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Quintessentially Queso De Bola

The safest yet best gift to give and receive during Christmas is the one with an expiration date that won’t come too soon, and that you can keep in the refrigerator and freezer for a long time. One of those gifts is our favorite red cheese ball, queso de bola. I?can never have enough of this intensely flavored cheese that Pinoys just love. If I receive one as a gift, I store it in my freezer and pull it out only when I need to use? it. Check out the three recipes here which take advantage of queso de bola’s sharp taste and creamy appeal.

WHAT’S IN A BALL?

Traditional queso de bola (the most famous being the Marca PiƱa brand) is specially manufactured ?in the Netherlands for the Philippine market. Also known as Edam cheese, the queso de bola shipped to the Philippines tends to have a saltier profile, which helps it last longer.

WRAP AND FREEZE

When storing your queso de bola, wrap it in foil first. Then wrap in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer. Don’t remove the red wax part. It gives extra protection, so make sure to slice without taking out all of the wax.

GRATE AND STORE

For added convenience, peel o the wax of your queso de bola and grate finely. Then place the grated cheese in a resealable plastic bag or airtight container and store in the freezer.

USE LIKE PARMESAN

Serve queso de bola with? any recipe that needs Parmesan or sharp cheddar cheese, like your favorite pasta. You’ll definitely raise the quality of the dish one notch higher because of queso de bola’s added strong taste. Yet it also has enough creaminess to melt nicely when heated.

 

 

Ham and Cheese Casserole

Serves 6 to 8

  • 18 slices white bread, cubed
  • 1/4 kilo cooked Majestic or Christmas ham, cubed
  • ?2 cups grated queso de bola
  • ?1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • ?3 1/2 cups milk
  • ?1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ?2 cups crushed potato chips?
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9- x 13-inch baking dish.?

2. Place half the bread cubes in?the baking dish. Sprinkle with ham, queso de bola, mozzarella cheese, and top with remaining bread.

3. Beat together eggs, milk and nutmeg in another bowl. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread. Make sure to cover the bread pieces well with the egg-milk mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight. 4. In a small bowl, blend the crushed potato chips and melted butter. Spread evenly over the casserole.?5. Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven or until bubbly and golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

 

Queso de Bola Spread

Serves 8

  • 1 cup grated queso de bola?
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • (1/4 cup)?2 tablespoons milk?
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt?
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper?
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced?
  • 2 cups (16 ounces or 450 grams)
  • cream cheese, softened?
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cashew nuts
  • 1/4 cup honey

1. Stir together all the ingredients, except the cashew nuts and honey, until well blended. Shape into a ball. Roll the?ball on the coarsely chopped nuts until covered.

2. Wrap cheese ball in plastic wrap?and refrigerate at least 8 hours but no longer than 48 hours. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Place on a dish.?

3. Warm the honey and pour over the ball right before serving. Serve with crackers.

 

 

Queso de Bola Cookies

Makes about 72 cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ?1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ?1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • ?2 cups grated queso de bola
  • ?1/2 cup milk
  • ?1 tablespoon chopped sundried tomatoes, rehydrated in warm water then drained

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.?

2. Place our and rosemary in a mixer bowl and combine on low speed with a paddle. Add butter and continue to mix until mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

3. Add the queso de bola. Then add the milk and sundried tomatoes.?

4. Divide mixture into 2 and roll?into a log using parchment paper or plastic wrap. Freeze logs for at least 1 hour.?

5. Remove logs from the refrigerator and slice discs out of the log, about 1.4 inches thick. Place the discs on the prepared baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart.

6. Bake the cookies until golden, about 12 minutes, rotating baking sheets between shelves halfway through baking. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

 

Photography by Pia Puno

Styling by Tina Concepcion Diaz