4 November 2011

Amanda Hesser's Cheese Ball with Cumin, Mint, and Pistachios

Amanda Hesser's Cheese Ball with Cumin, Mint and Pistachios
Here it is Friday again and our group has now reached #22 on the list of Gourmet Live's 50 Women Game Changers. For the past few months we have been experimenting with dishes from each of the 50 influential women on "the list" so far. We are fast approaching the midway point and whether you agree or disagree with the authors chosen fifty and their order, it cannot be denied that it has been an enjoyable and creative outlet to cook from the masters. We have checked out books from the library, borrowed cookbooks from friends, surfed the Internet and browsed our own cookbook collections seeking that one recipe that will highlight that weeks outstanding woman.
Number 22 on the list Amanda Hesser has designed a seventeenth-century-style herb garden at a French château, developed the Twitter app Plodt, and played herself  in one of my favourite movies Julie and Julia. When the movie was showcased on TV last month I PVR'd it and realized she was in the movie, a fact I had missed previously. She began her career as a kitchen runner and bread truck driver in college, then picked grapes in France, made pretzels in Germany, and cleaned rabbits in Italy. It sounds like an idealic life to me!

As a longtime staffer at the New York Times, Amanda has written more than 750 stories, created the columns Food Diary and Recipe Redux, and was the food editor at the Times Magazine, where she launched T Living. She has written the award-winning books  Cooking for Mr. Latte and The Cook and the Gardener, and edited the essay collection, Eat, Memory, based on a column she conceived for the Times Magazine. Her latest book is The Essential New York Times Cookbook. She is also the cofounder of food52.com. Such an impressive resume!!! Hesser lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Tad Friend, and their two children.

One of my favourite well-travelled bloggers Mary of One Perfect Bite invited bloggers to travel along on a culinary journey. Gourmet Live brought out a list of the 50 most influential women in food...Fifty women game changers. Some are chefs, some are food writers, and some are women who are passionate about the creative process. You could certainly add or detract women from this list, but no matter what these women have all influenced us in one way or another. Being a woman and passionate about food myself I wanted to explore and join Mary on this journey and not only learn from the masters but recreate some of their dishes to better understand what has shaped and molded them into who they are today. In doing so I have learned more about myself, and have learned more than a few new recipes and techniques. My cohorts for this adventure can be found below. If you would like to join in  please contact Mary. This is an informal event where we post every Friday, but you have the flexibility to follow along when you can. We have reached #22 on the list of 50.

Let's see what we have been up to this week with Amanda Hesser....

Mary of One Perfect Bite - Butternut Squash Curry
Val of More Than Burnt Toast - Cheese Ball with Cumin, Pistachios and Mint
Joanne of Eats Well With Others  -Curried Root Vegetable Stew with Dumplings 
Susan of The Spice Garden  - Pumpkin Soup with Leek and White Wine
Taryn of Have Kitchen, Will Feed 
Heather of Girlichef  - Cranberry Liqueur
Miranda of Mangoes and Chutney - Evelyn Sharpe's French Chocolate Cake
Jeanette at Jeanette's Healthy Living - Bombay Chile Cilantro Chicken
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Sue of View from The Great Island - Spicy Moroccan Orange Salad
Linda of There and Back Again - Teddie’s Apple Cake
Barbara of Moveable Feasts - Baking Sheet Mac and Cheese.
Nancy of Picadillo - Amanda's Chocolate Pudding
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits - Red Snapper Sautéed with Fennel Seeds, Tomato, and Vermouth
Veronica of My Catholic Kitchen - Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe appears on page 85 of The Essential New York Times Cookbook. Be sure to use fresh spices, and don’t skimp on the lemon zest. I omitted the mint, afraid that it would overpower the flavour when it is not a favourite of mine, but I urge you to try it!  I loved the celery added which is a new addition for me. This updated cheese ball will definitely show up for the holidays! Would you agree that it is pretty gorgeous with its pistachio crust?

**Amanda Hesser’s Cheese Ball with Cumin, Mint, and Pistachios**
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temp
  • 4 oz. goat cheese, at room temp
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano, preferably Fulvi
  • 1 teaspoon toasted, ground coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin seeds
  • ½ cup finely sliced celery heart with leaves
  • 1/3 cup chopped mint
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • 1/3 cup salted pistachios, coarsely ground
  • Very thin plain crackers, for serving
1. Beat the cream cheese and goat cheese in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Add lemon juice and zest. Fold in Pecorino Romano, coriander, cumin, celery, mint, and pepper. Season to taste with salt.

