This is my Aunt Louie’s recipe for Cheese Balls. She was a real grande dame – she knew everyone in the village and always organized the village fête. When she drove up the street, she would wave with a regal bow. Auntie Louie was famous for her luck in a raffle (she once won a diamond brooch, which I still possess) and for her cocktail parties, powered by vicious gin martinis and sharp little cheese balls that exploded into crumbs if you tried to bite them. Auntie’s sense of hospitality, her instant welcome to anyone who came to the house, her sheer joy of life, taught me a lot.

Makes about 30 balls

  • 1 ¼ cups/150 g flour
  • 1 ¼ cups/150 g finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard, more to taste
  • ½ cup/110 g melted butter, more if needed

1. Mix the flour in a bowl with the Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and dry mustard. Stir in the melted butter so the mixture forms crumbs. Kneading with your hands, press it into balls the size of small walnuts – a half tablespoon measuring spoon as a mold can be a help here. If the mixture is very dry and crumbly, add a bit more melted butter. Set the balls on a buttered baking sheet and chill about 15 minutes. Heat the oven to 375°F/190°C.

2. Bake the cheese balls in the oven until browned, 35-45 minutes. Test by cutting into a ball, it should not be doughy in the center. Transfer the cheese balls to a rack to cool. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week, and I always have a back-up supply in the freezer.

From ONE SOUFFLE AT A TIME by Anne Willan, 2013

Photo CREDIT: Josie Adams