Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cheese Theater

Cheese Manchego Display

I attended a seminar yesterday down in Charlotte and got to watch and participate in creating some beautiful cheese displays like this one.  Three wheels of Manchego were stacked on each other and several wheels were cut and stacked in a stair step manner around the wheels.  Then it was dressed up with some fig jam, quince and pear fruit pastes, a real pear here and there and some almonds (that didn’t show up in the photo) and there you have a beautiful display.   On the lower shelves of the butcher block table we had bottles of Spanish wine and beer and some crackers. 


    Cheese Pamesan Reggiano Scoring     Cheese Parmesan Reggiano Half

I never get tired of watching someone crack open a wheel of Parmesan Reggiano.  It takes lots of finesse and muscle along with scoring tools, and chisels to pop it open and once it is cracked open it is a thing of beauty.


 Cheese Parm Reg. and Affinage

And look at this beautiful display of Parmesan Reggiano.

Cheese Parrano Double Cut 

And here is a bit more of what I was calling “Cheese Theater” yesterday.  Two wheels of Parrano (one of my favorites) were stacked and  cut at the same time.  I have to give this a try.

Cheese Affinage Case     Cheese Brie Brule

I was in a wonderful store yesterday that had an Affinage cheese case.  It’s the first one I have seen.  It’s used to age various cheeses to their perfect ripeness and of course it’s a beautiful way to display some of your best and most unique cheeses.  And lastly, I came across a new product called Brie Brule. ( You can also find it here.)  It’s a dry seasoning mix you can sprinkle on top of your brie before you bake it.  This one was Honey, Orange, with Black Pepper.  What a wonderful sounding combination n’est pas?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Cheese Mimolette

What a crazy week it’s been and it’s not even Friday yet,  Monday I had jury duty.  Augh!!  Luckily, I was not picked to serve because all three of the cases (2 criminal and 1 civil) were postponed and I didn’t have to serve.  But, that was after spending most of the day in a HOT jury room bored out of my mind before we were finally dismissed! 

Today was much more fun.  I spent it at a cheese seminar learning all kinds of tips and tricks and I got to try a new cheese today that I just loved.  It’s called Mimolette and it’s a French cow’s milk cheese that was just delicious.  At first I thought they were cutting up a cantaloupe melon because of it’s round shape and bright orange interior.  So delicious and highly recommended.  I am exhausted so more about my day of cheese later.  Seriously, look for the Mimolette next chance you get!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My New Laptop


It’s about time!  My frustration level should come down a few pegs now that I have my new laptop.  I was so close to being out of memory on my last one that everything I tried to do on it seemed like it was processing in slow motion.  I like to zip in and out of screens, you know, websites to go and virtual people to see.  Snap. Snap!  I am still figuring it all out.  Still downloading programs and transfering our virtual life off of the old laptop onto the new.  Mine is the keeper of the family photos and music library.  So, bear with me as I use this post to test out my skills on downloading Windows Live Writer properly and uploading photos from my camera to Windows Photo Gallery and then placing a picture on Windows Live Writer and uploading a blog post.  Ahhh…technology. 

I hope you are having a fun weekend.  I know there are lots of you out there hosting or attending graduation parties.  Tis the season.   Have fun!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Taco Salad

Taco Salad 001

We’ve been eating and I have been posting a lot of salads lately.  Today’s addition to my unofficial roster of Summer Salads (you can eat them in the Winter too)  is this recipe for Taco Salad. 

After spending the last couple of days at Freshmen Orientation with my son and being bombarded with huge amounts of information, a lot of which didn’t apply to us, and feeling like we were trapped in an episode of GLEE because there were so many song and dance numbers about things like how to  register for all the right classes, how to get along with your roommates, where you can and can’t park, how delicious the food is and selecting the right meal plan, what it will take to graduate in 4 years, rushing a fraternity or a sorority, the dangers of binge drinking, why getting to know your professors on a personal level is good, and of course the school fight song,…..let’s just say it was mildly entertaining and definitely exhausting.  :)

And then, because I wasn’t able to work for those two days, I had to double up on my cheese stores today to try and catch up.  Let’s just say, what to make for dinner was one more decision I didn’t want to have to make.  BUT, I went with the Taco Salad and every one was happy.  (Except the son who doesn’t eat vegetables but no problem, he was able to make a couple of tacos/burritos with the taco meat while the rest of us enjoyed the salad.)   This is a quick and easy lifesaver on those hot days when you don’t know what to make and don’t feel like cooking.  You still have to brown the ground beef but the cooking here is kept to a minimum.    The measurements are approximate.  Just add what you like.  If I was making this for a party or a large group I would assemble it all in a large bowl or on a huge platter.  For our dinner tonight, I just prepped all the ingredients and let everyone assemble their own salads. 


