13: Just before soufflés are ready, toss frisée and radishes in a large bowl with just enough dressing to coat. Mound salad onto 8 plates and sprinkle with chives, then make a small nest in center of each.
Step 14: Place a soufflé cup in each salad and serve immediately.
Adapted from Tyler Florence: Tyler's Ultimate: Brilliant Food to Make Any Time
Step 1: Combine thyme, parsley, tarragon and mint leaves on cutting board and chop them finely together.
Step 2: Unwrap log of goat cheese and roll it in the chopped herbs, pressing the herbs to adhere. Preheat oven to 350 F.
Step 3: Cut baguette into thin crostini-style slices and drizzle with a little olive oil and bake 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly browned and crisp. Let baguette slices cool.
Step 4: Top each crostini with slice of herbed goat cheese. Top with sun-dried tomato and garnish with fresh basil leaves. Makes 16 to 20.
Adapted from Mario Batali: Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home
Step 1: In a 10- to 12-inch saute pan, heat 2 cups olive oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 370°F.
Step 2: Add the eggplant slices 3 or 4 at a time and fry, turning once, until soft and light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Step 3: Preheat oven to 375°F.
Step 4: In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, scallions, and nutmeg and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 5: Lay the eggplant slices out on a work surface and place 1 tablespoon of ricotta filling at the base of each slice. Roll the eggplant up around the filling to form a neat roll and set seam side down on the work surface.
Step 6: Lightly oil the baking dish just large enough to hold the eggplant roll-ups. Put the sauce into the dish and place the rolls seam side down in the sauce. Bake until the cheese starts to melt out of the rolls about 15 minutes.
Step 7: Drizzle with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Step 2: Leaving the peppers stem intact, cut a slit from the stem to the bottom tip of each pepper and remove seeds. Alternatively, you can cut the top stem off of each pepper and remove seeds.
Step 3: In a bowl combine the goat cheese, snipped herbs, garlic, salt and black pepper. Spoon the mixture into the peppers.
Step 4: On a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray arrange the peppers in a single layer. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes or until peppers are tender crisp.
Step 5: Arrange the prepared peppers into a pyramid shape on a small platter and garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Step 1: Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
Step 2: Slice tomatoes in half. Place on jelly roll pan. Drizzle with olive oil and Kosher salt.
Step 3: Roast in oven for up to 3 hours at 250 degrees F.
Step 4: Serve with crostini.
Adapted from Jose Andres: Tapas a Taste of Spain in America
For the potatoes
For the allioli
Step 1: For the allioli: Break the egg into a small mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, garlic clove, and the vinegar or lemon juice.
Step 2: Using a hand held mixer or food processor, mix at high speed until the garlic is fully pureed into a loose paste.
Step 3: Then little by little, add the remaining olive oil as you continue blending at high speed. If the mixture appears too thick when you begin adding the oil, add 1 teaspoon water to loosen the sauce. Continue adding the oil and blending until you have a rich, creamy allioli. The sauce will be lovely yellow color. Add salt to taste.
Step 4: For the brava sauce: Cut each tomato in half lengthwise. Place a grater over a bowl and grate the open side of the tomatoes into the bowl.
Step 5: Strain the grated flesh through a sieve to produce 1 1/2 cups of tomato puree.
Step 6: Pour the olive olive oil into a small pan and warm it over a low flame. Add the tomato puree, sugar, bay leaf, paprika, and cayenne. Raise the heat to medium and cook until the mixture reduces by one-fourth and becomes a deep red color, about 10 minutes.
Step 7: Remove from heat. Add the vinegar and salt to taste, and reserve.
Step 8: Prepare the potatoes: Pour olive oil into a deep saucepan and heat it to 275 degrees. Place the potatoes in the oil and poach them, frying them slowly until soft, which normally takes between 8 to 10 minutes. The potatoes won't change color but they will soften all the way through. You can test for softness by inserting a toothpick; if it comes out easily, the potatoes are done. Remove them from the pan and drain. Set aside.
