Camellia’s Favorite Cheese Ball Recipe…

49653C9F-73D3-498D-8708-B1D4F2827009This Cheese Ball recipe is a real time saver. I love it because it keeps well chilled, is able to take on different shapes, even freezes like a dream! And ! A Cheese Ball  seems welcome at any occasion! After school goes back in session, football season begins, then tailgating and fall gatherings and holidays seem to come one right after the other! We all know we’re going to need ‘something to take’ or serve! And let’s face it- hardly anybody passes up Cheese and Crackers! This recipe lends itself to as many variations as you can think of! Change up the variety of cheeses, add walnuts instead of pecans, even add dried cranberries- it’s all up to you! now, you have to admit, these cheese balls shaped like big apples would be fun in the Fall! And while you’re at it- make up several types of cheese balls, logs or rings and save a few in the freezer!7C3C2ED8-11B4-4882-A204-2F35408015F5

Here’s how you make Camellia’s Favorite Cheese Ball-

  • One Pound Sharp Cheddar Cheese- grated
  • 8 ounce package Cream Cheese – softened
  • 1 small onion- finely grated with juice
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

In  food processor, mix cheeses. Add in Worcestershire, salt and pepper- blend well. By hand, add in pecans until well blended. Shape cheese mixture into 2 large balls and chill. May also shape into logs or into a ring. Chill.

  • Mix together 1 1/2 teaspoons mild paprika and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. With a fine mesh strainer, sift over cheese balls or logs- even small appetizer size balls served with toothpicks! Serve with assorted crackers. If shaped into a ring, fill with strawberry, cherry or fig preserves. * Strawberry is my favorite!

*For variation, roll cheese balls in finely chopped pecans. Or as another variation- use 12 ounces of Sharp Cheddar and 4 ounces of Cheddar Jack and proceed as above. **These cheese balls freeze well, however- wait to sprinkle with paprika mixture before serving for a prettier presentation.0B3B06E0-84E5-4D1A-BCA1-8A2D2D828C32

One of my favorite ways to serve these cheese balls, is to roll them into apple shapes and cut small branches with a leaf or two attached- just make sure the branch is safe and pesticide free. Cheese balls are wonderful all year round on charcuterie boards,  though especially good for fall gatherings, tail gating, a Halloween buffets and all the way through the holiday season!

Love y’all, Camellia

*photographs are obviously mine!

 

 

Faux Cheese Souffle…

IMG_2673I do not have in my possession- a Southern cookbook that does not have multiple recipes for the classic French soufflé – sweet and savory, for dessert, a side dish or even a main luncheon dish. The Classic Cheese Souffle, is a true high wire act of

  • whisking egg whites,
  • preparing an egg yolk custard base,
  • then carefully folding in the egg whites;
  • not to mention not opening the oven or the whole thing will collapse-

Well, who wants to go through all of that? And though soufflés are stunning- they must be served immediately. The truth is though, most Southern cooks who make souffles regularly will tell you they are not hard, the base can be made hours ahead and chilled- it’s all of that whipping egg whites and folding right before baking that makes souffles seem high wire and in danger of falling flat! Even so, Cheese Souffle seems to have been considered part of a Southern cook’s repertoire to the extent that quite a few cookbooks even have a strong suggestion that Bless-ed is the Bride who can pull off at least one soufflé for her new husband! I would go a step further and say- Bless-ed are the guests who are served at least one soufflé!  Recipes abound for Bride’s Cheese Souffle, some are blatantly named Mock or Fake Cheese Souffle, just in case poor Audrey Virginia Wallace-Calvin needs to see can’t fail in black and white print!

Darlin’ we know you bragged to John Wesley Calvin III, that you could actually cook, but believe me, you can fool him with this one!’ IMG_2675

It has literally been decades since I have even attempted to make a real soufflé, yet in Spring with eggs in plentiful supply, milk and sharp cheddar cheese on hand; I decided to make a Faux Cheese Souffle. I assembled the ingredients the night before. The Faux Cheese Souffle was surprisingly easy, it is light and fluffy with full flavor, holds very well and can also be re-heated. Let me tell you how it was done:

                                                              Faux Cheese Souffle

  • Butter an 8 cup soufflé dish generously
  • Trim the crusts from 8-10 slices of white loaf sandwich bread. On one side only, butter each slice, then cut in fourths.
  • Finely grate 1 pound of sharp cheddar cheese (must be sharp or even extra sharp cheddar) Divide in half.
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Salt
  • 2 cups of Whole Milk
  • 1½ teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of dry mustard (I prefer Coleman’s®)
  • Pinch or two of Cayenne Pepper

Layer half of the buttered, quartered bread in the bottom of buttered soufflé dish, making sure bread is buttered side up. Cover with half of the grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese. Repeat this with more buttered bread and the other half of the grated cheese. In a bowl-

