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Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Life Around My Table vegetarian

Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers

Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers

My oldest daughter is holding this lovely tray of Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers.

It had been a year since her brain tumor surgery and she was working hard to get back on her feet and back to college. I think that’s why I love this photo so much. She was beginning to feel better and she was quite determined that day to help me shoot my food photos.

I love that about my kids. They are strong, brave and determined young women who have a heart for helping others. Although when it comes to helping mom in the kitchen… not so much. 😉

I’ve been planning my Thanksgiving menu and these delicious little nibbles will be on the appetizer table. Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers are simple to make, a little spicy, a little sweet and the creamy goat cheese brings all the unique flavors together. Honestly I could eat my weight in these peppers. 

If goat cheese isn’t your preference, these are just as tasty with feta cheese combined with mascarpone cheese or garlic and herbs laced cream cheese. On occasion I’ve even added a little bleu cheese to mascarpone and piped it into these little red beauties.

Top them with chopped toasted nuts, a Marcona almond or a pistachio for a little festive flair. Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers make such a bright and cheerful presentation and pair deliciously with cocktails. I’ve also been known to make them my dinner.

Wishing you all a warm, joyous and delicious Thanksgiving holiday. May your hearts and home be full of love and laughter!

Karista

Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers

Serving Size: 3 peppers per person

Ingredients

  • 2-3 jars of Peppadew peppers (I allow three peppers per person)
  • 4 ounces goat cheese (try to find a nice cream goat cheese that will be easy to pipe into the peppers)
  • 2 ounces mascarpone cheese or cream cheese (optional)
  • Chopped toasted nuts or Marcona almonds for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Mix together the goat cheese and mascarpone (if using). The mascarpone or cream cheese will make the goat cheese easier to pipe into the peppers. Although, I've found a brand of creamy goat cheese that works well on it's own.
  • Place the peppers on a tray. Fill a pastry bag with the cheese and pipe the cheese into each pepper. Garnish if desired and serve. You can make these a few hours in advance and leave them in the fridge before serving. Just remove them from the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to serving. I think the peppers and cheese taste best at room temperature.
  • Notes

    This recipe was first published in Home by Design Magazine 2014.

    Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
    http://karistaskitchen.com/2017/11/14/goat-cheese-stuffed-peppadews/

     

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Pork

    Easy Baked Boudin Balls

    Easy Baked Boudin Balls with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce // Karista's Kitchen

    I know what you’re thinking.  What is a Baked Boudin Ball?   That’s the question I asked when I first moved to Louisiana many years ago.

    Baked Boudin Balls are a Cajun and Creole tradition, steeped in one of the most delicious culinary histories.

    Friends and co-workers would bring Tupperware bowls of Boudin Balls to work for Friday potluck or birthday celebrations.  I remember the first time I bit into one of those tempting treats, filled with a regional spicy boudin sausage and white rice, rolled in bread crumbs and then fried to perfection.  They were so delicious and so addicting, I found myself standing around the potluck table stuffing my face with the savory nibbles.

    I left that event telling myself I had to learn how to make Boudin Balls at home.

    Boudin Balls got their name from the Cajun/Creole sausage, Boudin, that originates in Louisiana.  You probably won’t find it outside of Louisiana or East Texas, unless you make it yourself.  Typically, Boudin is prepared with pork, rice, green peppers, onions and seasonings, put through a meat grinder and then stuffed into sausage casings.  Grilled, pan seared, steamed or sautéed, every Boudin recipe varies from region to region and family to family.

    Easy Baked Boudin Balls with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce // Karista's Kitchen

    When I left Louisiana, I moved to the northeast and there wasn’t a boudin sausage to be found.  So rather than try making my own, I substituted with local sausage specialties.  Now living in the Pacific Northwest, we have a local sausage house that makes a variety of pork and beef sausages from locally sourced meat that are perfect for making Boudin Balls.

