Smoky and Spicy Cheese Ball

Since I made my very first cheese ball here, it was so good, I have been needing an excuse to create new ones.

cheeseball2b

With the festive season upon us, a cheese ball is the perfect make-ahead addition to a any party or buffet table. Served with cruditiés or crackers, they are really good for feeding a crowd and delicious to eat.

This one is all about smoky and spicy flavours. Smoky cheese, smoked paprika, smoky and spicy chipotle chillies and the crust has chopped smoky almonds, smoked paprika and lots of crispy shards of smoky bacon goodness. Like my first cheese ball recipe, I haven’t used any extra salt in this at all.

cheeseball2

Ingredients:
8oz/226g room temperature cream cheese
8oz/226g room temperature Applewood smoked cheddar, grated
Small bunch of chives, very finely chopped
1-2tbs of chipotle chilli paste.
1 roasted red pepper, skinned and finely chopped. You can easily cheat and use one from a jar for this.
2tsp smoked paprika – sweet or spicy, the choice is yours
Freshly ground black pepper

Crust:
1 pack of salted smoked almonds, very finely chopped
6 thin slices of smoked streaky bacon, cooked until crisp – then cool and finely chop
Freshly ground black pepper
2tsp smoked paprika
Crackers for serving

cheeseball slice

Method:
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the room temperature cheeses, peppers, paprika and chilli and mix on low speed until well mixed.  Add the chives and mix until just combined.

Place onto cling film and form into a ball. Refrigerate for at least two hours in order for it to firm up and be rolled in the crust ingredients.

On a plate, spread out the chopped almonds and bacon. Season the plate all over with freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle over the paprika so you have an even coating.

cheeseball slice2

Then just roll the cheese ball around in the crust ingredients, until fully coated. This is ready to serve immediately but will only get better if left to come up to room temperature. Otherwise you can refrigerate for up to 3 days.

cracker1

This could easily be made vegetarian by leaving out the bacon and using more of the other ingredients to coat the outside.

Chipotle Chilli Grilled Salmon Kebabs

Grilled salmon skewers with a smoky and spicy marinade.  Served with a cooling mint and coriander yogurt dip, pita bread and salad.  Perfect for hot and spicy summer nights!

Salmon kebabs2

All of my family love salmon, so these go down really well and can be cooked on a griddle pan, the barbecue, or even on a lined baking sheet in the oven. You can up the spice levels by adding more of the chipotle marinade. The coriander/cilantro used in the yogurt dip is entirely optional. I love it, but the rest of the family – not so much!

As a contact lens wearer, I always use disposable latex gloves when chopping, or using any kind of chilli in a marinade. So much pain and the chilli lasts on your skin for hours, despite washing like Lady McBeth!

salmon kebab close

Salad:
Baby salad leaves
Handful of black olives
Hothouse cucumber slices
Small handful of cherry tomatoes – halved
Feta cheese, crumbled
Lemon wedges and warm pita to serve

Chipotle marinade:
2tbs prepared chipotle paste
Juice of 1 small lime
2tsp olive oil

Kebabs:
Around 400g/14oz Salmon cut into large cubes – this is enough for 2 hungry people
1-2 Courgettes/zucchini, halved down the middle and cut into chunks
1 yellow pepper, cut into large squares
Salt and pepper to season

Yogurt dip/dressing:
6tbs Greek yogurt
Small bunch of chopped mint and coriander/cilantro
Zest and juice of a small lemon
Pinch of salt and pepper

Mix together the chipotle paste, lime juice and olive oil and add to the salmon, turning to coat.  I use gloves and gently rub the marinade over the fish with my hands. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Method:
When you are ready to cook, pre-heat the griddle pan and assemble the salad ingredients on the plates. This is also a great barbecue recipe but just remember to soak any wooden skewers first. I use flat metal skewers so the salmon and vegetables don’t move around when I’m turning them.

Thread the fish and vegetables onto your skewers and season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Place onto the hot grill pan or barbecue. They will cook very quickly – around 2-3 minutes per side.  If you are cooking in the oven.  Cook at 200°C/400°F. They will take around 12 minutes, depending on the size of the chunks of salmon, but keep an eye on them so that the salmon doesn’t overcook.

salmon kebab closeup

Serve over the salads with the yogurt, warm pita and lemon wedges and a little coriander sprinkled over the top (or not if you don’t like it!)