Step 9: Raise the temperature of the olive oil to 350 degrees. Return the potatoes to the pan. Fry until they are crisp and brown, about 6 minutes. Drain, and sprinkle with salt to taste.
Step 10: Drizzle the brava sauce on a serving plate. Top with the potatoes and the allioli, and sprinkle with chives. Place some toothpicks on the side of the dish for serving.
Adapted from Chef Jose Andres
Step 1: Whisk shallots, scallion, 4 tablespoons olive oil and vinegar in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 2: Slice open the top of each pepper to create a pocket. Spoon cheese into peppers, dividing it equally among them.
Step 3: Heat a large frying pan over medium heat; add 2 tablespoons of oilve oil. Cook peppers, flipping once, until cheese begins to melt, about 30 seconds each side. Transfer to a platter.
Step 4: Sprinkle with parsley and thyme. Drizzle dressing over peppers and serve.
Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2010
Step 1: For the Romesco Sauce: Combine wine, tomatoes, and garlic in small saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
Step 2: Transfer tomato mixture to processor. Add peppers, almonds, and oil and blend until coarse puree forms. Transfer to small bowl. Season to taste with coarse salt and pepper. Can also be made 2 days ahead -cover and chill and let stand at room temperature 1 hour before using.
Step 3: For the Scallops: Before cooking the scallops, be sure to remove the muscle, which can be tough when cooked. Find the muscle by looking for the white strip that runs up the side of the scallop. You can usually pull it off with your fingers, but you may need to use a paring knife to tease the muscle away from the rest of the scallop.
Step 4: Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Wrap 1 prosciutto strip around center of each scallop half, pressing ends together to seal. Arrange scallops on prepared sheet. Can be made 4 hours ahead - cover and chill.
Step 5: Preheat broiler. Brush scallops lightly with oil; sprinkle with pepper and lightly with coarse salt. Broil scallops until opaque in center and prosciutto is almost crisp, turning scallops over halfway through broiling, 1 to 2 minutes per side, depending on size of scallops. Arrange scallops on platter. Top each with small dollop of romesco sauce and a few thyme leaves.
Step 1: Prepare grill for cooking. If using a charcoal grill, open vents on bottom of grill, then light charcoal. Charcoal fire is hot when you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 1 to 2 seconds. If using a gas grill, preheat burners on high, covered, 10 minutes, then reduce heat to moderately high. You can also use a broiler instead of a grill.
Step 2: Lay bell peppers on their sides on lightly oiled grill rack or on broiler pan and roast, turning occasionally with tongs, until skins are blackened, 10 to 12 minutes.
Step 3: Transfer to a ziplock bag or brown bag and let steam 10 minutes. Peel and seed peppers (reserving juices), then cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips.
Step 4: Stir together peppers (with their juices), garlic, oil, sea salt, and pepper and marinate 30 minutes at room temperature.
Adapted from Gourmet, May 1994
Step 1: In a skillet bring water to a boil and add fresh salmon. Reduce heat and poach salmon at a bare simmer, turning once, about 4 minutes, or until just cooked through. Transfer salmon to a bowl and cool.
Step 2: Flake fresh salmon and add smoked salmon, butter, shallots, parsley, lemon juice, mustard, capers, Cognac or other brandy, zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir mixture until combined well and pack into a 1-quart terrine or bowl. Rillettes may be made 4 hours ahead and kept chilled, covered.
Adapted from Jose Andres: Made in Spain, Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen
Step 1: Whisk 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, the vinegar, shallots and scallions together in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 2: Cut a small slit into each piquillo pepper and slide a stick of cheese into each pepper.
Step 3: Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add the peppers and brown on both sides until the cheese begins to melt, about 30 seconds.
Step 4: Transfer the peppers to a serving platter, drizzle with some of the dressing and sprinkle with leaves from thyme and parsley sprigs. Serve immediately.
Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Step 2: Clean mushrooms and remove stems from caps. Finely chop stems.