    Sometimes I make Boudin Balls with mild ground chorizo or a sweeter pork breakfast sausage; and sometimes I’ll use a hot and spicy Cajun pork sausage or chicken sausage.  Once, I even used a duck sausage – just for kicks.

    Whatever sausage you decide to use, I’ve simplified my version of Baked Boudin Balls so everyone can make these at home and enjoy a little taste of Cajun and Creole cuisine.

    To make the Boudin Balls even more delicious, I’ve paired them with a Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce – because you know how much my family loves a good sauce. 😉

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

    Karista

    Easy Baked Boudin Balls

    Serving Size: 10-12

    Easy Baked Boudin Balls

    These savory starters are perfect for game day, dinner parties, brunch, after school snacks or holiday celebrations. Or you can make some for a light and simple dinner and pair it with a glass of wine.

    Ingredients

    • 1 lb ground pork breakfast sausage, ground mild chorizo or any ground artisan sausage you prefer
    • 2 cups cooked white rice, warm
    • ¼ cup finely diced green onion or chives
    • 1 egg, whisked
    • 1 cup of plain breadcrumbs
    • For the Honey Mustard Sauce:
    • 1 cup yellow or Dijon mustard
    • ¼ cup honey

    Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Place the bread crumbs in a small bowl.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the ground sausage, white rice and green onions until nicely incorporated. Then mix in the whisked egg.
  • Form tablespoon size balls and then roll them in the breadcrumbs and place them on a lined baking sheet.
  • Bake them in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until they are nicely browned and cooked through.
  • While the Boudin Balls are baking, whisk together the mustard and honey and place in a serving bowl.
  • Let the Boudin Balls cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve with the Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce.
  • Notes

    I created this recipe for Home By Design Magazine and originally published in the Feb/Mar 2016 Issue.

    Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
    http://karistaskitchen.com/2016/02/05/easy-baked-boudin-balls/

     

     

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sassy Side dishes Soup

    Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters

    Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters // Karista's Kitchen

    I know I’ve been MIA lately and like all busy working Mom’s, I have a good excuse.  I simply took a break. I decided the world would not end if I didn’t post a new recipe or if I didn’t check my social media to see what I might be missing.

    I spent quality time with my family trekking around the Pacific Northwest, ate TONS of great food, (including these Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters) walked miles and miles like a tourist in Europe and found myself taking deep breaths and stopping to smell a few roses.  It was time well spent.

    I came back to a garden overflowing with tomatoes, cucumbers and Swiss Chard… and of course loads of laundry.  Tank came home from his vacation at the Muddy Dog Ranch and promptly walked to his fluffy blue bed and fell asleep.  We haven’t seen him since. 🙂  I think he had a good time.

    Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters // Karista's Kitchen

    Once I got back into my office I realized I’d better get these soup shooters posted before labor day or I’d have to rename them something other than Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters.

    These lovelies are creamy with a burst of fresh herbs and slightly sweet with the option of adding a dash of hot sauce for a little extra punch.  

    I paired this soup with fresh Oregon Bay Shrimp but you can use any size shrimp you have on hand or prefer. Lush and brilliant in color, these corn and shrimp soup shooters are a perfect starter for any meal and great for entertaining.

    Happy and successful wishes to all the kiddos headed to back to school!  And happy and restful wishes to all the parents. 🙂

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

     

    Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters

    Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters

    Ingredients

    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
    • 2 cups fresh summer corn, plus ½ cup cooked corn to finish the soup
    • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
    • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
    • 3-4 cups vegetable broth (enough to just cover the potatoes)
    • Dash of hot sauce
    • Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
    • 1 cup cooked bay shrimp
    • 10-12 cooked large shrimp
    • Garnish with a dollop of Crème Fraiche and chopped fresh cilantro

