How to Expertly Make a Cheese Plate

How to Expertly Make a Cheese Plate

The holidays are upon us. This week is Turkey Day and before we know it, Santa will be here. As a foodie and holiday lover, I find myself attending a ton of holiday events throughout the season—maybe even hosting a few too.

A cheese plate is a must for any good event. It is quick to put together and instantly wows the crowd. But if you are like me, you have probably asked yourself, “How in the heck do I put together a good cheese plate?”

It took years of practice to finally master my cheese pairing skills. I ate a ton of cheese for the good of the cause. At the end of the day the main principal to apply is include all of the tastes and textures. Below are a few more principals that will help you create a great board:

  1. Variety of Cheese is key. I do not expect you to know everything about cheese (I certainly do not), so there are few good ways to get a good variety on your board. Look for different textures and colors. For example, grab a cheese that is speckled with peppers, or one that is encased in a rind. A second way to add a good variety is to pick up a range of softness, get a super hard cheese like parmesan and a super soft cheese like brie. Make sure you have at least three to four cheese featured on your board.
  2. Add something fresh. Cheese is a rich preserved product, so adding something fresh to your plate instantly adds another note. Grapes are preferable, but fresh fruit like apples or pears work great. Who doesn’t love apples with cheese?
  3.  Sweetness. If you have selected your cheeses properly you will have included a cheese that needs a sweet counterpart. Blue cheese loves honey. Another sweet option is a jar of artisanal jam or jelly.
  4. Nuts are needed. Salt and texture come from this addition. Again, another way to add layers of flavor to an otherwise boring presentation.
  5. Throw on some fancy pickled products. I am not referring to hamburger chips or pickle spears. Open a jar of olives, pickled okra, or any pickled vegetable. Including good pickled items adds a pick-me-up to the dish. The vinegar cuts through the decadent cheese and cleanses the palate.
  6. Meats are mandatory. The argument can be made that adding cured meats make the board more of a charcuterie than a cheese plate. I disagree. A few cured meats satisfies the meat lovers in the room and adds even more dimension to the party. I often find myself lean towards prosciutto.
  7. Clean out your pantry. If you are struggling to fill up your board take a dive into your pantry. I often throw together a adequate presentation with just a few items from the pantry.
  8. Serve more than one type of cracker. Nobody wants a sleeve of ritz crackers thrown next to the cheese. Amp it up a little and give your guests a variety of crackers. I also love toasting bread points to add into the mix.

Happy Holidays and I hope you are inspired to get out there and use your own creativity in sharing food for the season.

 

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My Mama’s Meatloaf

My Mama’s Meatloaf

Every southerner has certain foods that are quintessential nostalgia. Growing up most southern mothers had a select few recipes that were rotated around their weekly dinners. My mom’s favorites were meatloaf, salmon patties, vegetable soup, roast in the crock pot–my favorite was her meatloaf.

Without hesitation she passed down the recipe. Recanting, a dash here and a pour there…without many measurements. I wrote down her recipe, which was scant on direction, and treasured it. She gave it to my at least five years ago, and it has taken just that long to get the recipe close to how she makes it. I still have yet to perfect that special something that comes only when a family member makes your food.

So yes this is my mother’s recipe but with a few liberties (or at least some tips I found useful along the way).

Meatloaf is a budget friendly meal. One pound of ground beef is relatively cheap at the grocery store and can be stretched by adding a few ingredients to make a hearty family supper. My mom always served hers with mashed potatoes and those little sweet green peas. I like to eat it leftover between two slices of toasted bread and a slathering of mayonnaise.

1X4A1997

My Mama's Meatloaf

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Category: Recipes

Servings: 4-6 people

My Mama's Meatloaf

Ingredients

  • 1 Pound of Organic Ground Beef
  • 1 Package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 6 Ritz Crackers, crushed into crumbs
  • 1 Slice of Stale Bread, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • Pinch of Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Small Can of Tomato Paste
  • 1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of Brown Sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the ground beef, egg, crackers, bread, Lipton onion soup mix, onion, 1/2 of the tomato paste, and salt and pepper.
  • Mix together well, until everything looks combined.
  • Place mixture into a small loaf pan and smooth the top. Lightly pack it down to make sure everything sticks together.
  • Take the remaining tomato paste and mix in the brown sugar and worcestershire.
  • Pour the tomato paste over the top of the meatloaf and spread evenly.
  • Bake for one hour.
  • Serve while still hot.
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1X4A2002

Cajun Meat Bread

Cajun Meat Bread

Most southern food is bone sticking and hearty. A style that can be contributed to the economics of survival.

