Potlucks. I love to hate them. About the only time I find them tolerable is when it’s a dessert or appetizer potluck. A little haphazardness never hurt an appetizer or dessert buffet. So, when I was invited to a gathering recently and asked to contribute an appetizer, I cringed only slightly.
As much as I like to cook and can pull out a recipe for almost any occasion, this time I was short on both ideas and time. Surveying the contents of my fridge yielded little inspiration. There was cheese, more cheese, some sauces and other condiments, Vermouth, eggs, peanut butter. Tick, tick, tick. I needed to come up with something quick. Ding ding ding ding ding! CHEESE BALL.
OK, so a cheese ball is a decidedly lowbrow option. But, in this age of DIY, recycling and retro comfort food (are corn dogs really the new pork belly?) I knew I could pull it off. It helped that I had a recipe on hand from the talented and sassy Amy Sedaris.
You may have seen Amy Sedaris on Martha Stewart or Dave Letterman. Or perhaps you have even seen her book I Like You. Hospitality Under the Influence. I first fell in love with Amy when she played Jerry Blank on Strangers with Candy, but many people know her because she has a more famous brother.
Her book is a riot. The photos are styled to look like they are from the 1970’s and there are chapters like “The Rich Uncle Comes to Visit,” “Lumberjack Lunch” and “Cooking Under the Influence,” which includes a list of “Munchies.”
I haven’t cooked much from this book but have read it cover to cover. So when I needed an easy, last minute appetizer I was able to recall Amy’s cheese balls. My favorite part of this recipe is that she specifically calls for Ritz crackers. Because really, does any other cracker say “cheese ball” better than Ritz?
Captain’s Mouthwatering Bite-Size Blue Cheese Balls, by Amy Sedaris
1 cup grated cheddar
4 oz cream cheese
2 oz crumbled blue cheese
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp chopped green onions (optional)
½ tsp Worstershire sauce
1 Tbsp white wine or milk
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Bring all the cheeses to room temperature. Beat with mixer. Add butter, onions (optional), Worstershire sauce, and milk or wine, and continue beating. Chill overnight. Shape mixture into a ball (or as Amy suggests “tumor-sized balls”). Roll in chopped nuts. Let stand 15 minutes. Spread on Ritz.