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Appetizers, Vegetarian

Cream cheese balls with sesame and pistachios

Cream cheese balls with sesame and pistachios
Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Sometimes when I'm in the kitchen making fresh cheese, I imagine what it must have been like for the primitive nomads who first discovered that the fresh, sweet liquid they had so laboriously milked from their precious flocks quickly soured ... Read more

Total time: 25 minutes | Makes 15 cheese balls
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon nigella or black sesame seeds
  • Oil for greasing your hands
  • 1 cup firm homemade sour cream cheese or a commercial cream cheese variety, chilled
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped or ground toasted pistachio nuts

Step 1In a dry frying pan, toast together the sesame, coriander, cumin and nigella seeds over medium heat until fragrant, stirring or shaking the pan often, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Step 2Grind the seeds with a mortar and pestle or briefly in a coffee grinder, so that the sesame seeds do not release too much oil.

Step 3Oil your hands to prevent the cheese from sticking. Roll the cheese into 1-inch balls and chill uncovered on a greased baking sheet.

Step 4In a small bowl, mix the sesame seasoning with the salt and the chopped pistachio nuts. Roll the cheese balls in the mixture until well covered. Serve immediately, or cover and chill on a wax-paper-lined baking sheet until serving time.

Note: Adapted from "The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking" by Phyllis Glazer with Miriyam Glazer. If using homemade sour cream cheese for this recipe, let the cheese drain an additional few hours until it is rather firm, then chill well.

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