Cheese Boards 101: Imported Edition

The weather is chilly and the holidays are around the corner, entertaining guests will become more regular and the cooler temperatures demand heartier fare. Here are some tips for building a cheese board that is sure to wow! This version uses imported cheeses and if you haven’t already, be sure to check out our Local and Regional Edition.

ImportedCheeseBoard3

When building a cheese board, there are several things to consider: of course the types of cheese you’ll serve, but also quantities and accompaniments become important. If you’re serving cheese as a precursor to a fabulous meal, plan on 1-2 ounces of cheese per person. If cheese is the main event, plan on 5-6 ounces per person.

One thing you’ll definitely want to consider when building a cheese board is having a variety of flavors and textures. Our imported board features a creamy triple-creme French cheese, a sharp and nutty grana padano from Italy, a sturdy but creamy gouda from Holland, a sharp and bitter cheddar with mustard seed from England and a buttery sheep’s milk manchego from Spain. Think about how you can incorporate cheeses that use cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk so that you can taste the difference in flavor.

While chowing down on big servings of cheese is always fun and delicious, it’s also important to serve accompaniments that provide balance to the flavors of your cheeses. We like to serve some sort of candied nuts for sweetness and crunch. It’s also a good idea to serve some sort of bread item, like crackers, bread sticks or sliced baguettes. For this board we used crispy rosemary and sea salt crackers. Some sort of sweet fruit or chutney also adds for a nice balance. We have just begun pomegranate season and the sweet, juicy seeds add a nice balance to salty cheeses. And because it’s both pretty and delicious we like to serve a piece of local honeycomb from Woodland Apiaries.

Here are few other helpful tips when building a cheese board:
-Don’t overcrowd your board. You want to make sure that there is enough room to serve a knife for each type of cheese.
-Remove cheese from the refrigerator about an hour before your guests arrive. Cold cheese won’t have as strong a flavor.
-Be sure to label your cheeses so that you don’t have to repeat yourself all evening.

Now come on and let Dalynne, our resident Cheese-monger, help you build that perfect cheese board!

How To: Make Apple Cider Vinegar

AppleCiderVinegar2

If you have an over-abundance of apples, or peels and cores, then why not make your own apple cider vinegar? Sure, it’s easy enough to pick up on any grocery trip, but with some apple scraps, water and jar you can make your own! Apple cider vinegar is good for a whole host of things like cleaning, removing dandruff, clearing your skin and aiding your digestive health. So while you’re making those pies this fall or wondering what to do with the apples on your tree, save the extras and make your own vinegar!

AppleCiderVingear2

To make apple cider vinegar you will need:
•organic apple scraps, peels or cores (or all three)
•a large jar or jars depending on how much vinegar you’re making
•a cloth to keep out bugs and debris

AppleCiderVinegar1

Wash apples and allow apple scraps to brown at room temperature. If you have whole apples, cut them into slices first. Place them in a jar and cover with water. Place a cloth or rag on top and store in a warm, dark place like a hot water closet. Let the jar stand for 6 months, stirring once a week. At the end of six months you will notice a grey scum on the top of the mixture. Pour the contents through a fine sieve into another jar. Place cloth on top and store for another four weeks. Store vinegar in a covered jar in the refrigerator to preserve freshness.

One Bowl Vanilla Cupcakes

EricaW Photo 3 50mm f1.8

These delicious vanilla cupcakes are easy as….well, pie. They require one bowl, ingredients you probably have in your house right now and self-restraint because boy, are they tasty! We like to top ours with vanilla or chocolate buttercream and then garnish them with some small local blooms. These have mini zinnias on them and we think they add some nice color.
To make the cupcakes you will need:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
2 egg yolks, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the paddle add butter, sour cream, egg, egg yolks, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until smooth; scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula. Divide batter evenly among cups in muffin tin. Bake until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-24 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and transfer to wire cooling rack. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

To make the vanilla buttercream frosting you will need:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons whipping cream
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together beginning on low and moving it up to medium, whisking for about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add vanilla and cream and whisk until you reach the desired consistency, adding more cream or sugar as needed.
EricaW Photo 1 50mm f1.8

