Last week I was invited to a very intimate book signing party for the legendary Anne Willan. Gracious and elegant, Anne held us captivated with stories of her childhood in the North of England, exotic travels and running the famous Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, (and subsequently Burgandy) Anne Willan has lived a life that most of us can only dream of. Not only is she an acclaimed authority of French cuisine, cooking teacher, author of over a dozen books, she was an editor for Gourmet Magazine. And she’s still going strong!
I started her latest book, One Souffle at a Time: A Memoir of Food and France, peppered with anecdotes, memories and recipes. Aunt Louie’s Cheese Balls reminded me of my mom’s Cheese Straws, which she makes every holiday season. These Cheese Balls are the perfect little nibble with a cocktail or a glass of wine. Best yet, they can be frozen to have on hand for last minute drop-ins!
- 1¼ cups/150g flour
- 1¼ cups/150g finely grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard, or more to taste
- ½ cup/110g melted butter, plus more if needed
- 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 dough into balls the size of small walnuts, (about a half tablespoon).
- 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 oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C.
- Bake the cheese balls in the oven until browned, 35 to 45 minutes. Test for doneness 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 one week, or frozen for up to 3 months.