This savory combination of sage, garlic and cheese makes an easy and delicious appetizer. It can be rolled into a log or made into a ball or dome and covered with toasted pecans or sliced pimento olives. If you are entertaining a large number of guests, double the recipe to make a large cheese log or ball. It can be packed in a crock and given as a gift with some homemade bread or good crackers. Tightly covered, it will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks.
Makes about 2 cups
8 ounces finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 large clove garlic
12 fresh sage leaves cut into chiffonade (scant ¼ cup)
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
½ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon sherry, port, brandy, or cream
Toasted pecans or sliced pimento olives, optional
In the bowl of a food processor or in a mixing bowl combine the cheddar and cream cheese and blend well. Squeeze the garlic through a garlic press into the cheese or mince it very fine and add it along with the sage, mustard, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, and the alcohol or cream. Pulse the cheese mixture in the processor until smooth or blend well with a wooden spoon.
Pack the cheese mixture into a 1-pint crock and seal. If you want to make a log, use a large piece of plastic wrap and spread the cheese mixture onto it in a log shape. Use the plastic wrap to roll around the mixture and make a cylinder shape. Refrigerate until firm.
To make a dome shape, line a small bowl with plastic wrap and transfer the mixture into it, covering with the remaining plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm. When ready to serve, remove the dome or log from the plastic wrap, place on a serving plate, and garnish with pecans or olives by pressing them gently into the cheese, if desired. Serve with bread, crackers, cucumber slices, or wedges of apple.
© Susan Belsinger