Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I am a HUGE fan of cheese. I know maybe that's a trite kind of statement but it's true. In my house, we always have some kind of fabulous cheese in the fridge, be it a wheel of brie or camembert or a wedge of manchego or a small block of smoked gouda. There is nothing as nice on a warm summer night than fixing a little plate of cheese, crackers & fruit, pouring yourself a nice cool glass of sauvignon blanc and sitting on the front porch.

Or the living room, if you don't have a porch. Comme moi.

Anyway I found some great cheese-plate type recipes from Better Homes & Gardens that I think are perfect for entertaining guests (or yourself). They're easy to prepare, and are a nice departure from just cheese & crackers on a plate.

Cheese, Pears & Mustard-Laced Apple Butter

2 cups apple butter
2 Tbsp. Dijon-style mustard
1-1/2 tsp. dried sage, crushed
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1-1/2 to 2 lb. round semi-soft cheese, such as Tomme De Savorie or Brie
Fresh pears
Sage sprigs

1. In a small saucepan combine apple butter, mustard, and sage; bring to boiling. Stir in champagne vinegar; remove from heat. Place apple butter mixture in a small bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature.

2. Serve with cheese and pears. Garnish with sage sprigs. Store apple butter in the refrigerator up to 1 week. Makes 24 servings (1 tablespoon apple butter and 1 ounce cheese per serving).

Chevre and Tomato Spread

1/3 cup dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
4 ounces soft goat cheese (chevre)
1/2 of an 8-ounce packaged reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened
2 teaspoons dried basil, crushed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons fat-free milk
10 slices party rye bread or 20 assorted reduced-fat crackers
Assorted garnishes, such as quartered cherry tomatoes, broccoli flowerets, chopped yellow sweet pepper, and/or small fresh basil leaves (optional)

1. In a small bowl cover dried tomatoes with boiling water. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain tomatoes, discarding liquid. Finely snip tomatoes.

2. In a bowl stir together the snipped tomatoes, goat cheese, cream cheese, basil, garlic, and black pepper. Stir in enough milk to make the mixture of spreading consistency. Cover and chill for 2 to 4 hours. Serve with rye bread or crackers. If desired, top with assorted garnishes. Makes 1-1/4 cups spread (10 servings).

Parmesan Artichoke Spread

1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup dairy sour cream
1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup sliced green olives
2 tablespoons chopped pepperoncini salad peppers
1 tablespoon snipped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
20 toasted baguette slices (1/4 inch thick)

1. In a mediuum bowl, stir together cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, and sour cream. Stir in artichoke hearts, olives, peppers, parsley and lemon peel. Spread on toasted baguette slices. Makes 1-1/4 cups or 20 (1-tablespoon) servings.

Avacado-Feta Salsa (My FAVORITE!)

2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled, and chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh oregano
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. red or white wine vinegar
4 oz. feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
Pita chips or tortilla chips

1. In a medium bowl combine tomatoes, avocado, onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, oil, and vinegar. Stir gently to mix. Gently stir in feta cheese. Cover and chill for 2 hours or up to 6 hours. Serve salsa with pita or tortilla chips. Makes 12 (1/4 cup) servings



Nicky said...

I love cheese!!! You are truly a girl after my own heart. The aforementioned wine/cracker/cheese/fruit plate is exactly my idea of a lovely evening. I will try some of your recipies. Though this week's thrill for me is the 2 pound bag of shrimp in my fridge. I'm going to town with the shrimp recipes!!!

Sarah said...

i loooove shrimp!! <3<3 and i am making the feta avacado salsa tonight to go with our turkey tacos!