2. Lay a large piece of plastic wrap across the counter, and spoon cheese mixture onto it. Wrap tightly and chill for 2 hours or overnight.

3. Dice pistachios. Roll cheese ball in the nuts until covered.

4. Chill cheese ball for up to 2 days. Serve at room temperature.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. Oh my gosh, I would happily devour this for breakfast- it looks SO good! Those big fat pistachios are calling my name. Delicious choice, Val :D

  2. Beautiful pictures! I love pistachios and I'm impressed by Amanda Hesser! What a ball of energy she is. Seems to have so many irons in the fire. She says if you blink you'll miss her in the movie!

  3. That is a speciality I have never tried or made... I love the idea.



  4. Boy, I haven't seen a cheese ball in years, but this is a far cry from the ones I remember. I like that you chose to keep the pistachios whole instead of grinding them for the crust, it's just beautiful.

  5. I must have missed this cheese ball in the cookbook, which I have. If there were pictures as lovely as yours in the book Val, I would have jumped on it immediately.

    Love cheese balls. Great idea for the upcoming holiday season.

  6. Val, that looks SO good ~ Interesting combination of flavors, unlike any cheese ball I've ever tasted. Perfect for holiday parties, for sure. Thank you for sharing.
    Gorgeous photos!! ~m.

  7. Wonderful flavors, Val! Love the pistachios....lots of them! I've never added cumin to a cheese ball, but it would be great with goat cheese. Will be making this over the holidays. Yummy photo!

  8. This is a cheese ball worthy of a center spot on the Thanksgiving groaning board! So very different from others that I've seen over the years!

    Golly! With a beautiful crisp white wine, it would be wonderful on a bed of greens as a salad course also!

  9. Val nice to discover Amander Hesser. I did not know she in the movie. I'll have to watch it again. That Cheese Ball would be perfect for the Holidays.

  10. Seriously the most elegant cheese ball I've ever seen! Nice to learn about Mrs. Hesser. Great post.

  11. I'm not normally a cheese ball lover, but this one sounds interesting with all the herbs and spices, and I love the pistachios on it.

  12. Such interesting flavors! I love all of them and it sounds like this is a delightful appetizer/1

  13. What a wonderful recipe. It is different from the usual cheese ball. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Definitely not the usual cheese ball. This looks and sounds delicious. I'm printing it out for the holidays!


  15. This is so timely. We have the holidays just ahead of us and it will be nice to serve something out of the ordinary. This really looks wonderful and I love the new take on an old favorite. Have a wonderful weekend, Val.Blessings...Mary

  16. A nice cheese grenade...ready...."exploding with flavour"!

  17. Val this look really amazing, I love pistachios! xxgloria

  18. This is perfect for holiday parties!

  19. I'm trying to imagine the combination of cumin and mint - wowza... love the pistachios - makes for such an interesting presentation.

  20. Great photo of your cheese ball; we love all these ingredients except the cumin' we could replace with something else; I'm sure.

  21. Another outstanding recipe.

  22. I devour Hesser's books like candy. I, too missed this cheese ball. So pretty with the nuts - and will be the perfect preamble to Thanksgiving. Thanks for the reminder! I forget how accomplished Hesser is! I love this series!

  23. I appreciate the information you give about other greats in cooking. This looks so party ready.

  24. That cheeseball looks wonderful!

  25. Val, What interesting facts you've found out about Amanda Hesser: pretzel making in Germany, and picking grapes in France, Fantastic!
    The cheese ball sounds unique with the pistachios and fresh mint. Definitely above the cut from the average cheese ball.

  26. I LOVE that cheeseball! I've made quite a few in my time and that is my favorite. She was in town just after the book came out and I went to an event with her. The restaurant that hosted prepared the cheeseball and I parked myself right next to it for most of the evening. Yum!

  27. This cheeseball is definitely making an appearance at Thanksgiving this year! Yum!

  28. simple receipt, easy to get all the ingredient , look yummy
    i will try to make it someday,
    thanks for shared

  29. Oh look at that! That looks fab!


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