Whip the 4 large eggs well, add salt, then whole milk and spices mixing well. Pour this mixture over the layered bread and cheese. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours. Preheat the oven to 350º uncover faux cheese soufflé mixture and bake- center rack of oven for 45 minutes to one hour. The soufflé will be puffed, golden brown and bubbly, with the center of the soufflé set. * The addition of bread is what helps the soufflé hold up, the overnight soaking keeps the soufflé light and fluffy. You may serve immediately or allow to cool for a buffet table, a meatless meal, a light luncheon or with Baked Ham or Roast Beef or Petit Filet Mignon. IMG_2671

A side salad is wonderful or crudites of fresh vegetables. Serves 6-10. This is a light but rich dish!  I hope you’ll give it a try- impress yourself, your family or even your guests and only you will know it’s a Faux Cheese Souffle!

Love y’all, Camellia

*photographs are obviously mine. Recipe was gleaned from several cookbooks I own- I adjusted seasonings to my liking, some do not call for dry mustard, some call for more or less Worcestershire sauce and others (though rarely) omit cayenne pepper.

Cheese Straws…

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Real Southern Cheese Straws are a must-have pick up food particularly if you live in the South. I can hardly think of an occasion when Cheese Straws are not appropriate.

  • Baby Showers
  • Afternoon Teas
  • Anniversary Parties Cocktail Parties
  • Gatherings,Open House
  • And yes, Funeral Food

We do adjust the amount of spice depending on the event, an expectant mother may not be able to tolerate heavy spice, nor can mourners be expected to appreciate a Cheese Straw which in anyway indicates a ‘Hotter than Hades’ flavor, it just wouldn’t send the right message for the bereaved.  From the cradle to the grave, with Cheese Straws we know we can count on a savory bit of crunch whether festive or as a consolation. No self respecting Southern Hostess would be caught dead without Cheese Straws on hand, whether she can actually make them or not. In fact, give Southern Hostesses several dozen Petit Fours, a  pound of fresh toasted Pecans. some small handmade Mints and Cheese Straws- and we can throw an Afternoon Tea fit for the Queen. The problem is that most Southern folks who know how to make good Cheese Straws hold the recipe in the family vault and have been known to sweetly give forth a recipe but accidently leave out an ingredient or a critical part of the method- so that others will say, ‘Well, these are good but they sure don’t taste as good as Dixie Jean’s; nobody can make ’em like she does!’   Southern Cheese Straws are not made with puff pastry sprinkled with cheese, twisted and baked.Those taste like cheese flavored cardboard by comparison. The difference in homemade Cheese Straws and purchased- is like comparing a pan of homemade macaroni and cheese to the cardboard box version.  fullsizerender-3Real Cheese Straws are a spicy, flavorful short pastry. An elevated pie crust dough, put through a cookie press. My press is dedicated solely cheese straws! Some ladies inherit their momma’s press, which is a sturdy metal, not those flimsy plastic models! So, with that in mind- I have decided to be magnanimous and share my recipe with you. I try to keep Cheeze Straws ready to bake in the freezer -so that in 15 minutes I have a hostess gift, an unexpected occasion or to bake fresh for drop in guests. A good Cheese Straw recipe is invaluable. Just understand at the getgo that this is not just a recipe – it is also a method.

Camellia’s Southern Cheese Straws

  • 1 pound of chilled sharp or extra sharp Cheddar Cheese- grated by hand (Don’t you dare use already grated in a package!)
  • 1 1/4 sticks of  cold butter, butter flavored shortening or butter flavored oleo margarine (I actually prefer oleo because real butter has milk solids in it and can result in a stickier dough and one that will not dry out as it should while baking.
  • Grate cheese and oleo into a large bowl and cover with a clean flour sack towel. Let sit over night to soften. Sorry, but this is a two day process.img_1623Toss the Cheese and Oleo together gently when softened, until just mixed.
  • Sift together 2 cups of plain flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of paprika and  1/4-3/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper- depending on how spicy you like them- I like them spicy!
  • Carefully toss the flour mixture into the cheese mixture with your hands, the dough will be tough if you don’t. Mix well into a soft dough. A food processor works well for this- if the dough seems stiff add a bit more oleo. Do not chill.
  • Use a cookie press with a star plate. Put just enough dough in to almost fill the tube. Press out approximately 4inch strips onto an ungreased cookie sheet. *Note: I put the filled cookie sheet(s) into the freezer at this point- when frozen I pack them in freezer bags and label. If I need Cheese Straws right away, I put them in the refrigerator to chill, while the oven is preheating. Chilling helps the Cheese Straws keep that cute squiggly shape!
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Make sure Cheese Straw dough shapes are not touching or crowded on the pan.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until dry but not brown. Store in a tin or airtight container after the Cheese Straws have cooled completely.
  • Hide them from yourself and others until the gathering- otherwise you will never have enough. They can be baked ahead and gently crisped up in a 350 degree oven but Sugah, you really have to watch them. No side trips to watch General Hospital or Guiding Light. Heat for just a few minutes being careful not to brown. *That rule always applies- dry but not brown.
  • This recipe makes 4-6 dozen Cheese Straws. I usually double it and freeze at least half, for other occasions.fullsizerender-5

