Last weekend was Father’s Day and Katie and I spent the weekend with her family in Napa. My father lives in Oregon so I sent him a care package with a beer mug made from an antler horn! He loves it. Every Sunday Katie’s family has a family dinner with her Grandpa and Aunt Cindy. Father’s Day Sunday we ate with her brother, sister-in-law, Grandpa, Aunt, Great Uncle and Parents. Her parents recently re-did their kitchen so I thought we should take advantage of our surroundings and make something for the blog. We decided to make cheese balls from Martha Stewart’s Cookbook: Appetizers.

Originally we were only going to make the Aged-Cheddar Port Ball but I convinced Katie we should also make the Blue Cheese, Bacon, and Scallion one too. Blue cheese is a controversial cheese in the Celiac, Gluten Free, community. Many Celiacs do not eat Blue cheese because the traditional way to make the cheese involves bread and or barley. Many restaurants include blue cheese dips and dressing as a part of their gluten-free menus because many gluten intolerant people do not have a reaction to the cheese. Since Katie is Celiac we had to find a gluten free version but I wasn’t worried because finding gluten free anything in a tourist town like Napa isn’t very difficult today. We were able to find a local gluten free blue cheese called Point Reyes Original Blue at the local Whole Foods Market.

The Aged-Cheddar Port Ball was the favorite of the group because it was sweet and salty. Katie’s Mom and I preferred the Blue Cheese, Bacon, and Scallion Ball because bacon. I firmly believe anything rolled in bacon is the clear winner. I honestly think the Blue cheese ball could have needed more spice from the hot sauce. We also opted to roll the Aged-Cheddar Port Ball in ground almonds and dried cranberries. The ground almonds gave a nice crunch the cheese ball needed.

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Cheese Balls from Martha Stewart’s Cookbook: Appetizers 

Aged-Cheddar and Port Ingredients  

1/4 cup ruby port

8 ounces aged cheddar cheese

8 ounces cream cheese block

1 cup of chopped dried cranberries

Blue Cheese, Bacon, and Scallions Ingredients 

8 ounces Blue Cheese (We used Point Reyes Original Blue for a Gluten Free version)

8 ounces cream cheese block

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

few dashes of your favorite hot sauce

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

6 slices of chopped bacon

6 finely chopped scallions

 Aged-Cheddar and Port Directions 

Bring 1/4 cup ruby port to a simmer over low heat in a small saucepan. Cook until reduced by about half, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely.

Grate 8 ounces aged cheddar cheese to yield 2 cups, and let come to room temperature along with 1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese.

With an electric mixer on medium speed beat cheddar with three-quarters bar cream cheese until smooth. In another bowl, beat remaining one-quarter bar cream cheese with reduced port. Gently stir port mixture into cheddar mixture until just swirled together. Cover; refrigerate until firm, at least 8 hours.

Shape cheese mixture into a ball. Place 1 cup chopped dried cranberries on a plate. Roll cheese ball in fruit to coat. Serve at room temperature.

Blue Cheese, Bacon, and Scallions Directions 

Crumble 8 ounces blue cheese to yield 2 cups, and let come to room temperature along with 1bar (8 ounces) cream cheese.

With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat blue cheese, cream cheese, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, a few dashes of hot sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt until combined. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until firm, at least 8 hours.

Cook 6 slices bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until golden and most of the fat is rendered 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then finely chop and combine with 6 finely chopped scallions on a plate.

Shape cheese mixture into a ball. Roll cheese ball in bacon-scallion mixture to coat serve at room temperature.