    Instructions

  • In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted add the onion and sauté until the onion is wilted. Then stir in the garlic and sauté for a minute longer.
  • Next, stir in the diced potatoes, 2 cups fresh corn, oregano, thyme, parsley and 3 cups of vegetable broth; just enough broth to cover the potatoes. Depending on how large the potatoes, you may need the 4th cup.
  • Cover and turn the heat to low and simmer the vegetables for about 20 minutes. The potatoes should be soft to the touch. Take the soup off the heat and let it cool slightly. With an immersion blender or in a standing blender or food processor, puree the soup until smooth. If the soup feels too thick, stir in ¼ cup of vegetable broth at a time until you’ve reached the desired consistency.
  • Stir in the ½ cup cooked corn and then season the soup to taste with a dash of hot sauce and salt and pepper. This soup can be prepared a day in advance. In fact, it will taste even better after sitting in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove the soup from the refrigerator about one hour before serving and gently warm before serving.
  • To serve the soup, add a few small bay shrimp to the bottom of each shooter glass or small bowl. Pour the soup over the bay shrimp and then top the soup with a dollop of crème fraiche and one large shrimp. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro if desired.
  • Notes

    I created this recipe for Home By Design Magazine August 2015 Issue

    Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
    http://karistaskitchen.com/2015/09/02/summer-corn-and-shrimp-soup-shooters/

    Appetizers Giveaways Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly VRAI Magazine

    Rosemary and Irish Cheddar Gougeres and Giveaways!

    Rosemary and Irish Cheddar Gougeres // Karista's Kitchen and VRAI Magazine

    This month, VRAI Magazine will celebrate it’s first anniversary.  To celebrate this momentous occasion I created these lovely and delicious Rosemary and Irish Cheddar Gougeres.   Gougeres are a light and airy pastry that pair deliciously with wine, cocktails or even a Mother’s Day tea.

    Rosemary and Irish Cheddar Gougeres // Karista's Kitchen and VRAI Magazine

    You won’t want to miss all the giveaways this month! To celebrate VRAI Magazine’s first anniversary each editor and/or contributor is giving away a special gift or gifts.  I completely adore this Italian Truffle Pesto so I’m giving away one jar for two fabulous readers!  Head on over to VRAI Magazine and enter to win!  To enter, sign up for VRAI Magazine’s newsletter and give a “like” to Karista’s Kitchen Facebook page.  The more you share, the more chances of winning.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

     

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly vegetarian

    Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey

    Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey // Karista's Kitchen

    I can never have too many appetizer recipes floating in my head and at the top of the list are these creamy Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates.

    Last minute guests, teenagers invading the kitchen looking for food or a quick treat to pair with a glass of my favorite wine or evening cocktail; these Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates are deliciously simple. I love that word. Maybe that’s because life is busy and hearing the word  “simple” seems to instantly infuse calm and tranquility into my moment.

    Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey // Karista's Kitchen

    I love to use locally sourced goat cheese and honey along with sweet holiday Medjool dates.  If I feel extra fancy, I’ll toast finely chopped hazelnuts or pistachios and sprinkle them on top.  These Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates are so easy to prepare while your guests, friends or family are mingling in the kitchen, chatting, laughing and of course, general merry-making.  Once out of the oven, I walk around with the baking sheet in hand, napkins and little party picks. Casual finger food that is gooey, warm, sweet and a little savory. Perfectly “simple” and delicious.

    I wish you the happiest and most delicious of holidays!

    Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey

    Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey

    Ingredients

    • Medjool dates, remove the pits which will create a nice opening for the goat cheese
    • Goat cheese, try to find one that is creamy for easy filling
    • Honey
    • Toasted chopped hazelnuts or pistachios

    Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  • Fill each date with goat cheese. If the goat cheese is creamy, I sometimes put it into a ziploc bag, snip a corner and pipe the goat cheese into the dates.
  • Place each goat cheese filled date on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet and place the baking sheet into the pre-heated oven. Let the dates bake for about 10-15 minutes.
  • As soon as you remove the dates from the oven, either transfer to a fancy platter or leave them on the baking sheet and then drizzle with a little honey. Top with crushed toasted nuts if you like.
  • Serve immediately.
  • Notes

    There really isn't much of a recipe here... just a container of dates, goat cheese, honey and nuts. Enjoy!

    Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
    http://karistaskitchen.com/2014/12/23/baked-goat-cheese-stuffed-dates-with-honey/

     

     

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Sassy Side dishes Soup

    Red Curry Cauliflower Soup

    Red Curry Cauliflower Soup

    I could eat my weight in cauliflower and in red curry cauliflower soup.  I like it steamed, roasted, pureed into mashers, served raw with pesto or Bagna Cauda and in soup.  Who knew this opaque and not terribly attractive veggie could light my culinary fire?

    I think it has to be in the top five of my favorite veggies.  Cauliflower is versatile, affordable, nutritious and relatively painless to prepare, just like this Red Curry Cauliflower Soup. 

    Red Curry Cauliflower Soup // Karista's Kitchen

    This soup couldn’t be easier.  It also holds well in the frig for up to three days, as well as in the freezer for up to two months.  I love pairing this soup with a seasonal chopped salad and crusty bread or Naan for dipping.

    I also serve this soup as a starter for a dinner party or a light lunch with an Asian chicken salad.  And of course, you can dine on a bowl of this soup a la carte with your favorite glass of wine.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Red Curry Cauliflower Soup

    Serving Size: 2-4

    Red Curry Cauliflower Soup

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 large head cauliflower (about 2-2 1/2 lbs) stemmed and chopped
    • 1 large yellow onion, diced
    • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely diced
    • 1 stick lemongrass, halved vertically
    • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
    • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
    • 1 14oz can coconut milk (not light)
    • 2 cups vegetable broth
    • 1 ½ tablespoons Thai red curry paste
    • ½ teaspoon turmeric
    • Squeeze of lime juice to taste
    • Season with salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions

  • In a large pot heat the oil over medium heat. When it’s hot add the onion and sauté until translucent. Then add the garlic, chopped cauliflower, lemongrass, fresh ginger, cilantro and vegetable broth. Let the veggies and broth simmer on low for about 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft.
  • Next, stir in the coconut milk, Thai red curry paste and turmeric. Bring it back to a simmer. Let the soup simmer on low for another 5-10 minutes to bring all the flavors together.
  • With an immersion blender, blend the soup to a puree. If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer the soup to a blender or vitamix and puree. Then pour the soup back into the pot. If the soup feels too thick, add another ¼ cup veggie broth until you feel you have the right consistency.
  • Season with salt and pepper and then add a squeeze or two of lime juice to taste.
  • Garnish with sliced green onions or fresh cilantro.
  • Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
    http://karistaskitchen.com/2014/10/14/red-curry-cauliflower-soup/

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen

    Bruno’s Crostini

    Bruno's Crostini of Herbed Ricotta and an Anchovy

    By choosing to click and read this blog post, you confirm you are of legal drinking age in the country where this site is accessed.

    I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since my visit to Tuscany.  Strolling through acres of brilliantly colored vineyards with deep purple Sangiovese grapes, chocolate brown stems and bright green leaves.  The soil rich with various shades of red and brown, telling visitors the fruit will be lush with gorgeous intense flavor.

    Bruno's Crostini of Herbed Ricotta and an Anchovy

    I can still remember strolling through the fragrant vineyards (I should say, eating my way through the vineyards) in awe of the sweet, juicy Sangiovese grapes.  The flavors so ripe and so sweet with a texture of velvet.  I kept pinching myself while thinking…   I’m in Tuscany, visiting the Cantine Leonardo da Vinci and the growers as a 2013 DaVinci Wine StorytellerAn enchanting week I will always remember.

    Visiting one of the DaVinci Wine Growers Vineyard and Home

    Visiting Bruno Rossetti’s Vineyard and Home

    I felt so welcome. Such lovely hospitality with the most gracious of hosts and hostesses.  And of course, some of the most delicious food that has ever passed my lips.