If you don’t have a cookie press, please don’t despair. Your Cheese Straws won’t be as cute as mine- but you can gently roll this dough and cut into 3/4″ by 4 ” strips. Some roughen the dough a bit by running the tines of a fork through the dough before cutting into strips. Bake as directed. Another method would be to put the dough into a pastry bag and with a medium to large star tip, the dough can be pressed out into smallish dots- adjust cooking time for this! Dry but not brown is the rule.Some have been known to roll the dough into a log, chill or freeze and then cut into rounds for crackers. However, the Southern thing to do is to commit to the idea that Cheese Straws are a necessity, then buy, beg or borrow a cookie press to make them! Let me know if you decide to make them- I won’t have a 24 hour hotline but if there’s trouble, bless your heart, I’ll get back to you as soon as possible, or as a dear baker said- If it doesn’t work- start over. Truly, once you make them I think you’ll be convinced, Cheese Straws are the ultimate in good taste.

Love y’all, Camellia

 

 

Purses, passion and pimento cheese…

imageThis is my grandmother, Betty Jo Sparks Holmes, standing by a fence in Alabama with her small son and her young brother. This photograph was taken in the late 1920’s. She was a working woman beginning in the late 50’s –  because her husband and her son were disabled. For almost 20 years she rode a bus to downtown Birmingham to work as a florist. She could squeeze a dollar harder than anyone I have ever known and get more out of it too! She was passionate about her work, her home and her family; always making sure her home was clean and beautiful and that there was something on the table that was fit to eat. To this day some of the best food I have ever eaten, the best meals I make, came from MiMi.  I still use her recipes and methods to make good food for my family or for pretty tea sandwiches –2015-06-05 12.02.11 I even grocery shop with her advice filling my head! No one ever left her home hungry; she was immensely talented and seriously funny. She believed in the old ways of putting out fresh tea towels, using the good silver often and being grateful enough to write a thank you note or compassionate enough to write a sympathy card. And she continued to do these things whether her pocketbook was full or not. This week, in her honor and in honor of other amazing women I know- I hand painted a ‘spring collection’ of notecards with cute little handbags.image

Susan B. Anthony said, ‘A woman should always have her own purse.’ This week in Birmingham Alabama, 100’s of women, with purses of their own, raised over $600,000 for victims of domestic violence. The YWCA Purse and Passion luncheon has been raising money and awareness in Central Alabama for over 15 years, they do an amazing amount of work which benefits women and children who often do not have access to safety or a purse of their own. These passionate women are proof that when a woman has a ‘purse of her own’ she can be a tremendous help and an outspoken voice for less fortunate women. The YWCA of Central Alabama is living proof that a passionate young woman named Susan B. Anthony was right about women and their ability to be a force for good and actually do need a purse of their own! In the 19th century, she began fighting for women to have the right to go to school, she went to school then began her own career as a teacher who fought for decent wages for teachers. She became convinced that women should have the right own personal property and earn a decent wage no matter what work she did. Ms. Anthony believed that the only way these things would ever become the law of the land was if women also had the right to vote. The passionate activist, Susan B. Anthony, died before women received the right to vote early in the 20th century, 1920, I believe. In Alabama, 90 years ago this week,voting rights for women weren’t  extended until 1956, more than 30 years after the rest of the nation.  Fast forward to the 21st century as famous Alabamian, Lily Ledbetter, also fought for several decades for equal pay for women. A bill with her name on it was signed in 2009- more than 100 years after Susan B. Anthony died. Yes, ‘Women should have a purse of their own.’

As a bonus, to honor these women- I will make available the closely guarded recipe for my grandmother’s award winning pimento cheese.

It is the best pimento cheese you will ever eat! If  you register your email address with Camellia’s Cottage, we’ll let you in on it! Use the sign up box or email:  brenda@camelliascottage.com

As always we will never ask for your height, your shoe size, when you started dying your hair or where you were when you got those redbug bites. We will never share your email address with anyone, we will never ask if the weight on your driver license is the same as the weight showing on your bathroom scale, we will always let you unsubscribe if you want to- but we hope you won’t, because we’ll never let you leave Camellia’s Cottage without knowing that we are grateful you stopped by! We’ll leave the light on…

Love y’all, Camellia

Grace and Grit –http://amzn.to/1XzrcBX Grace and Grit

Susan B. Anthony –Susan B. Anthony

YWCA YWCA

Visit YWCA of Central Alabama’s website – www.ywcabham.org