Anne Willan has been off my radar. As a cookbook author of more than a dozen internationally acclaimed cookbooks that include From My Chateau Kitchen, Cooking with Wine, and the 17-volume, step-by-step, illustrated Look and Cook. For a more detailed listing as well as a blurb on the books, please click here. The pure romanticism in the title From My Chateau Kitchen makes me want to know more.
"An authoritative yet intimate appreciation of both the food and the culture of Burgundy. Interwoven in the text, which presents colorful characters from the depth of rural France are some 300 photographs and 160 recipes from Anne's personal repertoire." You know I want to know the colorful characters. Don't you? Yes, I'd like to know more.
She recently moved to L.A. from her 17-bedroom, 17th century chateau in Burgundy. Quite a life change but Ms. Willan has had many life changes. A daughter from an upper class British famly, she graduated from Cambridge with a Master's Degree in Economics (circa 1959). A chance class at Cordon Bleu in London proved to be a game-changer. She simply fell in love with cooking and although her family disapproved - she pursued it. She went to Paris to pursue her culinary studies and once graduated she put out an ad in the Herald Tribune: "Cordon Bleu cook will give lessons and and cook for dinner parties." There were only six replies but one reply led her to cook at Versaille. The tale is here and it's a good one.
Parmesan Cheese Balls
Ms. Willan is the real deal. She may hail from Yorkshire but she has been showered with honors and awards from every corner of France as well as in the USA. This is the holiday season and you are likely busy, so I won't list them here - but take a peek if you have a monent - it's inspiring - http://www.lavarenne.com/about.htm.
She may be a French Chef but this recipe is pure Italian. It sings of Parmesan. It's savory, peppery and you really want a nice glass of Prosecco -or at the very least some fine sparkling water to accompany this. The cheese-pepper bites just begged for sparkle. And this is the season of sparkle, isn't it? I found it on The Wednesday Chef and you can read Luisa's description of these savory cheese bites here. Or just make them. Because in the season of sweets, a little savory is most appreciated.
Parmesan Cheese Balls Ingredients
1-1/2 cups flour
1 cup freshly-shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (only freshly shredded)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (I wouldn't be afraid to add a tad more)
1/2 cup melted butter
1. In a food processor, mix the flour, Parmesan, salt, pepper and dry mustard. Add the butter and work it in using the pulse button so the mixture forms crumbs. Press a few crumbs together with your fingers.(Luisa notes that if it is sticky, add 2 to 3 tablespoons more flour - mine wasn't - mine was crumbly.)
2. Butter a baking sheet. Turn the crumbs into a bowl, press them into balls 1 inch in diameter and place them on the baking sheet. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. I (obviously did not get round balls - but they were credible - just a bit crumbly - but then - oven-magic happened and they baked perfectly.)
3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the cheese balls until lightly browned, 25-30 minutes - check after 25 minutes) They keep well in an airtight container, or they can be frozen.
I got 24 Parmesan balls out of this recipe..
And yes, 'tis the season of sparkle and sweet. But don't forget savory and sophisticated. Add a little French flair to your table and check out what the other bloggers are doing for Week 27 of Gourmet Game Changers. And if you want to join in the fun, e-mail Mary at One Perfect Bite. Mary started this delectable journey.