Monday, March 7, 2011

Carnevale Cheese


Today is Day 115 of living in a snow globe. The only cure is to crack open that snow globe with rich, welcoming food. This weekend was the family Carnevale dinner: 3-cheese appetizers wrapped in toasted hazel nuts, stuffed mushrooms, vegetable pizza, strawberry-arugula-spinach salad with warmed honey-balsamic vinaigrette, linguine with pesto and pizza du grane. (Somehow missed the frappes/bugies this year). All in generous amounts.

I thought it was enough food for 7. The cheese balls alone will fill you up!
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Then my mother surprised me with this:


Artichoke gratin. Made with cheese, egg yolks, cream, garlic, oil, butter ... oh my. You tear at the artichoke dripping with thick buttery goodness and make a mighty mess. Garlic oils drip from the tips of your fingers - this is caloric bliss. And if you keep a running conversation with yourself as I do - just just keep telling yourself, "I'm eating a vegetable! This is healthy!"
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But that's for a later post. Dream of it for awhile. It's worth the wait.
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Today we say "cheese." And I am part mouse. (Don't tell the cat.) I inherited the mouse gene from my mother.

This post is about cheese balls. It contains my beloved ricotta, creamy mascarpone and just-a-tad-biting-gorgonzola dolce - to keep you on your toes. These cheese delectables didn't even mind being upstaged by my mother's artichoke gratin. They held their own. Until there were none left to hold.
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They made me feel luxurious - indulged. And after 115 days of looking at snow, I plan an indulgence every day. Because our first crocuses are at least a month away.
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Italian Cheese Balls - makes 10
(Adjust amounts according to taste and number needed)
1/2 cup toasted hazel-nuts - smashed a bit
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup gorgonzola dolce (a younger, sweeter gorgonzola than the aged ones)
*garnish: a scattering of fresh Italian parsley leaves - other herbs would also work
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Italian Cheese Ball Preparation
  1. Skin and toast your hazelnuts. (I boil them for 10-15 minutes in a quart of water with 2 tablespoons of baking soda to get the skins off. Drain them and shinny those skins off of them in a towel. Then roast them in a 350 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes to dry them and toast them).
  2. Put in a plastic bag and pound some of them. Put them on a plate for later.
  3. With a beater, blend your cheeses. Chill for 20 minutes to make them easier to handle.
  4. Roll them into walnut-sized balls and then roll them in the roasted/toasted hazelnuts.
  5. Put on plate, scatter fresh herbs and serve. Or put plastic over the plate and refrigerate for up to four-six hours (maybe more - who knows - they never last that long).
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And I had more than one reason to chortle in my joy this weekend. My short play Mythajawaba has been chosen as one of six plays for Sundog Theatre's 2011 Scenes from a Staten Island Ferry. I have history in Staten Island (school and first apartment) and spent a lot of time on that ferry. I really had fingers and toes crossed for this one (so much so the toes may be permanently disfigured). It's ...quirky - a total steal of Ulysses and the sirens - only now the siren is in the New York Harbor. And even more reason for chortling is - it's looking good that I will go to NYC to see it around the 15th of April.

I'm still going down in weight - even with cheese balls and artichoke gratin so something is going well. (I think you must burn a lot of calories stressing over play acceptances.) The topic this week was recommended reading to help you stay on track. As a manic reader (send me titles) and the proud new owner of a Kindle (love having thousands of books at my finger tips) - my reading is for sheer pleasure. I actually escape from my point-counting, caloric days and don't read for weight-loss inspiration. I am someone who needs to escape. The thing with "mindful eating" is to really figure out what works for you, and if reading helps - read! If eating cheese balls helps - eat cheese balls. Why don't you eat these!

49 comments:

Jeannie said...

I would eat them too, if I could, right off the screen! Congratulations on your play being chosen and I am turning green with envy over your trip to NYC:) Now let me go take a look at your pdf-ed excerpt.

Pegasuslegend said...

wow do these ever look wonderful and calling my name!

Juliana said...

