Yes, I know it's not an "Italian" recipe. But I depart from Italian recipes occasionally, and it's here on Ciao Chow Linda for a few other reasons. First of all, it's from my new friend Ellen Stimson's latest book, "An Old-Fashioned Christmas," a book filled with funny, heartwarming stories and enticing recipes and photos. Second of all, with the holidays here, it would make a great gift for someone (maybe even you?).
There are recipes for cookies, cakes and other sweets, but plenty of savory things too, including a decadent mac 'n' cheese that Ellen personally made for my book club, and a bacon and onion tart I can't wait to try. She hasn't left out your furry friends either, with a few recipes for that special four-legged creature in your life.
But most of all, the recipe is here on Ciao Chow Linda, because it's just plain good, and has a cool retro vibe.
Ellen actually calls this "Aunt Loraine's Brady Bunch Cheese Ball," but I modified it somewhat with the addition of brandy. You don't need to be a slave to the recipe. Ellen sure takes liberties with her cooking, as you'll find out when you read the book. Don't like green olives? Leave them out. Prefer blue cheese instead of cheddar? Then go ahead and switch. I hope Aunt Loraine would approve.
Just be sure to serve with Ritz Crackers and you'll swear you're back in the '70s.
Aunt Loraine's Brady Bunch Cheese Ball
from Ellen Stimson's "An Old-Fashioned Christmas"
(my changes in red)
3 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/3 cup chopped green olives
3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes garlic power
4 dashes celery seed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 T. brandy
12 ounces chopped pecans (this was way too much - I used about 4 ounces (1 cup) and it was plenty to coat, as you can see in the photo.
Mix all the ingredients except for the pecans. I used my KitchenAid mixer to get things started, then put everything into the food processor to finish. Alternatively, you could also mix everything using a strong spoon and bowl, along with some "elbow grease." Shape into a ball.
I found it easiest to line a small bowl with plastic wrap, then scoop the mixture into the plastic wrap, shaping it somewhat into a ball, using the plastic wrap to help.
Place in the refrigerator so the ball can chill and solidify and flavors blend (I left it in overnight, but a few hours will likely be enough). The next day, cover with the chopped pecans.