1 head of ice burg head lettuce, chopped

1 pound of lean ground beef

1 taco seasoning packet

4 small tomatoes, chopped,

1 bag of shredded Cheddar cheese

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 avocado, chopped

1 bottle of Kraft Catalina Salad Dressing

Optional: cilantro, black olives, black beans, corn, and crumbled corn chips.

Brown the ground beef and drain off all the fat.  Prepare the meat according to the taco seasoning package. 

Assemble the salad starting off with lettuce as a base, add the cooked taco meat, (black beans and corn if you want a really hearty salad, sprinkle with the Cheddar cheese, and top off with tomatoes, onion, avocado, and sprinkle with optional items like the cilantro, olives, and crumbled corn chips.

I usually make my own salad dressings but not for this salad.  We LOVE the Catalina dressing.  It’s sweet, sour, and tomato-y.  I like the pour spout on it too because it lets you decorate and make designs on you salad as you dress it.  What’s not fun about that? 

While I am thinking of it, I would love to know what bottled salad dressings you like to use?  I have had a hard time finding several that we all like.  It would be nice to have more on hand besides just Catalina and the Hidden Valley Ranch.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Candied Almonds

Candied Almonds 021

Put some Candied Almonds in a salad and you won’t believe the reaction you get.  They make an ordinary salad extraordinary. I’ve started putting them in this summer salad.  And if I put strawberries in a salad, the whole house is happy.  Well, almost the whole house.  My son doesn’t eat vegetables or fruit so we won’t count him but it makes my husband Jim and my daughter very happy.  So today, in honor of Father’s Day, I added not only strawberries and shredded Jarlsburg cheese to my salad of Spring Mix and spinach greens, but candied almonds too.  Lot’s of happy faces around the table tonight. 

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Candied Almonds

2 TBSP sugar

1/2 cup sliced almonds

In a dry pan over medium heat, mix the almonds and the sugar and stir until the sugar starts to melt and using a heat proof mixing spoon, continue to stir until the almonds start to brown and the melted sugar coats the almonds.  Warning:  there is a fine line between perfectly coated almonds and burned almonds.  And once you burn them, the taste is ruined and you will have to start over.  So, take it slow!  And be warned.  These get really hot.  Don’t be tempted to pop one in your mouth to taste test.  The natural oils in the almonds and the hot melted sugar will scorch your tender mouth.  Don’t taste till they are cool!

 Candied Almonds 003 Candied Almonds 005

   Once your almonds are nicely coated, spread them out on something non-stick to cool.  I just got one of those silicone mats like a Silpat.  The one I went with is called “Fat Dadio’s”.   It was cheaper and I liked the name.  Works just like it should.  NOTHING sticks to it.

Parchment paper works good for cooling too.  After they cool, break them up and store them in a cool dry container if you have leftovers.  

Candied Almonds 011

Then, assemble your salad, and finish with your favorite dressing. My favorite for this salad is my Sweet and Sour Dressing that I posted on the blog quite a while ago. It’s really good with the strawberries and the sweet almonds. I’ve included a link for the dressing recipe.

Candied Almonds 017

And there you have it.  A delicious summer green salad with strawberries, cheese (Shredded Mozzarella  or Swiss are also good here) and candied almonds.   

And before I go, I just want to say thanks for the kind notes checking on me.  I’ve  let a lot of time slip by since my last blog post.  All is good.  Sometimes, despite all of your carefully laid plans, things don’t always go the way you expect them to.  I hate it when people leave cryptic messages on their blogs or on Facebook making people wonder what’s going on and I really didn’t want to do that here so I haven’t said anything.   It’s  nothing big,  just lots of little things throwing me for a loop . Life just decided to heap it on in these last few months and slowly things are getting back to normal.   So thanks for sticking with me!