Homemade Dog Treats

DogTreats1We know that you think of your dog as your furry, four-legged child, so why not spoil them with these simple homemade dog treats? This 3-ingredient recipe is sure to get Fido’s tail wagging.
To make the dog treats you will need:
1 cup natural peanut butter (grind your own is best)
1 cup 2% milk
2 cups brown rice flour
Preheat oven to 325. In a medium sized bowl mix all ingredients until well combined. Transfer mixture to parchment paper on your counter. Place another piece of parchment paper over the top and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Using your favorite cookie cutter (we used a bone shape) cut out shapes and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Re-rolling scraps as necessary. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until treats begin to look cracked.

Rufus1

Grilling Guide: Best Burgers Yet

Burger1

Burgers are a summer staple and we’re here to make sure you’re equipped to make the best burgers yet. Follow our recipe and simple tips, then sit back, relax and watch your friends and neighbors chow down with delight. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when grilling burgers is handling them too much. You want to form your patties quickly and loosely, season with salt and pepper and then place them on a well heated grill. Another great piece of advice is to only flip the burgers once and DO NOT (for the love of grass-fed beef!) press down on your patties. Doing this only releases the moisture that’ll make your burgers the juiciest in town. And backyard grilling is about creating envy among grillers, no?!

To make these burgers you will need:
11/2 pounds of ground chuck, 80% lean
coarse salt
ground black pepper
4 slices sharp cheddar
4 large burger buns
4 lettuce leaves
4 slices tomato
½ sweet onion, sliced into thick rings
Mayo and ketchup, optional
4 burger buns from the Co-op Bakery

Prepare and heat grill. Gently form four patties, being careful not to over-handle as it can lead to tough meat. Generously season both sides with salt and pepper. Place burgers directly over flame and grill for 3 minutes. Flip over and place once slice of cheese on cooked side. Grill for 4-5 more minutes for medium. Toast buns on grill. Place burger on bun and top with veggies, mayo and ketchup.

DIY: Catnip Toys

CatnipToyCollageCatnip, a member of the mint family, has quite the intoxicating effect on some felines. This perennial plant triggers a neurological response in your furry friend, first stimulating him then calming him down. The stimulation can last from 10-20 minutes or until your kitty loses interest. Their brains typically reset in a couple hours and become susceptible to catnip’s affects again.

To make your own Catnip Sardines you will need:
felt (in whatever color you like), plus black and white for the eyes
thread in a matching color
non-toxic fabric glue
dried catnip
at least 1 eager cat
1. Trace the shape of a sardine on felt (2 per toy) and cut out. Cut out small black and white circles for the eyes and set aside.
2. Place two cut-outs on top of each other and beginning near the head of the sardine, stitch (using a back stitch) around the outside. Be sure to go around the tail side, vs. the head side, because it will be easier to fill it with catnip at the widest point.
3. Once you are back around the other side near the head, fill the toy with dried catnip, using a pencil to stuff the catnip down until the sardine is full.
4. Stitch the rest of the toy together and glue the eyes on each side.
Satchmo1

How-To: Bagels with Barley Malt Syrup

Bagels

Nothing makes a morning like a bagel and schmear. The only to make that better is making it a freshly made Co-op bagel, made the traditional way, with Barley Malt Syrup.  And for you overachievers out there, we have the Co-op’s bagel recipe right here. Barley malt syrup is made from sprouted barley, which is then dried, mixed with water and cooked down to make a thick syrup. It has a distinct flavor, like molasses, making it a great choice for baked goods. It also helps give bagels their nice caramel brown color when baked.
To make the bagels you will need:

1 1/2 cups tepid water (105°F to 110°F) plus 1 tablespoon for the egg wash
1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
4 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons malted barley syrup
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 large egg white
Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, cheese, pickled jalapeño or coarse salt for topping

