Any small retailer can tell you, the post-holiday slump can be extremely depressing. Needless to say, as a new business, we were so excited when the producers of Trisha's Southern Kitchen contacted us this past winter and asked if they could film the intro of a cheese-centric episode for the new season at our shop. It literally felt like the clouds parted, our hard work paid off, and our luck had changed. We had the best time filming with the amazing, generous, professional cast and crew. In July 2018, Season 12, Episode 2 titled "Cheese, Please!" aired on the Food Network. Link to the episode and delicious recipes from the episode. Thank you Trisha's Southern Kitchen for reminding us that a bad day can become a good day in an instant and that cheese is awesome!
I really enjoy entertaining, but like most of us with busy lives, I have virtually no time to do it. Using a few staples (slate cheese boards, a pretty wine holder, and whatever I happen to have in my fridge and pantry) I have mastered the art of entertaining with 20 minutes of prep time or less.
The trick is always having cheese, fruit, and a variety of crackers on hand. Hard cheeses will last in your refrigerator for months so you can always pull them out, cube them up and pretty much be done.
The spread I literally threw together in this photo consists of one soft cheese in the middle of a large slate board. I used Mt Tam from Cowgirl Creamery, and cubed up a few firmer cheeses from Canal Junction that I had in my fridge to place around it. To add color, I added some cherries and grapes and a combination of seasonal peaches blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries I had cut up and in a bowl left over from breakfast. I simply placed these items and some crackers on a large slate board (mine are from Brooklyn Slate Co - they are available at Follow me Cheese - I use my boards multiple times a week, so they were well worth the relatively small investment).
On my smaller slate board, I have whipped goat feta that I drizzled with Tru Bee honey. Making whipped feta or whipped goat cheese takes about a minute. All you need is a food processor (I use a mini one). First, put in the feta or goat cheese and "grind" for about 30 seconds. Then add a few teaspoons of whipped cream cheese (I just bought that at the grocery store and always have it in my fridge) and "grind" for another 20-30 seconds. Spread the mixture on flatbread (I used Trois Petits Cochons' Whole Wheat Petits Toasts - also available at Follow me Cheese). I placed them on the board and then drizzled honey over them. I have also been known to grab some fresh mint from my planter box filled with spices on my deck and just put a fresh mint leaf on top of each toast.
The point is not to stress and to use what you have on hand. Enjoy grazing and great conversation with your guests. Life is short, spend it with friends!
Virtually anything can be a creative outlet. Like snowflakes, no two cheese plates are the same. Creating a cheese plate should be a fun, creative experience. Color and variety are key. Every cheese plate should include cheese and crackers or a sturdy bread. Nuts, fruits, vegetables, jams, honeys, mustard, meats, and more can be added to create additional interest. We've even started doing themed plates. There are literally no limits and no rules. In fact, my favorite way to create a cheese plate is to use the season and the items in my refrigerator and pantry as inspiration.
For Valentine's Day, I use lots of reds and browns, even incorporating chocolate. I like the texture of my cheese plate to appear almost velvety (see cheese plate pictured below). For spring, I incorporate more greens and vivid colors, even shaping the arrangement to look like a flower (see cheese plate pictured above). Sometimes its fun to label the cheeses to let people know what they are and where they are made (see photo at the top of this post).
Let life and the world around you be your inspiration. Most importantly, have FUN and enjoy fresh, simple, quality food arranged in a way that makes you feel happy.
We continue to strive to make healthy, delicious, easy meals. This creamy pasta primavera with shrimp takes less than 15 minutes and is delicious.
Combine butter, half & half, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, and peas. Cook on stove top on medium/low heat for about 10 minutes adding in the shredded Parmesan Reggiano. At the same time, boil the angel hair pasta for about 3 minutes or until al dente. Drain the pasta. Add the shrimp and pasta to the creamy vegetable combination and serve. Top with remaining shredded Parmesan Reggiano.
