Tag Archives: cheese

A Treatise: How to Make the Perfect Cheese Plate

A comprehensive guide to making the perfect cheese plate.

Step one: Buy cheese.
This should seem obvious, as this is a lesson on cheese plate-makery. But some of you aren’t that bright.
No, no nooooo, not YOU. You’re GREAT. Have you done something different with your hair?! It looks so shiny.
Other “real” sources of food/entertaining media are going to give you some practical advice for how to tackle this subject. Go for different flavors, textures, types of cheese (cow/goat/other) (what the shit is the other?) (oh god, I hope it isn’t pig).
But I’m going to tell you a few things they’re not going to tell you.
A) Buy what you like. There ain’t no shame in simplicity. So get something that you crave. Need to work on the cheap? Kraft singles cut into quarters, Cracker Barrel block of extra sharp cheddar, Easy Cheese. Serve with Chicken in a Biskit crackers and bologna. Mic drop.
B) This is probably a really controversial move in the world fromage but I’m going to say it: test a new cheese on your plate.
I KNOW. This is basically the wildest idea since sliced cheese.
You’ll never know if you like it til you try something new. Now, this is risky. I once bought a cheese that sounded delicious in theory and tasted like cigarette butts, so I threw that shit out. Which was frustrating because it was a waste of money. But, now I know: Cigarette Butt Goat’s Cheese is not for me. I should’ve probably looked at the name before I bought it…
This is where it’s great to find samples wherever you can: at the local Farmer’s Market, your gro sto, wherever. At my local Kroger, there is a Murray’s Cheese Bar outpost and they have bins of cheeses for $5 and under. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to try new cheeses. You know, if you live in Richmond by the Carytown Kroger. #specific #rva
Step two: Pair that cheese with some stuff.
Eloquently said, Novak.
Bring some other players to the key party cheese plate. This is a way to bring some other textures, flavors, some more salt, some more sweet to the table. Olives are always a welcome sight on my cheese plate because their brininess typically hits my palate in a different way than the cheeses do. Throw in some meats, some grainy mustard, some tart jam and you’ve got yourself a stew going.
Cheese, please.

Cheese, please.

Step Three: Let your cheese sit on the counter for an hour before you serve.
This is really the only rule I live by.
Not, like, in my life.
I live by PLENTY of rules. Like, traffic rules. And a lot of social conventions. But this is my one hard and fast cheese plate rule. I really should’ve been more specific. I’ll add “be more specific” to the ole rule book.
When you pull cheese from the fridge, it has a completely different texture and taste than when it sits on the counter for an hour or so. This is one of those things that I heard and was like, “well, that is utter rubbish.”
And then I tried it and was like, “well, clearly I am utter rubbish.” The cheese is genuinely so much better after the chill has come off. You get all the nuances.
So there you have it. Three easy steps to make the perfect cheese plate. Which was always perfect because it was made by you. (Cue the Full House-style audience reaction: awwwwwwww).
Make yourself happy. Eat some cheese.
That’s a rule to live by if ever I’ve heard one.
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Food-vertisment: Sargento Commercials make me Swiss-cidal

Let’s play Specific Desert Island.

You’re trapped on a desert island. You have all sorts of islandy things to eat: pineapples, warthogs, fishes, rum. But you get to bring a lifetime supply of any one item with you. What is it?

There is no wrong or right answer here, people.

Except my answer is the right answer and every other answer is the wrong answer.

Don’t you see? It’s cheese. You won’t find cheese in the wild. You won’t find cheese in the sea. You can’t make cheese from a pig. And if you can and one of you has tried it, please don’t tell me.

Cheese. Cheese is the answer. Cheeses is the reason for the season. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I have 8 types of cheese in my fridge right now. How many types can I eat at once? I don’t know. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

I was watching the best episode of Chopped ever yesterday. They had an Amateur’s Brawl and it’s an absolute delight. Drew Magary of Deadspin finally got his chance to compete after his application for the show went viral a few years back.

This episode of Chopped was brought to us by the good people of Sargento. They’re Real Cheese People. #RealCheesePeople

Charles what now?

I’m including a video that I shot from my TV. Apologies for the terrible quality.

 

Did no one at the cheese company realize that CHEESE is one letter off from CHEESY? Apparently the writer of this spot set out to write the cheesiest muenster-fucking script there ever was. I take some serious issue with it.

You’re cheese people? Like, a person made of cheese…? You want a piece of real and a slice of legit? If you’re such a real cheese person, why don’t you put your legit where your mouth is and put a piece of cheese in your mouth.