Claudia, your cheese balls look delicious, so tasty with hazelnuts...what a great treat. Hope you have a great week ahead :-)

Rebecca from Chow and Chatter said...

wow now this is a cheese snack so so good oh and I get frozen halibut at whole foods not so expensive 8-10 dollars for two big steaks

Torviewtoronto said...

haven't had this combination looks delicious i like this cheese snacks

Angela said...

It is absolute torture to have to look at those pictures without having a plateful in front of me!

Mary said...

I can imagine the good times you and your family had at the table this weekend. Your cheese balls sound like a lovely, ever so slight, fall from grace :-). I will be trying them this weekend. We'll be having visitors and these really sound delicious. Have a great evening. Blessings...Mary

5 Star Foodie said...

The cheese balls sound just perfect with hazelnuts! Congrats on your play being chosen, wonderful!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Oh those cheese balls are irresistible with three of my favorite cheeses and hazelnuts to boot. Congrats on the play and send details. If I can come see it, I will.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Ok, after I read this post I jumped up and opened my fridge just hoping I had some cheese in there, specifically your cheese balls, (which I will make, and they have our beloved ricotta in there too!)but instead I settled on a sice of asiago and some cold almonds that were in my freezer. I can't even talk about the artichoke recipe,( my other weakness) I'll be waiting for that!

Fresh Local and Best said...

I love cheese and hazelnut together. Oddly even with the parsley, I can imagine honey making it's way into the mix. This looks so comforting!

Marisa said...

Your Carnevale dinner sounds fantastic. I think that I am part mouse too lol--I love cheese and am just drooling over these amazing cheese balls! I'm definitely saving this recipe...

Angie's Recipes said...

They look fantastic plus I love cheese balls and need no any reason to indulge in them!

theUngourmet said...

I hope spring finds you very soon! Yum! These Italian cheese balls look out of this world! :)

My Little Space said...

Congruatlations on your play, Claudia! Guess, you going to be real busy for the coming days. Do take care. And those cheese treats simply incredible. Thanks for the recipe. Hope you're having a great time. Take care.
Best wishes, Kristy
p/s break a leg! :o)

denise @ bread expectations said...

Congratulations on getting your play chosen! Oh, we may be distant relatives - cheese is the only thing keeping me out of the vegetarian camp, and my nose twitches when Pecorino is in the kitchen :D

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Congratulations on your movie. That's fabulous news Claudia.

Cheese should be my middle name. I could make a meal of your yummy cheese balls.

I don't know how you continue to go down in weight with cheese around. You must have a very strong will.
Sam

girlichef said...

Oh. My. Goodness. As if the cheeseballs weren't fantastic enough, you had to go and show that sexy artichoke! I'm purring over here. I'd be trapped in a snowglobe for a few months if I had both of these with me ;)

girlichef said...

p.s...I meant to say CONGRATS on your play being chosen- how exciting!!! =)

Choices said...

Those cheese balls look so yummy,how about some cyber cheese balls?
Smiles.

FOODESSA said...

Your carnevale feast sounds soooo satisfying.

Claudia...I was just wondering what happened to that so-called diet of yours? It seems like it was wrapped up into these amazing cheese balls and as they were gone so did the diet. LOL

Love this recipe. Storing it for when Hubby bugs me to make him something real cheesy ;o)

Ciao for now,
Claudia

FOODESSA said...

I forgot the most important part...congrats for such great recognition of your work ;o)

I always get carried away with the food...please forgive me ;)

Ciao, Claudia

Emily Malloy said...

OH!!! Man!! I could eat tons of this. Oh how I love cheese.

I am part mouse, too.

Kim said...

Congrats on both the play and your continued weight loss. I am so excited for you on the weight loss as I know that it is so hard when you love food as we do.

I am part mouse as well, which I also get from my mother. Those little cheeseballs have a lot going for them with the dreamy ricotta, smooth mascarpone and sharp tangy gorgonzola. Addictive.

That Girl said...

A meal of cheeses sounds like the perfect Carneval dinner. Or any perfect dinner for that matter.

Magic of Spice said...

