A smoked white cheddar cheese ball with a swirl of cherry jam
Heather Arndt Anderson / OPB


Superabundant dispatch: Test your PNW food knowledge, plus a recipe for a festive cheese ball

By Heather Arndt Anderson (OPB)
Dec. 22, 2023 2 p.m.

Plus a Northwest food trivia giveaway!

OPB’s “Superabundant” explores the stories behind the foods of the Pacific Northwest with videos, articles and this weekly newsletter. To keep you sated between episodes, Heather Arndt Anderson, a Portland-based culinary historian, food writer and ecologist, highlights different aspects of the region’s food ecosystem. This week she offers a recipe for a party cheese ball with a Northwest twist. We’ll be taking a short break next week to eat snacks and catch up on K-dramas — see you next year!

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Ah, 2023. We hardly knew ye. While the news can be bleak and harrowing, every year we make it a practice to reflect on the many things that did not suck over the previous 365 days. Over the past year we listened to flickers and cicadas, we smelled fresh tomatoes and linden blossoms, we nibbled crisp pears and tender green nettles. The holidays are nearly finished but winter has only just begun — we’re not quite ready to let go of our little treats and the good cheer they bring, so we offer a final recipe for the year: a festive little cheese ball that looks lovely on a New Year’s Eve party tray (but tastes even better as a sandwich spread the following day). In his first cookbook, native Oregonian James Beard featured half a dozen recipes for the cheese ball — what was the name of that book, and when was it published? Read on to find out!

Portland loses a beloved sandwich, true farm to table, vintage fruit crate labels, and year-end fun facts roundup

Mata ne, Tokyo Sando

Beloved Japanese food truck Tokyo Sando is shuttering (for now), leaving a shokupan-shaped hole in Portland’s heart. OPB’s Winston Szeto has the story, along with some wonderful history of Portland’s Japanese food.

ōkta restaurant gets by on its own supply

Award-winning McMinnville restaurant ōkta has begun growing its own crops, giving “farm to table” a much more literal meaning. “Superabundant” narrator Crystal Ligori chatted with the folks behind the scenes for “All Things Considered.”

Vintage fruit labels offer historical interest

Before cardboard was the norm, wooden crates with elaborately illustrated labels were used to pack apples, pears and other iconic Northwest fruits, drawing collectors from far and wide. OPB’s Dave Miller chatted with a few collectors on “Think Out Loud.”

Trivia lovers, we want to hear from you!

Over the past year, we peppered the newsletter with some of our favorite fun Oregon food facts. Send your answers to the questions below to superabundant@opb.org and if you got them right, we’ll mail you a “Superabundant” sticker!

  • How many bee species are there in Oregon?
  • What do steelhead and rainbow trout have in common?
  • What Japanese ingredient is commercially grown in Oregon — but nowhere else in the United States?
  • Which small Oregon town hosts a corn festival every year?
  • Why are peaches fuzzy?
  • Which of the four common edible nightshades is not native to the Americas?
  • In 1959, how many servings did Oregon’s centennial birthday cake yield?

Recipe: New Year’s Eve party cheese ball

A smoked white cheddar cheese ball with a swirl of cherry jam.

A smoked white cheddar cheese ball with a swirl of cherry jam.

Heather Arndt Anderson / OPB

Shrimp cocktail. Lil’ smokies in a crockpot of barbecue sauce. Warm artichoke-spinach dip. Some party foods never go out of style, but that doesn’t mean the classics aren’t ready for an update. While the cheese ball was purportedly first conceived in the turn of the 19th century, it seems to have fallen into obscurity until the 1900s. Here, the kitschy (yet infinitely adaptable!) cheese ball gets a reboot. While charmingly retro-looking (truly, the spitting image of rainbow sherbet), we find the port wine cheese ball that we grew up with to be a bit on the cloying side, so this recipe uses smoked Gouda to bring robust flavor and a swirl of cherry jam for a pop of color. Coincidentally, Oregonian cooking columnist Lilian Tingle also recommended adding fruit preserves to cheese balls back in 1912, and a year later, a Mrs. J.E. Rand of Portland’s Buckman neighborhood wrote to Ms. Tingle to share a recipe for her savory version. By 1940, Oregon’s prodigal son James Beard offered half a dozen versions of the spreadable snack in his first cookbook, “Hors D’Oeuvre and Canapes” (the curried and Mexican iterations are especially delightful). Makes 1 cheeseball

For other cheeseball ideas, check out Heather Arndt Anderson’s recipes at the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council website.


8 oz (1 brick) cream cheese

1 cup coarsely shredded smoked gouda, sharp white cheddar or other robust cheese

4 oz goat cheese

1 tsp ground black pepper

¼ cup cherry or blackberry jam

1 cup finely chopped hazelnuts

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

Crackers or baguette for serving


  1. Soften the cream cheese, gouda and goat cheese by taking them out of the fridge and letting them sit on the counter at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
  2. Stir the cheeses together with the pepper until you have a fairly uniform consistency with no pockets of any one ingredient. Spread the softened cheese into an inch-thick layer in the bottom of the bowl with a spoon or rubber spatula, then dollop on the jam in a few blobs. Gently fold and swirl the jam into the cheese, leaving visible streaks of jam (you’re not trying to mix it all the way in, you just want lovely ribbons of jam throughout the mixture).
  3. Pour the chopped hazelnuts and rosemary into a shallow bowl. Pat the cheese mixture into a rough ball shape in the bowl using a rubber spatula, then plop it into the nuts. Roll the ball in nuts until completely coated, then arrange it on a serving plate with crackers or baguette for serving. You can make this a day ahead of time — just wrap and refrigerate.

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