A slice of legit. What does that even mean? Seriously. I make up phrases all the time. (I take you back 2 paragraphs to “muenster-fucking.”) But a “slice of legit.” That’s puffery.

Now, don’t think I don’t understand what they’re going for here. They want us to REALLY understand that their cheese is real cheese. They’re trying to distinctly differentiate themselves from Kraft singles, which is “processed cheese food.” This is actual cheese. Made from actual milk. For real cheese people.

And real cheese people are authentic. And legit.

Like these two guys.

#RealCheesePeople

#RealCheesePeople

These two guys who look like they were just told their wives have been killed by wolves in the barn behind them and then forced at gunpoint to hold up this picture of distant relatives for a TV shoot.

Seriously. These guys look like they HATE cheese. And barns. And definitely wolves. They certainly don’t get off on the creamy mouthfeel of a piece of camembert. Or the oniony bite of a piece of cotswold. These are not people who have bought cheese for their best friend as a birthday present. (Yes, I have done that. What of it?)

But these guys dweebs. These dweebs live their life shredding authenticity wherever they go. They’re so mother-feta legit.

Listen, I could get all arrogant about who wrote this piece of real. (Get it?) But…who approved it?

Seriously. Who thought that this made anyone want to buy cheese?

This commercial is a handjob for the Sargento family. And I think that we can all tell by their faces that they’re not having a very good time.

But hey. If there’s one thing we can say about them, is that they’re real cheese people.

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Book Club: Literary Snacks for Ladies

There are certain things that only ladies do when they hang out with other ladies.

  • Talk about boys. “He’s so cute, right? Is he cute? I like him so much. Does he like me? Does he notice that I looked at him a little bit longer than normal today? Cause I did. He should’ve noticed it. It meant a lot to me, and I can’t believe he didn’t notice it. He’s an asshole. I hate him.”
  • Talk about lady issues. I won’t go into details for all my male readers. And by male readers, I mean my dad. (HI DAD!!!)
  • Book club.

I’m pretty sure book club is a 100% female activity. Do dudes sit and talk about how they felt when Anna Karenina threw herself in front of the train?*

*I’m fairly well read, but Anna Karenina is not a book I’ve ever read. I’ve seen the Keira Knightley movie version though, so that’s how I know this. And, I’ve seen a Pulitzer Prize winning play about the book…sort of. I’m so fancy. You already know.

Also? Oops. Spoiler Alert.

Anyways, book club is a ladies occupation for ladies.

And this lady (me) hosted her lady book club a few weeks ago.

My friend Nora started the whole book club and, well, I’m glad she did. We’ve read a book I’d heard of but hadn’t gotten to yet (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn) and read a book that I hadn’t heard of but boy, did it make me cry in the airport (Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala).

But the most recent book club, I hosted. So, I choose the book. It was One More Thing by B.J. Novak (no relation) and it was hilarious. It’s a book of short, humorous essays. Some were dry. Some were almost poignant. But, boy, did they run the gamut. It’s well worth a read. OR, if you’re doing a long car trip, it’s worth downloading and listening to. He’s got an incredible cast of voices like Mindy Kaling, Jason Schwartzman, Rainn Wilson, Emma Thompson, Jenna Fischer and more.

So, what to make for a lady event for ladies?

Well, I like the tortilla española. Why not build a tapas menu? Also,  please note, this is a drinking book club, so boozing required.

  • Tortilla española
  • Jamon serrano because I cannot find ANY jamon iberico here in America. SIGH.
  • Spanish cheeses
  • Apricot and Goat Cheese Bites
  • Peppadews inspired by Leon’s in Decatur, GA
  • Pan con Tomate
  • Olives
  • Beverages, like Red Sangria and White Sangria
Oh dang.

Oh dang.

The apricot and goat cheese bites were the newbies here and #realtalk, they were delicious. And unbelievably simple. Make them right now for whatever lady event you have. I bet even boys would like the salty-sweet combo that they have going on.

Beyond that, sangria is a perfect summer drink. It’s bright and fruity, but has a boozy punch. I gravitate toward the white versus the red, but the red is a much more robust beverage.

I guarantee. This menu? Ladies love it. Girls adore it.

Y’all should trust me because I’m not internationally known, but I’m known to rock the microphone.

Absolutely Fabulous Apricot, Goat Cheese and Almond Bites from YumSugar

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
  • About 2 teaspoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves
  • 40 dried apricots, preferably blenheim
  • 40 almonds, preferably marcona
  • 2 teaspoons honey

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix together the cheese and milk with a fork until spreadable. Thin with more milk if necessary. Add the basil and mix until evenly distributed.
  2. Spread a heaping 1/4 teaspoon cheese on each apricot and top each with an almond. Drizzle with honey.