    While dining at the table of one of the growers, Bruno Rossetti and his lovely wife, I asked Bruno “what is your favorite crostini?”.  He replied “simply ricotta on crostini with an anchovy”, and then he gave me a million dollar smile.  Which of course melted my heart.  I smiled back and told him how brilliant and delicious his favorite crostini sounded.

    I started making Bruno’s crostini the minute I returned home.  I’ve adapted them a bit, depending on what I have in my kitchen.  Most often adding a tablespoon of fresh chopped oregano and Italian parsley to the ricotta cheese.   Spreading the ricotta, sometimes homemade, onto the garlic laced crostini and then topping with an anchovy or two.  The perfect before or after dinner nibble paired with a glass DaVinci Chianti.

    Voting for your favorite four 2014 DaVinci Wine Storytellers is nearing the end.  Twelve finalists have been chosen and they are depending on all of us to vote for our favorite four Storytellers.  Be sure to click HERE, and go vote!  You can vote once per day until voting ends.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Bruno’s Crostini

    Ingredients

    1 cup of whole milk ricotta that has been drained

    Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

    Pinch of dried basil or dried mixed Italian herbs // during the summer I use 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano and Italian Parsley

    2 cans of anchovies

    Olive oil

    Crostini (baguette slices that have been toasted and rubbed with half a garlic clove)

    Directions

    Whisk together the ricotta, crushed red pepper flakes and dried or fresh herbs.  This tastes best if it sits for about 30 minutes so the red pepper and herbs can infuse the ricotta.

    Spread the ricotta on each Crostini and top with an anchovy.  Arrange on a platter and drizzle with good quality olive oil.  Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley if desired.

    Serve your Holiday Antipasti Platters with DaVinci Chianti, DaVinci Chianti Reserve, DaVinci Pinot Grigio and if you’re lucky enough to score a bottle, the DaVinci Brunello.  Although I’d probably keep that for myself.

    Buon Appetito!

     

     

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen vegetarian

    Roasted Grape Crostini

    Roasted Grape Crostini

    Roasted Grape Crostini

    (Just one little question, I’m required by law to ask… By clicking on this link,  you affirm that you are of legal drinking age in the country where the site is being accessed.)

    DaVinci wine is created in a magical place. Tuscany is a treat for the eyes as well as the palate. The air smells of sweet sun ripened grapes and fresh herbs, muddled with the earthy scent of mineral rich soil.

    The beauty of the Tuscan region mirrors the beauty of its people and its food.  A culture rich with history and laced with passion. A passion that transcends all boundaries and flows effortlessly onto the family table.

     

    Cantine Leonardo da Vinci

    A Villa with a View

     

    Traveling to Tuscany this Autumn with DaVinci wine, I experienced the lovely Tuscan people who so graciously shared their love of food, wine, history and culture.

    I couldn’t write fast enough.  Or snap enough pictures to capture the awe inspiring landscape on which my eyes were feasting.  I found myself quietly content, and somewhat absorbed, at my place at each table; savoring the flavor of every bite of mouthwatering food.

    Fresh pastas that melted on the tongue like butter, complimented by fresh, local porcini mushrooms tasting earthy and woody and dreamy.  Rich slow cooked ragu’s of wild boar and rosemary, salt cured salumi and fresh ricotta on Crostini, Bistecca alla Fiorentina, the traditional grilled Florentine Porterhouse steak that never wore out its welcome on my plate.  All the flavors so beautifully balanced, clean and never overpowering.

    As I savored and contemplated each bite of moan inducing food, I sipped the most delicious DaVinci Chianti’s.  Wine rich and bold on the palate, yet subtle like soft velvet while I sipped.  And sip I did.  Yes, lots of sipping.

    The DaVinci Chianti has long been a favorite of mine, however, among the lovely list of DaVinci wines, I have a new love.  The DaVinci Brunello. Our captivating and gracious DaVinci Brand Ambassador, Giacomo Alari, calls the Brunello “a very polite wine.  Once the Brunello is on your palate it is master of your palate. Not in power, but in elegance like cashmere.  A great wine doesn’t have to be powerful to be exquisite.”