We are all busy. Simple, healthy, delicious meals that are easy to prepare are the key to maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Always start with quality ingredients and it's hard to go wrong. I made this delicious pasta meal last night from ingredients I had in my fridge and panty.
Saute thinly sliced zucchini in frying pan coated with olive oil, salt, crushed pepper, a clove of minced garlic and squirt of Sriracha. After about 10 minutes on low heat, the zucchini will be tender. Add pasta to boiling salted water and cook to al dente. Drain pasta. Put pasta in serving bowl. Scoop zucchini mixture over pasta and garnish with glazed balsamic, a scoop of goat cheese and some grated Parmesan.
Follow me Cheese opened its first retail shop at the Shoppes on Fatherland in East Nashville on August 10, 2017. We are excited to be experiencing our first holiday season. We'd like to give a big "THANKS" to all of our customers who have supported us so far. As we learn and grow we will continue to expand our offerings based on what we have learned from our customers and plan to extend our reach. We have already begun to support our community and those non-profits that have the common mission of GIVING year-round and will always remember that GIVING, even in the smallest form is what this time of year and being a small business is all about. Together we can make our community a better place.
Today, we are offering a Cyber Monday Discount of 15% for all items available for sale on our website. Just enter code: CyberMonday2017 at checkout. Also, we have gift packs ready in our store. They range from $15-$30 in price and are a great gift for any foodie.
The kick-off to the 2017 holiday season at our shop was an event called Fa La La Fatherland that took place on Saturday, November 25. The Shops at Fatherland as a whole offered giveaways, discounts, food trucks, and holiday cheer. Our shop offered cheese samples as well as a pumpkin macaroni and cheese. The simple recipe which we made in our slow cooker is below:
Hey spice lovers - this recipe is for you.
1. Use a food processor or blender and combine:
3. Thinly slice three (3) yellow squash and one large or two small or medium zucchini. Add the squash and zucchini slices to the slow cooker. After the five hours, turn the slow-cooker to "warm" and stir in about a half cup of sour cream and three cups of shredded cheese. We used Lindale Gouda from Goat Lady Dairy in North Carolina.
4. To serve sprinkle top with about one more cup of shredder cheese and with garnish with cilantro and enjoy.
As the weather cools, it is the perfect time for soup. You may have already noticed, we firmly believe everything can be made with either a toaster oven or slow cooker. In the case of soup, always chose the slow cooker.
We set our slow cooker on "low" for three hours and combined:
Garnish with cilantro and you have a beautiful broccoli and cheddar soup.
Set your slow cooker on "low" for three - four hours. First, add about three cups of half and a half stick of butter. Sprinkle in some salt, ground pepper, and paprika. Allow the butter to melt completely. Then, grate and add in the cheeses. Allow to cook on low for about two hours. Finally, add a half pound of the pasta of your choice.
The shape and consistency of the pasta will dictate the length of time to leave it in the slow cooker. The pasta can take anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour to soften to your desired point. I prefer the pasta to be al dente. The final result will be a hearty Mac & Cheese that there is no need to bake. Simply, scoop into a bowl and eat. This recipe will be about four servings.
Need a quick, easy meal? You can prepare and make a pizza in your toaster oven in less than 15 minutes. I like to use Naan or a pocketless pita as the crust and brush the crust with olive oil. Then add the cheese(s) and other ingredients of your choice. Be creative and use what you have.
For the pizza photographed, I sliced Maplebrook Farm Mozzarella and a Roma tomato, then sprinkled with sea salt and ground pepper, and topped with Quince & Apple Fig and Black Tea Preserves. Cook in the toaster oven at 375 degrees for 12 minutes. After removing from the toaster oven, drizzle on some balsamic glaze. The mozzarella and fig and black tea preserves are available at Follow me Cheese.
Pair with wine and you have created a beautiful gourmet meal in minutes.
Danielle Deak worked in gourmet restaurants throughout high school and college. She is an attorney, published author, and connoisseur of specialty and artisan cheese.