Mum’s Cheese Ball

It’s been a while, but I’m back. Sometimes life just gets in the way of blogging. Especially food blogging!

If you were to think of one food that your family absolutely loves and devours almost the instant it hits the table – what would it be? For me, it’d be this dish. A simple but sophisticated bowl of cheese ball.

How long has this recipe been around? God only knows. There is no arguing this recipe is decades old. It is from my Mum’s collection of dishes she usually makes for a dinner guests, probably more so in the nineties. It is the ultimate crowd pleaser recipe. The recipe I remember, as a child, dinner guests not leaving without.

It is rather an odd mix of ingredients that make it what it is. Unlike traditional cheese ball recipes, this one doesn’t end up in a ball, rolled in sesame seeds or nuts. I personally think this makes it even easier to eat and tastes great with crackers, crostini or carrot sticks.

Mum’s Cheese Ball

  • 250 grams cream cheese
  • 1 cup cheese, grated
  • 2-3 gherkins
  • 2 tbsps tomato sauce
  • 1 onion
  • 1/4 cup parsley (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds or chopped walnuts

In a food processor, mix together the gherkins and the onion and blend until very small. Add the cream cheese, cheese, and tomato sauce. Add some parsley if you wish. Pour mixture into a bowl and sprinkle some sesame seeds or chopped nuts over the top. Cover with gladwrap and refrigerate until required. I find if this dish is left overnight the flavours really develop! Enjoy.

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Feta and Paprika Cheese Straws

It is fair to say, I love a good dip. Cheese ball, hummus, salsa, pesto, or just the well-known kiwi onion dip. Yip, dip rocks! Needless to say I’m often on the lookout for things to dip in dip.

From memory, they were big in New Zealand in the seventies, being cheap and relatively easy to make. I came across this recipe in the one of the midweek papers a couple of weeks ago. To be honest, at the time, I was more caught drooling over the plum sauce recipe than the straws but since I am very much plum-less…I had to make do.

A word of warning – these are very addictive! Pair them with some homemade plum sauce and you’ll have yourself a rather attractive looking snack! They’re best eaten warm from the oven, but if you need to make them ahead, leave them to crisp up in a cool oven before removing to an air-tight container – they’re less likely to soften.

Feta and Paprika Cheese Straws

  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 60 grams butter, diced
  • 1/2 a cup grated cheese
  • 1/2 a cup feta cheese, crumbled

To make the cheese straws, preheat your oven to approx 190 degrees. Grease an oven tray. Sift the flour and paprika into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. I found I had to add a little more water to the mix at this stage as it seemed a little dry! Stir in both the grated cheese and the crumbled feta cheese.

Next, lightly beat the egg and add to the mixture. Stir until a dough is formed and then roll out on a floured surface. You want to make sure the dough is roughly 5mm thick before slicing into strips. I  found a pizza cutter (if you have one!) was ideal for this part.

Transfer the strips onto a cooked tray lined with paper. Lightly brush with a bit of milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Bake for around 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack and store in an air tight container.

This recipe makes approximately 16 straws.

Mini Savoury Muffins

Soft, moist, bite-sized morsels. This recipe is all that, and more. Today’s blog post includes a gem of a recipe I managed to pinch politely ask a colleague for. Savoury muffins are great for picnics, weekends or to just keep in the freezer for weekday lunches. What I really like about muffins is that you can add anything you like to the mix…feta, spinach, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, cooked pumpkin, chives, you name it!

Savoury Muffins

Adapted from Edmonds Cookery Book’s Savoury Muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 50g butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • Sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 packet feta cheese
  • Sun dried tomatoes – chopped finely
  • Vegetables – I used 1/2 onion, 1 cup of pumpkin, 1/2 courgette, several mushrooms, but anything goes.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. It is best to dice all vegetables and steam or microwave first. Dice feta. Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and feta. Add vegetables and sun-dried tomatoes to dry ingredients. Melt butter and combine with milk, egg and sweet chilli sauce. Add to dry ingredients. Mix to combine, but remember to not overmix.

Spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tray. I used mini muffin tins

Bake at 180 degrees for at least 15 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack five minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

I thought these mini muffins could use some jazzing up in presentation and had some fresh rosemary which I chopped up a bit to add on top. They came out really nicely, you could also use chopped nuts (e.g. Pistachio’s)

Finally, I encourage you all to share, swap recipes with friends, family, colleagues. Cooking is a wonderful thing. I used this recipe for my Week 3 entry for Wellington on a Plate ‘muffin’ category and won the week. More on this soon.