    I heard once that every bottle of wine has a story to tell.  That couldn’t be more true for the DaVinci Chianti.

    To celebrate this glorious week in Tuscany I’ve created eight lovely little dishes.  They will be unveiled throughout the next few months, beginning with the Roasted Grape Crostini.  Check out the DaVinci Wine Facebook page to download a copy of the recipes.

    Recipes inspired by a few enchanting people, stunning landscape and scrumptious moments.  Bewitching my heart as well as my palate.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

    Buon Appetito,

    ~Karista

     

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen vegetarian

    A Summer Cheese Tray

    DaVinci Wine and Cheese Tray

    Al Fresco dining on a summers eve; sun kissed breezes dancing gracefully through the tree tops.

    Bringing with them the fragrant scent of  herbs and warmed pine.

    This is the moment I’ve waited for all year.

    Time slows and with it comes a sense of languish.  Justifying the inability to pull myself out of a cozy deck chair and prepare the evening meal.

    Tonight, it’s simple.  It’s indulgent and it feels just a little naughty.

    A lovely granite tray, reminding me of the dear friend who gave it to me, filled with local artisan cheeses, aged parma harm, fresh chevre lightly bathed in homemade fig preserves and topped off with a bottle (or two) of DaVinci Italian Chianti.

    DaVinci Chianti

    A little excitement has come my way.  Well, a lot of excitement actually.

    I’ve been selected 1 of 12 Finalists in the DaVinci Wine Storytellers Experience, and 1 of 3 Culinary Finalists.  I am deeply honored to be a finalist and feel humbled to be in such lovely company.

    There are 4 categories being judged.  Culinary Arts, Photography, Language Arts and Fine Arts.  1 from each category (4 total) will win a trip to Vinci, Tuscany to visit the birth place of DaVinci Wine.  An extraordinary opportunity.

    I’d love to win.  I’d love to visit Tuscany and share with you my DaVinci Storytellers Experience via blog posts, Facebook updates, Pinterest pics, Tweets and Instagrams.   And if I could pack you all in my suitcase, I would!

    If you could take a moment of your time to click on the link below, I’d love your vote.  You can vote once per day until July 31st (unfortunately the link does not work on mobile devices).

    My deepest Thanks!

    https://www.facebook.com/DaVinciWine/app_120503418159819

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Setting a Summer Cheese Tray

    Determine the number of people you will be serving and allow 1 to 2 ounces of cheese per person.  Although 1-2 ounces is a good rule of thumb, I always end up with 3-4 ounces per person.  But I’m a cheese nut.

    Include a few other nibbles such as parma ham, aged prosciutto, assorted artisan salumi, Castelvetrano olives (I could eat buckets of these but beware of the seeds!) and fresh fruit.  During the summer I love our Washington cherries served with my cheese tray.

    Arrange the cheese according to the type of milk used.  Cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, goats milk. If using a creamy cheese, serve it separately and try pairing it with homemade preserves or red pepper jelly.  My new fave is creamy goats cheese topped with red pepper jelly.

    Keep the bleu’s together and try an assortment.  Rogue Creamery has a lovely smokey bleu which pairs well on a cheese tray with an English or locally produced stilton.  Pecorino Romano, Parrano, aged Parmesan, and other hard cheeses are best paired together.  An excellent local cheese that I paired with a Balsamic Vinegar washed Pecorino Romano is Cascadia Creamery’s Sleeping Beauty.

    A few local Washington cheese favorites: Willapa Hills Orange Blossom Yoghurt Cheese, Mt. Townsend Creamery’s Trufflestack and of course no cheese tray is ever complete without Beecher’s Cheese.  They’re all delicious but my fave is “No Woman”.  I know, funny name – excellent cheese.

    Whatever you decide, don’t stress over your cheese tray.  Choose cheese that you love, cheese that pairs well with the wine your serving and be sure to leave plenty of room between each cheese so they’re easy to slice or spoon.  Add the fruit and salumi and a beautiful summer evening begins.