Please note! If not using marcona almonds, substitute roasted salted almonds (the salt is key to the appetizer’s flavor).

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Holiday/Celebrate: Margaritas Would Be So Nice

When it comes to this holiday season, you can count on two things.

  1. You will be invited to a holiday party.
  2. You will be required to bring something fabulous.

If you haven’t been invited to any parties, then…yiiiikes.

YIKES

But you probably all have been because you’re all very cool with nice teeth and good hair.

Our holiday party at work was a week and a half ago (I know, I know) and my friends Anna, Bailey and I decided to throw a little cocktail party beforehand. We planned really well, and had some delicious foodstuffs.

And by “we planned really well,” I mean “I planned ok yet had one major crisis.”

We had the party at Bailey’s, since it was right near the venue of our holiday party. So I was taking all of my stuff there. And since I was making two apps and a cranberry margarita, I was taking all my materials to her apartment.

As I started assembling my cranberry margarita, I realized: I left my tequila at home. And there was a parade going on downtown. And the party started in 15 minutes.

TEQUILA CRISIS.

Anna’s husband, Kevin, generously offered to go buy more but I remembered we were 3 blocks from my office. And there is always tequila at our office, so I took it. (Calm down, I replaced it Monday.) My work is drunker cooler than yours.

TEQUILA CRISIS AVERTED.

These cranberry margaritas are divine, y’all. They look like Christmas with the bright red margarita and the green lime. They’re sweet, but not overly so. And the tequila is present but not overwhelming, so they go down really smooth. The Chinese five spice on the rim is a revelation. Thank to Mark Fisher for the recommendation! (When Mark Fisher recommends a food or drink, you listen.)

As for food, Bailey was in charge of cheese and charchewterie (that’s what we call charcuterie). Anna made these amazing southern samosas and baked brie, and I brought a nut mix and ceviche. Basically, the two most random things ever. But they were good. Light and nibbly. Good party food. Good pre-party food. Good food for eating with your friends at one of your many holiday parties.

And if you weren’t invited to any parties?

Then just pop in your copy of Angels with Dirty Faces and go to town.

Junk and rubbish.

Cranberry Margarita from Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • Homemade cranberry jam, recipe to follow
  • Kosher salt
  • Sugar
  • Chinese five-spice powder
  • Fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Tequila

Cranberry Jam

  • ¾ cup fresh cranberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Bring cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and ¼ cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and jammy, 30–40 minutes. Mix in orange zest; let cool.

Jam can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Margarita Assembly

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 lime wedge, plus 2 oz. fresh juice
  • 4 oz. fresh orange juice
  • 6 oz. tequila

Mix salt, sugar, and five-spice powder on a small plate. Rub rims of Old Fashioned glasses with lime wedge; dip in salt mixture and fill glasses with ice.

For each cocktail, combine ½ oz. lime juice, 1 oz. orange juice, 1½ oz. tequila, and 2 Tbsp. cranberry jam in a cocktail shaker; fill with ice. Cover and shake until outside is frosty,  about 30 seconds. Strain into prepared glass.

This recipe can easily be made into a large batch and put in a pitcher. Just make sure final ratio is 1 part fresh lime juice, 2 parts orange juice, 3 parts tequila and as much cranberry jam as you like.

The Union Square Café’s Bar Nuts from Food Network

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups (18-ounces) assorted unsalted nuts, including peeled peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans and whole unpeeled almonds | I bought nuts at Whole Foods.
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maldon or other sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Toss the nuts in a large bowl to combine and spread them out on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until light golden brown, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, sugar, salt and melted butter. Thoroughly toss the toasted nuts in the spiced butter and serve warm. And once you eat these, you will never want to stop.

Blurry Southern Samosas and Nut Mix, y'all

Mahi-Mahi Ceviche with Japanos and Coconut from Epicurious

Note: There was no mahi-mahi available, so I used red snapper and it was a really good substitute. I also added one cubed avocado.

  • 1 pound mahi-mahi fillets, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
  • 1 ½ cups fresh lime juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 jalapeño chiles, seeded; 2 minced, 2 thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Saltine crackers

Combine fish, lime juice, and oregano in large glass bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Chill until fish turns opaque, stirring occasionally, about 50 minutes.

Strain almost all lime juice from fish; return fish to bowl. Stir in onion, minced and sliced jalapeños, coconut, and cilantro. Season with salt. Chill at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours. Serve in Martini glasses, or in a bowl if you’re not a cheesy nerd. Pass crackers separately.

Red Snapper Ceviche

 

 

 

 

 

 

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