julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

Memories, Like the Cheese Balls of My Mind

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“… my note in the kitchen made a splash – ‘Please eat my Roquefort Balls.  They’re in the fridge.’  Ah, yes, no humor like the inadvertent.” – Julie Powell

 

Yesterday’s post about our new knife set brought back a weird memory. In college I was a resident assistant in my dorm, a job I held for two years before obtaining the position of Head RA my senior year. My first year on the job, I was assigned the smallest wing with only 24 girls, and everyone got along really well. So well, in fact, that when it was one of the girls’ birthday, everyone wanted to have a wing party to celebrate her big day. We met in the lobby kitchen, where another resident had bought a cake and stored it in the community fridge. We all sang happy birthday, and the “hostess” of the party went to cut the cake. I noticed she’d been standing at the kitchen sink for awhile, so I made eye contact to see if everything was okay. She was holding her hand in a towel, and looked at me with big eyes. When I went to see what was wrong, trying not to draw any attention, she whispered, “I cut my finger with the knife…I think it’s pretty bad.” When she pulled the towel away, I had to agree – it looked pretty bad.

Beware Sharp Cutting Utensils!

“Everyone have some cake! We’ll be right back!” I said cheerily, then quickly escorted the girl to the nearby campus health center. It was pretty late, and they were just about to close, but the on-duty nurse agreed to take a look. One glance told us all we needed to know. “Oh,” she said. “You’ll need to go to the emergency room for this. Our doctor has already gone for the night.” So we got into my car and took a late-night trip to the local hospital (the first of many I would take in my three-year residency), where we waited…and waited…and waited. I remember having to go to the counter to ask for some gauze, because this poor girl’s finger was beginning to drip onto the floor. We were finally able to see someone, and a few stitches later, we were back at the dorm with a wild story to tell. A few weeks passed before she was able to have the stitches removed, and I went with her to the campus health center for moral support. I took my camera so we could document this momentous occasion, but our plans were squashed by the doctor. Something about privacy or confidentiality – whatever. We were both pretty disappointed, but in the end, her finger healed nicely and we both learned an important lesson about knife safety. Moral of the story: be careful when working with sharp instruments. Oh, and no good deed goes unpunished. The End.

Tonight when I got home from choir, I decided a tasty snack was in order. Preferably something light, quick and easy. I flipped through the section in MtAoFC entitled “Entrees and Luncheon Dishes” (specifically “Cocktail Appetizers”) and found what looked to be the simplest thing ever: Amuse-Gueules au Roquefort (Roquefort Cheese Balls). This cold little appetizer looked super easy to make, and because I’d had a hard time locating Roquefort for previous recipes, I was curious.

The Players in This Dish

First of all, a handy tip: Roquefort cheese is not cheap, my friends. A 1/4 lb. package cost about $7, and this recipe called for a 1/2 lb. Not too keen on the idea of spending $14 on cheese for a snack, I opted for half the recipe, which in the end produced about 6 cheese balls. I was a little concerned when I read the package for the cheese and saw this bit of news: contents – raw sheep milk, salt, cheese cultures, animal rennet (no idea), penicillium, roquefort rind (non-edible).

Um…wait. Non-edible?? So the first thing I did was slice off the rind (which, to be honest, looked pretty edible to me, but then again, this was a piece of cheese filled with green holes we’re talking about). I plopped the cheese into a small bowl with a couple of tablespoons of butter and mashed it up until it was sort of a paste. Then I added some minced green onion and celery (I tell you, those new knives are dreamy!) along with a pinch of cayenne pepper and a few drops of Worcestershire sauce. Wooorchestershire sauce. Wurchesher sauce. Worstchershiresher sauce. Um. Wustersher sauce. Yeah. That. And I mixed it all up, then rolled it into little balls.

Roquefort, Butter, Chives & Celery

For some reason, my cheese balls were a little on the wet side. Maybe I used too much butter, or too much Wor…uh, steak sauce – either way, they were a little gummy. No matter! I formed them as best I could, then rolled them in a mixture of bread crumbs and minced parsley. I reformed them as needed at this point, then set them on a plate and put them in the fridge to chill out for awhile. And I said, “Yo, dudes! Chill out for awhile!” as I closed the fridge door. Okay, not really. But that would be kind of funny, no? No.

So I waited for the balls to set and did other things in the  meantime – kissed my cat on the head, drank a bloody mary, listened to the rain outside on the patio – and finally decided the wait time was over. It was time to try these babies out. I brought the plate out of the fridge, offered a cheese ball to Ben and had one myself. We both took a bite…and felt like we’d been kicked in the back of the throat. Whoooeeee!! Roquefort cheese, in case you didn’t know, is like a really strong Bleu Cheese. It’s the Chuck Norris of the cheese community…and apparently, it takes no prisoners.

Finished Cheese Balls

Here’s what I’ll say: I’m not sure if it’s the cheese itself or the pinch of cayenne pepper, but the cheese balls were really spicy. The celery bits gave it a nice crunch, and while I’m not a big fan of bleu cheese, I guess I could see how some people are. To me, this was the kind of thing that would taste better served on a cracker. Maybe instead of little cheese balls, the recipe should make one big ball that could be spread onto wheat thins. But then I guess it wouldn’t be very French. Or very Julia. (Did Julia Child ever eat a Ritz cracker? I wonder!)

This is what Ben will say (after one bite of one ball): “It tastes like celery…mixed with butt…and foot.” Lovely. At least I can never say he isn’t honest! (Please note he immediately proclaimed, “I need something to wash it down with!” as he carried the leftover birthday carrot cake to his recliner. Could this all be a ploy? Perhaps.)

All in all, I didn’t hate this recipe, but think it doesn’t work well as a stand-alone snack. It definitely needs to be served on something to help alleviate some of its bite. If you’re a bleu cheese lover, then this is definitely a recipe for you. If you’re eeked out by the idea of eating mold, then I would recommend you skip over this page and move on to other things. Then again, if you’re desperate for a super easy recipe, I’d say you should give this one a try. Just don’t be surprised if Chuck Norris shows up at your door asking, “Have you seen my cheese balls?”

-Jessica

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3 Responses to “Memories, Like the Cheese Balls of My Mind”

  1. Melody says:

    Seriously? You called us a choir? 😐

    Oh – and Chuck Norris is a vegetarian. Meaning, he does not eat animals until first he puts them into vegetative state with his fists.

    • Jessica says:

      I know, I know. Blasphemous! But I figured the understanding of “choir” would be more universal for the masses. I’ll set it right, I promise! As for Chuck Norris, all I can say is he’s missing out. Sometimes a big juicy steak really hits the spot. But don’t tell him I said that, or he may come and kick me in the throat – like my cheese balls did.

  2. Melody says:

    You totally need to check out the Chuck Norris-isms – http://www.chucknorrisfacts.com/

    My sister got a bunch of these on her new phone & we were pretty much falling out laughing over them.

    And I think “chorus” is just as easy to understand as “choir”. But I digress.

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