Friday, November 23, 2012
While we are on the subject of cheese (you DO have everyone say 'cheese' when you snap their picture, right?) let me tell you about an appetizer we had yesterday for our Thanksgiving feast. It was a big hit with everyone (all 5 of us!) and was easy to do. I was inspired by a recipe in the catalog of a local company, Kozlowski Farms. They make wonderful jams, jellies, salad dressings, mustards, pies, cookies and more goodies. The recipe was for a cheese ball coated with toasted pistachios. First they layered softened, whipped cream cheese with some of their yummy fig and muscat wine preserve. Since I had neither the nuts nor the preserve I went with what I did have. I also added a tablespoon of Greek style plain yogurt so that the cheese ball would stay just a little softer, which makes it easier to serve.
I had a delicious fig and caramelized red onion confit in the 'fridge which I used in place of the Kozlowski preserves. You could also use a pepper jelly. For the nuts I used toasted pine nuts. I also used reduced fat cream cheese and you would never know the difference in this kind of recipe. It was delicious on toasted baguette slices...the crunch of the toasts was a nice contrast with the creamy cheese. I only have a photo of the cheese ball before it was served. Once we started digging in no thought was given to taking pictures.
Fig and Caramelized Red Onion Cheese Ball with Pine Nuts
Base on a recipe from Kozlowski Farms
5 oz. Fig and Caramelized Red Onion Conserve
(or use a pepper jam)
2 -8 oz. packages lower fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1 tablespoon nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 bread baguette, sliced thin and toasted in the oven
Toast pine nuts in a pan over medium heat, stirring often, for about 2 minutes until golden. Set aside.
With a mixer, whip the cream cheese, herbs de Provence, and Greek yogurt until smooth and creamy.
Spread a length of plastic wrap at least 12 inches long over a clean counter or cutting board. Using a spatula spread on some of the cheese mixture. Using a teaspoon, spoon on some of the conserve. Repeat, with the top layer being cheese, until all the cheese mixture is used up. Some of the conserve may remain and can be used for another purpose.
Lift the edges of the plastic wrap, creating a ball of the cheese/conserve mixture. Tightly wrap the plastic wrap around the ball. Secure the plastic wrap. Place the ball in a bowl and refrigerate about 15 minutes to help the ball retain its shape.
Lay another two layer of plastic wrap on a clean counter or cutting board, with the second layer perpendicular to the first. Sprinkle the pine nuts in a circle in the middle. Take the chilled cheese ball and put it in the middle of the circle of nuts. Bring up the sides of the plastic wrap. If necessary, use your hands to help coat the sides and top with pine nuts. Wrap the cheese and nut ball in the plastic wrap and return it to the bowl. Chill until the ball is firm, about 3 - 4 hours.
Unwrap cheese/nut ball. Arrange on a platter and serve garnished with figs and slices of toasted baguette slices. Be sure to include a spreader for serving the cheese.