Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Grammie's Cheese Logs - A Christmas Tradition

Nadine Townsend - aka Grammie. Although she's passed on now, in our house she comes alive every Christmas season. This once feisty redhead who always seemed to get the last word, left a lasting legacy that I've taken to heart full-tilt....her cheese log recipe. You haven't had the world's best cheese log until you've had Grammie's cheese log. Once you spread it's creaminess on a buttery cracker, you'll be back for more........and more, and more. I started bringing her cheese logs to work (along with other treats) as a way of saying "Merry Christmas" to all of my coworkers - what better way for someone who loves to cook & bake to say Happy Holidays!? I get numerous requests for Grammie's cheese log every year. Now, the Hubs says I should guard Grammie's recipe as if it were gold, but I think it's way more joyous to share a part of her so that people who will never have the pleasure of meeting her - can love her too! And they do - believe me! So...in honor of the one and only Nadine "Grammie" Townsend, I present, Grammies Cheese Logs...Now - I'd made the actual cheese mixture (above) before I decided to share it with the world. But you can trust that in this container is cheddar cheese, cream cheese, mayo, milk, Heinz 57 and liquid smoke. All ingredients were blended in a mixer until creamy - then I chilled it overnight. You don't have to chill it that long - but it firms it up so it's easier to handle and gives lots of time for the flavors to really meld. Before shaping it into a log - you'll want to get your walnuts chopped too - then put them in a rectangle pan that's at least 8 inches long. Oh - and reserve several full walnuts halves for garnish.
Lay two strips of plastic wrap on your work surface and on one of them, using a cookie scoop (I have three sizes and like to use the largest), plop down scoops of cheese mixture along the plastic. You'll want 4 or 5 good-sized scoops worth.
Fold the plastic over the scoops and use your hands to mold the lumps of cheese mixture into a log shape.
Once you've gotten the desired length, open the platsic and, holding the roll just above the chopped nuts pan, literally unroll the log right into the nuts. Give the pan a good-but-gentle shake back and forth to allow the nuts to adhere to the sides of the log.
Use your hands to sprinkle nuts on the top of the log and any other areas that are still bare. Lightly press the nuts so they stick. Once the log is fully covered, carfully pick up the log and press/dip each end into the nuts to coat them as well.
Lay the nut-coated log on the clean piece of plastic. Using the reserved walnut halves, take a knife and dab just a tiny bit of cheese mixture to the back side of the walnut half....
....then press the walnut on top of the cheese log. I like to line about three or four walnuts along the top. You can do more or less...whatever you like.
Voila! Grammie's Cheese Log - completed! Now... this is how I do Grammie's classic cheese log. However, being aware that some poeple may not care for a smokey flavor, I also like to do a variation which excludes the liquid smoke and trades the cheddar cheese for extra sharp. This is very tasty as well and has a nice 'bite' from the twangy extra sharp cheese :-)
Want to make your cheese log a little more personal? This is a mini cheese log! It's only about 2 1/2 inches long and I set a mini log in each flavor aside for a friend who was on vacation the day we had our holiday treats day at work. She'd asked me to save her a few bites and rather than smear a couple of knife-fulls into a container, I thought this'd be way more fun! It occured to me too that this could be a fun way to serve dinner guests....everyone could have their own mini log (even smaller than this) alongside sliced apples and pears and a few crackers. Kind of a special 'between course' nibble or a deviation from a normally sweet dessert!
However you size your cheese log, let me assure you, the actual log does not get any better than this log! Thanks Grammie!!!!!!
Grammie's Cheese Log
Ingredients (makes one 10-inch log or 2 5-inchers):
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz. package softened cream cheese
½ cup mayo
2 T milk
1 ½ - 2 teas. Liquid smoke
2 T Heinz 57
Blend all ingredients in mixer until very well combined. Transfer to plastic container and chill for at least on hour to let flavors meld and make it easier to handle. Meanwhile, chop walnuts and place in a shallow rectangle pan (like a 9x13 cake pan). Lay out a long strip of saran wrap and once the mixture is well chilled, ‘plop’ it out down the center of the plastic wrap (I use a big ice cream/cookie scoop to clump down the big blobs of the cheese). Fold the wrap over the cheese and use your hands to shape and roll it into a log shape. Once you have the desired shape/length, open the flaps of plastic and roll the log right into the chopped walnuts. Move the pan back and forth to roll the log into the nuts. Use your hands to turn the log over and to press nuts onto blank spots. Carefully lift log with your hands and press each end in the nuts as well. Carefully transfer log to a fresh piece of plastic wrap. Decorate top of log with full walnuts (use a little leftover cheese mixture as ‘glue’ to attach them to the top of the log). Wrap log in plastic and chill at least another hour before serving (if you HAVE to serve it right after rolling in the nuts, you could – chilling it just makes it a bit more firm after having handled it).

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