This recipe is not different. A full loaf of bread is stuffed with meats, cheeses, and vegetables before being baked off. The result is a spicy gooey filled bread that acts as the perfect appetizer for any party.

This is a dish that I have eaten since I was a little girl, even considering it is difficult to find many versions of it in cookbooks or online.

Everyone in my family loves it. It originates from my Aunt’s mother, Mary Joyce, who is Cajun through and through. It is one of those items that is always present at family gatherings – especially large ones. A fact that is evident by the size of the portions used in the original recipe that was given to me:

IMG_4393.jpg

Personally, I do not cook for 80-100 people. I have a small family. So, the challenge with recreating this recipe was doing so in a way that would feed a smaller group. Lets say 10-12 people.

During my first test run of the condensed version of this recipe, I realized that the original recipe was missing some important instructions. A lack of instruction can easily be attributed to the fact that May Joyce has made this time and time again, so writing down all of the finite details was not something she needed to do. She has them all memorized.

To fill in the gaps, I did a little digging.  I found a recipe for creole meat bread by Emeril Lagasse, click here.

There is a large difference in creole and cajun food. Creole food is the result of many nationalities who settled in New Orleans. In many creole recipes you will find inspiration from West African, Spanish, Haitian, French, and many other cultures.

Cajun food comes from the Acadian people and has a French influence. You will find Cajun food primarily outside of the city…where my family lives.

Comparing the two, although one cajun and one creole,  helped fill in some of the gaps.

I present my version of meat bread. Of course it will never be good as the original I ate growing up. It is not easy to include the love that is thrown into every family recipe that is made for you, instead of by you.

For another Louisiana inspired recipe, click here.

Cajun Meat Bread

Category: Recipes

finsihed sliced and plated meat bread

Ingredients

  • 1 Pound of Ground Beef
  • 1 Pound of Andouille Sausage, cut into small squares
  • 1 Large Onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 Large Bell Pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 Tablespoon of Hot Sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon of Cajun Seasoning
  • 2 Small Cans of Mushrooms
  • 1 Cup of Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 Cup of Shredded Swiss Cheese
  • 1 Cup of Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 4 Balls or Loaves of Frozen French Bread Dough
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Instructions

  • Start by removing the dough from the freezer to allow it to defrost.
  • In a medium skillet, over medium heat, brown your ground beef. Breaking it up as it cooks.
  • Once browned, remove the beef from the skillet and leave the grease in.
  • In the leftover grease, sauté your onion, bell pepper, jalapenos, and sausage. Cook until everything is nicely browned. In the last two minutes of cooking, add in the garlic. Cook until the garlic is fragrant.
  • Remove pan from the heat and set it aside to allow the mixture to cool.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the ground beef, hot sauce, Cajun seasoning, drained mushrooms, and all of the cheese. Mix until well combined.
  • Taste the mixture, and add salt and pepper as needed.
  • Assemble the bread by placing one of the dough balls on a well floured surface. Roll out the dough until approximately 24"x12". The measurements are not exact, and have some wiggle room.
  • Place 1/4 of your mixture into the center of the rolled out dough, and spread evenly. Leave a 1/2 inch border at the edges of the dough.
  • Fold the corners over, then gently roll up the filling and dough. You will roll from one long edge to the other.
  • Pinch the end of the roll into the dough to create a seal. If the dough does not seal, an egg wash will do it.
  • Place the rolled loaf on a sheet pan, seam side down.
  • Continue preparing the loafs until all of the loafs are filled and rolled.
  • Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until nicely golden brown on the outside.
  • Some of the filling may ooze out, and that is okay.
  • Slice and serve while warm.
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https://epicuropedia.com/2019/06/06/cajun-meat-bread/