Friday, December 9, 2011

50 Women Game Changers (in Food) - #27 - Anne Willan - Parmesan Cheese Balls

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. 

Miranda - Mangoes and ChutneyJeanette - Healthy LivingApril - Abby Sweets

30 comments:

Sue/the view from great island said...

These look just perfect for holiday appetizers. These sound easy to make, I'd love them with a glass of wine. Are they fluffy and light, or more dense like shortbread? Either way they look delicious!

Kim said...

Oh my goodness...is this boycott american women guy serious? Good grief! I'm sorry that he left that comment on your site, Claudia. Wow!

At any rate, I hope you are enjoying the Christmas season with your family. These puffs look positively inspiring. I could easily pop a few of them right into my American Woman mouth...LOL!

Kristen said...

What a crazy comment for that guy to leave on a perfectly innocuous cooking blog! Love the parmesan bites. They would be a perfect addition to an appetizer line.

Claudia said...

The "comment" has been deleted! Surprised he got through - hate to have to resort to the codes again...

These are not "puffs" but indeed more like shortbread - very dense.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

From Cambridge to Versaille. That's quite a path.

Great choice with the Parmesan cheese balls Claudia. My personal favorite.
Sam

Kathy said...

Parmesan bites sound like such a nice thing to add to the holiday menu. They look and sound yummy! Great choice!

Barbara said...

Super to serve over the holidays, Claudia. The mustard would give them a lovely tang too. Great choice! I'm loving ALL of Anne's recipes!
(Glad I missed that comment. Boycott American Women? When we profiled a FRENCH woman? What's up with that?)

Barbara said...

Oh, indeed, Claudia. This is the season for something sparkly and these Parmesan bites would marry well with that. I am so going to make these for the holidays - great recipe!

Amy said...

These sound delicious! I can almost taste them, the salty parmesan...Mmm! I might have to make some, I know my Mother would love them as well!

Jeanette said...

These look like they would melt in your mouth.

Anne said...

These look delicious. The perfect holiday appetizers!

Lizzy said...

I should not be reading food blogs right before bedtime. Now I have an incredible craving for cheese balls. These look fantastic, Claudia! Have a great weekend~

Nancy/My Picadillo said...

I am adding these to our New Year's Eve menu! They sound terrific.

Reeni said...

You said the magic word - Parmesan - these look delicious and totally addicting! I wouldn't be able to keep my greedy hands off them.

Pegasuslegend said...

I think I would make a pig out of myself and eat them all! My weakness for breads is very strong and this one grabbed my attention. love the cheese they look delicious!

We Are Not Martha said...

Does it get any better than this?? They look a bit like cookies, but are cheese!! YUM!! :)

Sues

Tina said...

These little gems look so light and delicious, a perfect appetizer for entertaining. The only issue would be trying not to eat them all before your guests arrive! Tasty post-have a great weekend!

Angie's Recipes said...

A perfect holiday appetizer!

Monet said...

These do look like perfect holiday appetizers. Thank you for sharing yourself and your culinary explorations. I'm glad I get a glimpse! I hope you have a restful weekend.

Loveforfood said...

great appetizers.

Heather @ girlichef.com said...

Oh, you're so right! And I think I may love these little bites of savory goodness even more than all of the sweets hanging around. Lovely =)

easyfoodsmith said...

Great appetizers...they will polished off in minutes in my house!

Mary said...

What a wonderful post, Claudia. The cheese balls look wonderful and the biographical information you've shared with us is great. I'm so glad you joined our group. You add much. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

Miranda said...

I love parmesan, so these are right up my alley!

tasteofbeirut said...

These are a lot of fun to eat like you mentioned with a fine glass of sparkling wine.
I think Ann Willan is a remarkable woman

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I can see trouble in my future with these cheese balls - so addictive and so delicious.

That Girl said...

Life changes are provide fabulous fodder.

Joanne said...

I feel like I learned so much about Anne from this post! And now I so want to make those cheese balls for a party. delicious bites!

Hutchinsons said...

3 days before Christmas and I am looking through blogs? Now I am having to plan which event to have these at - like I wasn't baking enough!
They look delicious. How did you get all the pics? My kids would have already eaten them!

OysterCulture said...

What a great story, I am off to check out the link. Now if I only had some of those lovely sounding cheese balls. Wishing you and yours a wonderful 2012.