  1. Place 1 1/2 cups of the tepid water in a bowl and dissolve the yeast completely; set aside. Combine flour, malt syrup, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Add yeast mixture, scraping any undissolved yeast out of the bowl with a spatula.
  2. Mix on low until most of the loose flour has been worked into the dough and the dough looks shredded, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium low and continue mixing until the dough is stiff, smooth, and elastic, about 8 to 9 minutes more. The dough should be dry, not tacky or sticky, and somewhat stiff.
  3. Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a large oiled bowl, and turn it to coat in oil. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rise in a warm place, until it is noticeably puffy and springs back when you poke it, about 20 minutes. (The dough will not double in size.)
  4. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425°F and arrange the rack in the middle. Fill a large, wide, shallow pan (about 3 to 6 quarts) with water, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and let simmer. Cover until you’re ready to boil the bagels. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper greased with oil. Place a metal rack inside of a second baking sheet and set aside.
  5. Turn the risen dough out onto a dry surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.(While you work, keep the dough you’re not handling covered with a damp towel to prevent drying.) Roll each piece into a 9-inch-long rope, lightly moisten the ends with water, overlap the ends by about 1 inch, and press to join so you’ve created a bagel. As necessary, widen the hole in the middle so it is approximately the size of a quarter. Cover the shaped bagels with a damp towel and let rest 10 minutes.
  6. After resting, stretch the dough to retain the quarter-size hole (the dough will have risen a bit) and boil the bagels 3 or 4 at a time, making sure they have room to bob around. Cook for about 30 seconds on each side until thebagels have a shriveled look, then remove to the baking sheet with the rack in it. Adjust heat as necessary so the water stays at a simmer.
  7. Whisk together the remaining 1 tablespoon water and the egg white until evenly combined. Brush the egg wash all over the bagels, then sprinkle as desired with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, cheese, jalapeños or coarse salt. Arrange the bagels on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 1 inch apart and bake. Rotate the pan after 15 minutes and bake until the bagels are a deep caramel color and have formed a crust on the bottom and top, about 10 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes so the interiors finish cooking and the crusts form a chewy exterior.

Weekend Baking: Seasonal Fruit Tart

FruitTart1Turn those delicious berries into a fabulous fruit tart using our simple and quick short dough recipe. You’ll be the hit of brunch, except for the Bloody Mary bar, of course.
To make the dough you will need:
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons half & half
In the bowl of a mixer combine flour, sugar and salt. Cut softened butter into pieces and add to flour. Mix on low until crumbly. Add egg yolk and half & half and mix until dough comes together. Scoop dough out and place in the bottom of a tart pan. Pat it down on the bottom and up the sides and prick the bottom with a fork. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and bake unfilled tart dough for 22 minutes, until barely golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

To make the pastry cream you will need:
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whipping cream
In a small bowl, mix half of the sugar with the egg yolks. Add flour and salt and mix until light in color, about 3 minutes. In a medium saucepan combine milk and remaining sugar in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Remove from heat and slowly stir half of the hot milk into the egg mixture, stirring constantly, being careful not to curdle the eggs. Pour the egg and milk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Over medium heat, stir constantly while bringing mixture back to a boil. Stir until the custard becomes very thick. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Strain mixture through a fine sieve, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. While the custard is cooling place whipped cream in the bowl of a mixer. With the whisk attachment, whip the cold cream on medium, slowly moving up to high until the cream is thick. Fold the whipped cream into the cooled custard and poor into tart shell. Spread evenly with a spatula.

To make the fruit topping:
1-2 cups of berries or sliced fruit
1/4 cup apricot preserves
In a small saucepan heat the preserves until they become liquid. Arrange berries on top of the pastry cream and brush the warm preserves over the top.

5 Uses for Coffee Grounds

UsesForCoffeeGrounds

After you’ve enjoyed your coffee for the day, put the grounds to good use. Here’s 5 ways how:
1. Add the grounds to your compost for a healthy dose of acidity.
2. Mix coffee grounds with olive, vitamin E or mineral oil and exfoliate dry skin.
3. Has your home been invaded by an army of ants? Sprinkle coffee grounds around doors and porches to repel them.
4. If your hands seem to perpetually smell like onions or garlic from cooking, wash hands and scrub with coffee grounds. They’re great for neutralizing odors.
5. If neighborhood cats think your garden is the best litter box ever, mix coffee grounds with orange peels and sprinkle into soil. The pungent odor will keep cats looking elsewhere.