February 17, 2011

Say Cheese Please!

It can be piquant, peppery, prickly, bitey, intense and yes, even zingy! Artisanal cheeses can be the perfect platters to offer loved ones for your family celebrations!

The varieties are plentiful and can be such
 fun to choose and pair with seasonal fruits.

An Artisanal cheese is simply a cheese product produced in small batches, with close detail paid to the tradition on the cheese maker's art. These cheeses are normally handcrafted and are made from all types of milk, including cow, sheep and goat. The results produce lush cheeses that are a perfect beginning to a meal, as well as a beautiful ending! We love creating a bountiful presentation of cheeses, seasonal fruits, rich nuts and crusty french breads.

Since the possibilities are numerous in selections, it may be best to choose three when planning your buffet offerings. Soft cheese selections might include Brie, Camembert or fresh goat cheese. Semi-hard selections are Gruyere and Comte. Hard cheese selections would offer Cheddar or Manchego. Stronger flavored cheeses, which Estelle's loves, are Gorgonzola and Roquefort. Perfect squares of white and yellow cheeses are beautiful when paired with chunks of honeydew melons and fresh pineapple.

 Estelle's is fortunate to have a local creamery nearby, known as Silver Moon Creamery, located at Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook, Maine. Our favorite B&B, right here in the village, offers a delicious appetizer of Silver Moon Creamery Brie, Caramelized Granny Smith Apples And Hand Rolled Sesame Crackers! Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall....become your own cheese connoisseur and awaken your creativity!

These party starters combine classic flavors and were our 
chosen appetizers for
 Rob's Texas A&M graduation party!

Estelle's Roasted Stuffed Figs
12 fresh Mission figs, trimmed of any hard stem
1/4 pound Gorgonzola cheese, cut into 12 pieces
12 slices prosciutto
Honey, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 450ºF.
Slice each fig halfway down the center lengthwise; you want the fig to remain whole. Stuff a piece of cheese into the slit of each fig, wrap with prosciutto and transfer to a baking sheet. Roast the figs until heated through, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve with a drizzle of honey on top. Top with a roasted walnut. 

Estelle's Goat Cheese Tomato Tartlets
3 T. good olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
3 large garlic cloves, cut in thin slivers
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
3 T. white wine
2 t. minced fresh thyme
1 package puff pastry sheets, thawed , Use cold.
4 T. grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz. garlic & herb Montrachet goat cheese
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 T. julienned basil leaves
2 oz. Parmesan cheese, shaved 

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the onions and garlic. Sauté for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly. Unfold each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11-by-11-inch square. Using a six-inch-wide saucer or other circular object as a guide, cut 2 (six-inch) circles from each sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second sheet of pastry.
Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, score a circle 1/2 inch inside the edge of each pastry. Prick the pastries all over with the tines of a fork and place them on the sheet pan. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border. Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edges. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart. If the pastry is warm, chill for 15 minutes.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Garnish each with a sprig of thyme and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve warm.

Rob's Texas A&M Graduation Celebration in Pensacola! Gig Em'!

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