Cheese is one of my major vices :) These are amazing!

Spicie Foodie said...

The cheese balls look delicious! So does your mom's artichoke gratin. I hope Spring comes soon for you. Your weight loss and play news are fantastic, congratulations!

michelangelo in the kitchen said...

Congratulations are really in order for all your achievements lately! Wonderful job making these delicious cheese balls, they look scrumptious! Thanks for sharing the many pleasures from your Italian table! Ciao!!!

tasteofbeirut said...

Talk about food porn! The term applies here! Wonderful idea for a party and I guess we were on the same wavelength I made some goat cheese balls too for a salad tomorrow. And artichoke pesto today!

whatsfordinneracrossstatelines said...

Can't believe you could control yourself with these and still lose. I could live off cheese. I'll try and send spring your way. Hope you have a great rest of the week.
-Gina-

Lynda said...

Oh my, do these ever look good. You had a fantastic feast Claudia.

So sorry about the snow globe situation; hopefully you will thaw soon. But congrats on the play and the weight loss. At least there is some brightness to lift the gloom!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Oh my goodness I am drooling ove these cheese balls! I am having ahrd time deciding what to give up for Lent and I think cheese may be it as I'm like you, Claudia and could eat cheese with every meal!

CONGRATULATIONS for your play being chosen! I will go and read the PDF next. I hope you do come to NYC to see it performed! If I am not in Colorado at that time we will have to meet up :)

Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris said...

Thank you for letting me know about "gorgonzola dolce" This is sth I'll have to "investigate" in my next trip to Italy soon (April)
Kisses,
Cristina

roz said...

What a great combination of italian cheeses for these little cheese balls! I can taste them right now! Now that it's Lent, I'll have to wait for 40 days until I can indulge again! And those artichokes; I'm in heaven just reading this post!

Reeni said...

Congratulations on your play Claudia - I'm so happy for you! You cheese balls look incredibly good and so do the artichokes! I am trying to make the scale go down but think I'm doing nearly as good as you.

A SPICY PERSPECTIVE said...

What a winning combo, Claudia. Hope you get a little glimmer of spring soon!

Jill Colonna said...

Bravo, Claudia, on all fronts. The cheese balls look like they'd melt in your mouth. Thanks for bringing a ray of Italian sunshine to the screen! Well done on the play. You must be so proud AND losing weight, too. Fantastic!

Beth said...

Congratulations on your play! What a thrill it will be to actually see the production.

The cheese balls look great, but the artichoke sounds heavenly! Can't wait to read that post!

Victor said...

Such a wonderful appetizer. I sure want to try some now.

Barbara said...

Congrats on your play being chosen, Claudia! That's so exciting!
And I love these cheese balls! I'm doing well on my weight loss plan too. We can be proud of ourselves!!

Caramella said...

Looks wonderful! I really enjoy your blog, complimenti!!! :)

Bridgett ~ La Bella Cook said...

Oh yes, this would cure the winter blues! I love your description of living in a snow globe. I can imagine after a while it feels just like that.

Diana's Cocina said...

These cheese balls are simply irresistible ~ Congrats on your continued weight loss. I know it's hard, but so worth it.

Stevie said...

I wish that I'd been at that dinner! It sounds like a feast for all the senses.

Cake Duchess said...

Ciao Claudia-You must be so proud of your play-congrats:)These chees balls are making me hungry and I just ate! All that yumminess:)Hope it warms there soon for you:)xx

Monet said...

Oh Ryan would love these. He ADORES cheese, and of course, I love it too. I can't believe it is still so cold in your parts. Thanks for sharing, sweet friend. I hope you have a great Friday. I need a loong and relaxing weekend, and I'm sure you do too!

gaga said...

Haha, eating cheese balls help. I will be sure to do that! :)

michelangelo in the kitchen said...

This beautiful artichoke dish is a surprise for me too! A very pleasant one of course! This appetizer is already a meal for me for I want a whole plate of this! I just love artichokes cooked Italianissimo! Ciao!

Bizzy said...

These cheese balls are pure inspiration. Congrats on your success.