Everything Mid Century old is new again when it comes to furnishings and kitchen ware. What was once tossed to the curb as it seemed tacky or passé, is now coveted by collectors worldwide. The shabby chic, overstuffed sofas and crystal chandeliers of the 90’s and beyond have been replaced by Eames chairs, Sputnik lamps and Danish Modern dining tables. Even I’ve gotten a few pieces here and there despite holding steadfast to my antique English “brown” wood furniture, as Mahogany is now referred.
So I figured why not take it a step further and serve food that goes with the decor? And so I did.
This Toasted Pecan Cheese Ball was tres au courant for a modern housewife to serve at cocktail parties in the 50’s and 60’s. Created entirely from ready-made foods found at the supermarket, it was the epitome of emancipation from slaving over a hot stove, the beginning of women getting out of the house and into the workforce full throttle. While I have gone back to scratch made foods with a vengeance, these women were unapologetic in their quest for finding the easiest shortcut to a tasty meal. Convenience foods were new and all the rage, from frozen vegetables to canned pasta to flavored cheeses to dehydrated soups. Recipes that utilized one or more of these convenience foods lined the pages of women’s magazines and dinner tables across America showcased them nightly.
This recipe is from my mother’s files. Ready made packages of flavored, crumbled or shredded cheeses and nuts that will keep your knives and cutting boards in your cabinets. Simply mix, roll and go. I updated by making it plant based. In addition, while her recipe used raw pecans, I chose to toast them in the oven for more flavor and crunch. Either option works.
How does it taste? Fabulous! Nostalgia at its best. Plant based dairy has come a long way in the last few years. Follow Your Heart Blue Cheese is spot on and Philadelphia has created a good replica of cream cheese, especially this onion and chive version. Blended together with the vegan cheddar and vegan Worcestershire sauce and then rolled in toasted pecans and served on old school Sociable crackers, you’ll imagine Donna Reed waltzing down the stairs!
If you’re looking to traverse down memory lane or if you’re younger, discover the foods of your parents and grandparents, this Toasted Pecan Cheese Ball is the embodiment of Mid Century Modern convenience designed for a 21st Century Modern lifestyle as its 100% vegan and gluten free. Think of serving this tasty dip at your Super Bowl event next week. It’s enough for a small crowd and can sit out several hours without spoiling.
Toasted Pecan Cheese Ball (Vegan)
I’ve noted where to purchase the ingredients I used. Ralphs does have shredded vegan cheddar and pecan pieces for a single store shop.
1.5 cups pecan pieces (Whole Foods)
6 oz. Philadelphia vegan onion and chive cream cheese (Ralphs)
4 oz. Follow Your heart crumbled Vegan blue cheese (Ralphs)
8 oz 365 shredded vegan cheddar cheese (Whole Foods)
3/4 tsp Wizards vegan Worcestershire sauce (Ralphs)
Sociable Crackers (not gluten free) (Ralphs) or crackers of choice for Gluten free
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread the pecan pieces on a sheet pan. Bake for about 10 minutes, tossing a few times. All oven are different so check carefully not to burn. Set aside to cool.
In the meantime take out the cheeses to bring to room temperature. This can take several hours as these cheeses are made with coconut oil and seem to soften more slowly. A helpful hint is to spread the cheeses out flat on large plates to increase their surface area to room air temperature.
When the cheeses are softened combine them in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium high to fully combine the cheeses, scraping the sides and under the paddle often. When well mixed drizzle in the Worcestershire sauce and combine well. Please note the cheddar will be mostly intact.
Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap. Gather the cheese mixture into a ball as best you can and set on the plastic wrap. Wrap it up and continue to create a ball with the mixture. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, up to a day.
When ready to serve, pour the nuts onto a large flat plate or pan. Remove the plastic wrap and roll the cheese ball in the nuts pressing them in with your hands. You can fill in empty spots individually. Plate and surround by crackers. I like to set it up and let it rest on the plate 30 minutes before serving to let the cheese soften a bit. I also put the extra nuts in a bowl for guests to add as the center of the cheese ball lacks as many nuts as the exterior. Enjoy!