Step 3: In a large frying pan, saute stems, onion, green pepper, pepperoni, and garlic in butter for five minutes. Add all other ingredients, except mushroom caps, and stir over heat for one minute.
Step 4: Stuff caps with the mixture.
Step 5: Place in a pan and bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Serve warm in a chafing dish.
In August 2009, Amy and I spent two days hopping from vineyard to vineyard in Sonoma County, California. After a full afternoon of wine tasting at 5 different vineyards, we stopped in Yountville - a foodie's heaven - for dinner. Because Yountville has so many, not just good, but great restaurants, we had a difficult time making a decision where we wanted to spend our evening. Would it be Ad Hoc, Bouchon, Bottega, Red, the French Laundry? I literally felt like a kid in a candy store. We decided to do a progressive dinner and try as many as we could in one evening.
Our first stop, for appetizers, was Bouchon, Thomas Keller's more affordable country French bistro. We chose Bouchon because we didn't plan far enough in advance to make reservations at the French Laundry. The salmon rillettes were one of several small dishes we ordered there. This recipe is absolutely brilliant. It is a delectable mixture of smoked salmon, fresh salmon, and of course lots and lots of butter. You must try this at least once in your lifetime - and if you can't make it to Bouchon, try making it yourself. The recipe looks a little intimidating but it is fairly easy and the ingredients are readily available
Step 1: Trim and discard any dark flesh from the salmon fillet. Place the fish in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle each side with 1 tablespoon of the Pernod, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and one-fourth teaspoon white pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes, turning the fish over halfway through the marination.
Step 2: Bring water to a simmer in the bottom of a steamer. Remove the salmon from the baking dish and place it in the steamer and cover with the lid. Steam gently for 5 to 8 minutes; if you see steam pouring out the sides of the steamer, lower the heat. Check the salmon by separating the flesh with the tip of a knife and peering at the center. It should be medium-rare. When it is cooked, remove from the steamer.
Step 3: Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium saute pan over low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the shallots have softened but not browned. Remove from the heat.
Step 4: Put 7 tablespoons butter in a small bowl and beat with a rubber spatula until it is smooth and resembles mayonnaise in consistency. Stir in the creme fraiche. Set aside.
Step 5: Put the cooked salmon in a large bowl and stir to break it into large chunks. Because you will be stirring in the remaining ingredients, you don't want to break up the pieces too much.
Step 6: Stir in the smoked salmon, shallots, lemon juice, olive oil and egg yolks. Season assertively with one-fourth teaspoon salt and one-half teaspoon white pepper, since this will be served cold. Fold in the butter mixture.
Step 7: Transfer the rillettes to 2 ceramic or glass serving bowls, leaving at least one-half-inch of space at the top. Smooth the top of the rillettes and wipe the inside rims clean.
Step 8: Refrigerate for about 1 hour, until cold. Pour a one-fourth-inch-thick layer of clarified butter over the top of the rillettes to seal. (To clarify butter, melt the remaining one-half cup -- 1 stick -- butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Do not let it brown. Remove it from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes. A white foam will collect on top. Using a large spoon, remove the foam. Carefully and with a steady hand, pour off the clear yellowish liquid, leaving the milky solids at the bottom.)
Step 9: Cover the bowls and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. To serve, break through the butter layer and remove it. Spread the rillettes on toast or crackers and sprinkle with chives. (Once the butter is removed, eat the rillettes within 2 days.)
Thomas Keller's version
For the crab dip:
For the crackers:
Step 1: For the Crab Dip: Place cream cheese, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor and process until thoroughly combined.
Step 2: Place drained fresh lump crabmeat in a bowl and fold in cream cheese mixture, being careful not to break up the lumps. Add chopped chives and combine.
Step 3: For the crackers: Add melted butter, minced garlic, and chopped parsley together in a small bowl. Brush mixture on top of saltines.
Step 4: Bake at 375 degrees F until light brown.
Step 5: Slice cherry tomatoes in half, place on jelly roll pan, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 6: Place spoonful of crab dip on toasted saltine and top with roasted cherry tomato.