Monthly Archives: April 2013

How to create a Mexican Themed Cheeseboard?

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Cheeseboard, in my mind, is a dinner party savior. It requires minimal effort to put together and yet, there’s a certain grandeur about it that gives a wow factor.  Rustic looking oak cheeseboard or a beautiful slap of marble, adorn with cheeses of various height, sizes and texture; condiments, nuts and fruits to complete the overall presentation.  I mean, what’s not to like a party favourite that can stand the test of room temperature?  Let’s not forget we need something to nibble on with drinks.

Cheese board is very much like, wine. It is very personal and there is 101 ways to go about it. It comes down to the type of cheese  most people whom you’re inviting and you will like.

Even though the idea of serving a cheeseboard is to keep the cooking or preparation down to a minimum, I wanted to step outside the box and put a little work into my cheeseboard.  I was planning a Mexican party and I basically wanted to slap a Mexican theme on everything. (Oh how original? ;)) Ideally, I’d love to source some Mexican cheeses like queso just to keep with the theme. Due to the limited cheese selection where I live, it’s time for me to improvise.

So here is what I came up with.

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The make-up of Mexican Styled Cheeseboard

The Cheeses:

  • Smoky Chipotle Whipped Feta (recipe bel0w)
  • Brie
  • Smoked Cheddar
  • Taco Cheese Log (recipe below)

The Filler:

  • Plain crackers
  • Fresh figs
  • Cucumbers
  • Pecans

Suggested Cheese & Filler Pairings:

  • Chipotle Whipped Feta + Cucumber + Cracker
  • Smoked Cheddar + Cucumber + Cracker
  • Double Brie + Pecan + Cracker
  • Taco Cream Cheese + Fig + Cracker

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** Suggested Cheese & Wine Pairing:

  • Chipotle Whipped Feta —– Pierre Naigeon Beaujolais
  • Double Brie —- Phillip Shaw Chardonnay
  • Smoked Cheddar —- Taylors Carbernet Sauvignon
  • Taco Cheese Log —- Mc William’s Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon

** Please note the wine selection was a join effort among my friends and the shop assistant.

The Recipe

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Chipotle Whipped Feta

What you’ll need:-

  • 200g (7 ounces) feta
  • 1/2 tsp of chopped chipotle pepper (adjust to taste)
  • Olive oil (approximately 1/8 cup); alternatively, you can add yoghurt
  • 1/2 garlic, peeled & roughly cut into small pieces
  • Juice from half a lime
  • Paprika to garnish

and a small food processor

Method:-

In a small food processor, combine feta, chipotle pepper, garlic and some olive oil and process until smooth and consistency resembling soft whipped cream cheese. I didn’t measure the amount of olive oil (which you can substitute with yoghurt). Basically I added the olive oil gradually and process it, check for consistency and add more olive oil and process it until the desired consistency was achieved. This is the case it is best to add the olive oil less than required rather than over done it as you cannot salvage the whipped feta when it is too liquidy.

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Taco Cheese Log

(recipe from www.food.com, tweaked)

What you’ll need:-

  • 250g (8.8 ounces) Philadelphia Cream Cheese Block, soften to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 spring onion, use the white and some of the green part, finely chopped
  • Milk (I didn’t add any milk but should you find the consistency a bit too thick and unworkable, feel free to add some)
  • 100g corn chips, crushed
  • A handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped – about 1 tbsp when it is finely chopped

And a handheld mixer, baking paper & cling wrap

Method:-

In a large mixing bowl, add the soften cream cheese and shredded cheddar. Beat until light and fluffy (add a little milk to ease the mixing if you like). Stir in chopped spring onion and mix until well combined.  Set aside.  Scatter half of the crushed corn chips and chopped coriander on a large sheet of cling wrap. Use a spoon to transfer the cream cheese mixture on top of the corn-chips-and-coriander crumbs, roughly formed a log. Then scatter the remaining crumbs on top and the side of the cheese log. Roll up the cheese log to form a smooth cylinder. Roll the cheese log again with the baking paper. Make sure both ends are twisted tightly like wrapping a lolly. Place in the fridge until it is solid for at least an hour. Unwrap the cheese log when serving.

Apple & Rosemary Infused “Tea”

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When the weather gets a little chiller or rainy, I have an urge for hot sweet tea. My favourite has always been adding honey to my tea.

Lately, my kitchen has an abundance of apples. It’s only natural that I’ve tried to infused my tea some apples and a stalk of rosemary. I am looking forward to experiment with more combinations of infused tea. After all, the weather is now perfect for it.

What’s your favourite drink for the colder months?

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Apple & Rosemary Infused “Tea”

What you’ll need to make 1 cup:-

  • 1 tsp of honey *adjust to taste
  • 1/2 small apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 stalk of rosemary
  • 1 cup of hot boiling water

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Method:-

In a heat proof glass, add honey, sliced apples and rosemary stalk. Then pour in hot water and stir gently to dissolve the honey. Allow apple and rosemary to steep for 4 to 5 minutes until the flavours are well infused.

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Fuss Free Cooking on Instagram

On a side note, for those who follow me on Instagram, I have changed my username from @emilyphotologue to @fussfreecooking. Instagram has so far been my favourite medium where I share parts of my life with so many wonderful people.  Thank you for following me as well as visiting my blog. I know I don’t say this enough but I really appreciate it very much! :)

How to work with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce?

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In my last post, I raved about my new favourite ingredient: chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  For those who aren’t familiar with this ingredient, this post will give you an idea what is it all about (or what to expect when you decided to get one). ;)

I bought the chipotle peppers from Harris Farm Markets (Orange, NSW).  It comes in can form (sorry for stating the obvious, see above) and it contains several jalapeños soaked in adobo sauce. These jalapeños have already been dried via the smoking process which resulted in the dark, and unique smoky flavour which is usually found in Mexican cuisines.  Based on the ingredient list, the adobo sauce is a tomato based sauce with paprika and other seasonings which also has a hint of smokiness to it.

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{I used Goya brand Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce}

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Whilst they aren’t tougue-numbing-blow-your-head-off spicy, they still need to be handle with care and it is important not to get carried away with the amount. I am not “brave” enough to handle chilli directly, regardless whether they are the spicy kind or not.  So for me, same rule applies to how I handle chipotle peppers. I would use a pair of chopsticks (or fork and spoon) as my “handler” to avoid direct contact.  This is especially important for those who wear contact lenses!

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It’s a well known fact that the seeds will add more spiciness to a dish. If your tolerance towards chillies is low, then I’d suggest you scrape out the seeds.

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Finely chop the chillies before adding to your cooking. Ideally until paste-like.

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So how much is too much?

It depends on how much you cook really.  To give you an idea, based on the ingredients on my recent post on kale and bean chili recipe, you can taste the heat with 2 chipotle chillies (borderline tougue burning for those who have low tolerance with chilli). If you just want purely for flavouring minus the heat, I think half a chipotle chilli is a good start. Work your way up towards the end of cooking if you think can handle more spiciness, like adding salt.

What to do with the remaining chipotle peppers?

As I use it fairly often, and I’m now on to my second can, I keep the leftover in a Pyrex glass container and store it in the fridge.  If your usage is less frequent than mine, this site  provides a very good tip on how you can store it in the freezer using an ice cube tray. A genius idea, I must say!

If you have any questions in relation to this, feel free to post in the comment box below. :)  If you like some inspirations on what you can make with chipotle peppers, do check out the following posts:-

 

This is not a sponsored post.