At holiday parties big and small, cheese-and-cracker platters are practically required. You can keep them simple with just some slices of your favorite cheddar and kid-friendly crackers, or you can dress them up, offering an array of fresh and funky cheeses and various trimmings. You can even ditch the platter notion altogether and instead opt for home construction when building your cheese-and-cracker setup, like the co-hosts of The Kitchen did on this morning’s all-new episode. With four walls, a stable roof and even pepperoni shingles, their Cheese-and-Cracker House is the ultimate in party-ready edible entertainment, sure to keep your guests chatting as they pick away at its exterior and interior.
Some people like receiving gifts. Others? They’d be quite pleased with one thing and one thing only: cheese — lots and lots of cheese. When family and friends converge at your place this holiday season, these are the cheesy appetizers you should greet them with.
Think of Melissa d’Arabian’s Bacon Ranch Cream Cheese Wellington (pictured above) as a cross between baked Brie en croute and a cream cheese log. After covering a bar of cream cheese in ranch dressing, chopped bacon and green onions, wrap it up in store-bought puff pastry and bake. It’s a flaky, oozing appetizer that’s elegant enough for entertaining, but the bacon and ranch flavors mean kids will love it too.
By Colleen Park
Whether you’re gathering friends and family together for game night or for game day, break out your favorite baking dish and make a hot dip your go-to appetizer. Though we love cold chip accoutrements like guacamole or layered dips with fresh veggies, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a perfectly crunchy chip topped with oozing cheesy goodness. As easy as they are to blend and bake, these hot plates will have everyone hovering around the snack table until the last chip is gone.
Warm Artichoke and Bacon Dip (pictured above)
Artichokes get a lot of love in cheesy dips, though you might forget there are vegetables involved when bacon gets into the mix. Giada De Laurentiis blends bacon into this warmed dip and crumbles it on top for bursts of savory flavor and crispy texture. And with a base of creamy mascarpone cheese, there’s no melt time needed. Just bake for 10 minutes to warm the dish through. Read more
American cheese gets a bad rap. It’s too processed, people say. It’s not “real.” There might be truth to these critiques, but one other thing is certainly true: It’s just so good. Melted to the perfect consistency, American cheese definitely has a place in our recipes. Here are six we know you’ll love.
Classic American Grilled Cheese (above)
This one’s a no-brainer. American cheese was practically created to be melted between two slices of pillowy bread. Jeff Mauro’s version pairs a white slice with a yellow slice for the perfect eye-catching mixture.
This week on Foodie Call, Justin’s hanging out with a big cheese — the VP of sales at Murray’s Cheese, that is. Elizabeth Chubbuck explains the world of stinky, pungent (and utterly delicious) washed-rind cheeses to Justin and introduces him to one of her favorites: an absinthe-washed cheese that goes by the name of Miranda.
Most mac and cheeses are made with one or two, maybe three, cheeses, and sure, they turn out plenty gooey and creamy. But what happens when you more than triple that melty, buttery goodness and stir in a whopping 10 kinds of cheeses? Richness and decadence of the best sort, of course. On this morning’s cheese-focused episode of The Kitchen, Sunny Anderson, the unofficial queen of all things mac and cheese, debuted this showstopper, with wowing results. And perhaps best of all, it’s both easy to make and shockingly easy on your wallet. Here’s how.
I’d like to introduce you to your new favorite grain, farro. Similar in taste and texture to barley, this hearty Italian ingredient is prepared just as you’d make rice, by boiling it, and is a culinary blank canvas of sorts — you can pair it with countless other flavors, just as you can quinoa or couscous. While you can indeed make a batch of farro while you’re planning the week’s meals on Sunday and count on it starring in simple salads for a few days thereafter, you can also turn the heat up on farro and serve it in a hot casserole, as Giada De Laurentiis has done in her recipe for Farro with Cheese and Herbs.
When it comes to sandwiches, you can skip the bread in favor of a wrap or skip the meat in favor of hearty veggies, but you absolutely, positively cannot skip the cheese. It’s the glue that holds everything together and usually the best part of any between-the-bread meal, so do yourself a favor and indulge in one of these masterfully cheesy creations.
Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese (pictured above)
No need for spoons with your mac and cheese when you’ve got Jeff Mauro’s recipe. Refrigerate a sheet of mac and cheese before you add two slices of bread, more cheese and bacon. Cheese level: expert.
Wine and cheese, the perfect pair? Well, yes, but there’s also beer.
The porters, stouts and ales we favor in winter — rich and sweet, with subtle notes of chocolate and caramel, fruit and spice — make solid companions for a panoply of cheeses, from earthy Stiltons to pungent Epoisses to Basque sheep-milk cheeses, Eater notes. However, the site contends that we shouldn’t overlook summer’s saisons, Pilsners and pale ales for cheese pairings, as long as we make sure these subtler brews are not overwhelmed by a too-strong fromage.
Cheesy does it, cheese lovers. In addition to taking your favorite food by the block, don’t forget that one of the most-splendid ways to use cheese is in go-to side dishes.
1. Mashed Potatoes + Cheese
Mashed potatoes are normally improved upon with a lake of gravy in the center, but they’re even better than that when a little cheese gets involved. Ina Garten stirs garlicky herb goat cheese (as well as sour cream, butter and half-and-half) into her Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes for Food Network Magazine (pictured above). After sprinkling the creamy side with Parmesan, she sets it in the oven so it gets a nice golden-browned top. You might never take your mashed taters without cheese again.