10 Irresistible Appetizers

What’s the best part of any party? Of any meal? Of any day?? That’s right, it’s the appetizers. These small bites are packed with powerful flavors and satisfying textures. They’re the perfect way to kick off a meal, but we’ll admit that we’ve filled up on tasty starters more than once. 

Whether you’re planning a game day gathering or a snack-filled movie night, these irresistible appetizers will get the party going.

Game Day Snacks & Appetizers

Deviled eggs are the perfect pre-dinner snack. They’re creamy, savory and packed with protein. Try our recipes for classic,  buffalo, and everything bagel-inspired deviled eggs. 

These irresistibly cheesy rolls are made from pizza dough stuffed with bites of mozzarella—baked until deliciously warm and melted, then tossed in a spicy Calabrian chile butter and garnished with parsley and parmesan.

Create an at-home version of a a classic finger food by filling jalapeños with cream cheese and cheddar. The cheese naturally helps temper the spice of the pepper. 

Smashed avocado combined with sour cream create the base for this creamy, satisfying dip. Lime and juice and hot pepper add a bit of a zing. Serve alongside vegetables and tortilla chips. 

Crispy gnocchi topped with garlic and Parmesan are a satisfying chewy snack. We’re dipping ours in a side of tomato sauce mixed with Calabrian chile paste for a kick of heat.

This irresistible dip combines sour cream and parmesan cheese with aromatic scallions and balsamic-marinated onions for deliciously tangy flavor.

These petite chicken sliders get their irresistibly sweet, tangy, and savory flavors from a few special toppings: crispy shallots, crunchy pickles, and creamy mayo. 

These chicken wings get the star treatment from a double coating of our spicy-sweet sauce, made from thick soy sauce and sambal oelek, an Indonesian chile paste

Celebrate the flavors of Korean barbecue with this dish, which takes tasty roasted chicken wings and adds a sweet and savory glaze.

Get chef-designed appetizers delivered to your door with Blue Apron Add-ons.

How to Make the Perfect Cheese Board

Creamy brie, salty gouda, and funky blue cheese make a balanced board.

Nothing gets a party going like a cheese board: it breaks the ice, provides a place to congregate, and gets the people snacking. While no one will turn her nose up at a box of crackers and block of extra sharp cheddar, a truly next-level cheeseboard is both impressive and easy to put together—so long as you’ve got a game plan. Read on for our guidelines and a few pro tips.

The Best Cheese for a Cheese Board

The cheese is the reason we’re all here, but the best advice is to keep it simple. Odd numbers tend to look best on a board, so pick three delicious, interesting, eclectic cheeses. Age, texture, and origin are they key factors to consider: one creamy, one crumbly, and one funky cheese is a good place to start.

cut cheese board

PRO TIP: Cut small pieces or slices into your cheese before you put the board out for guests; this is a great way to suggest a serving size, create motion in your presentation, and make people feel comfortable to dive right in. No “first person to cut into the cheese” jitters.

What is a Charcuterie Board

Charcuterie is the French word to describe cured and cooked meats like pâté, bacon, and cured salami. Incorporating some charcuterie into your cheese board, or building a separate charcuterie board with an array of cured meats, will add luxurious flavor and texture to your spread. Try visiting a local butcher to what’s in stock. Freshly shaved prosciutto and whole dried sausages will beat the precut stuff at the supermarket any day.

Picking Meats for a Charcuterie Board

Balance is key when it comes to the carnivore-friendly part of your cheese board. Texture and flavor are the most important variables: try pairing delicate prosciutto (a fan favorite) with one hard, cured salame (such as chorizo) and one soft salame (like soppressata). Avoid overkill on salt or spice. If you’ve loaded up on powerful flavors, add a slice of pâté or terrine to provide a mild foil for them.

PRO TIP: Lili Dagan, Culinary Manager, is the resident cheese board expert in the Test Kitchen after years perfecting the craft while working in events. Her signature move? A meat river. Fanning out delicately rumpled prosciutto or slices of salami into a ribbon that travels from one end of the board to the other makes the arrangement feel ample and deliberate.

cheese board with prosciutto

Other Additions to a Cheese & Charcuterie Board

A cheese board goes from good to great with the addition of a few *extras* — some crunchy, tender, sweet, and pickly bits to cut through the salt and fat of the main event. Little bowls of one-biters like roasted nuts or olives, provide necessary textural contrast. Briny bites like a cornichons or gherkins refresh your palate. Finish things off with a few condiments. Grainy mustard, honey, and jam all adds a spreadable or drizzly pop of flavor. The sweet and salty contrast of jam or honey will work will with almost any cheese.

Best Crackers for Cheese

PRO TIP: Don’t forget the carbs. Your cheeses and spreads will be SO lonely without something to put them on. Simple crackers will do the trick, providing a dependable base without overpowering any exciting flavors. For a gourmet touch, try this: thinly slice a baguette, brush it with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and toast in a 400ºF oven for 15-20 minutes, flipping once.

cheese board with fruit

Charcuterie & Cheese Board Tips

Fruit is your friend! Celebrate the time of year by adding some seasonal produce to your board. Concord grapes and stone fruit in the summer or citrus and pears in the winter add color, freshness, and a welcome respite from cheese.

PRO TIP: Temperature matters. Take your cheese out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour before you plan to serve it, to come to room temperature. A cheese’s flavor, smell, and texture changes in the cold (and not in a good way), and you want those wedges and wheels to shine!


cheese board with meat and wine

Charcuterie & Cheese Board Pairings

Cheese’s best friend? Wine, of course. Check out the Blue Apron collection of food-friendly white wines, six wines to pair with your festive holiday cheese board.

Make Your Own Ranch Dressing

Ranch dressing can be controversial. Some people love it on French fries and pizza, while others take offense if it’s more than 6 inches away from a salad. We’re not here to make rules about how you enjoy your ranch, we just want to provide the best homemade ranch dressing recipe possible.

homemade ranch dressing on pizza
When you make your own ranch dressing, you can make your own rules

Sure, the bottled stuff will do in a pinch, but this at-home version provides more flavor and flexibility. Our recipe uses a combination of buttermilk, mayonnaise, and sour cream to create a balance of creaminess and tang. This recipe makes a large batch. Just store it in the fridge in an airtight jar, and keep for up to a week. It won’t be hard to use all of it, ranch is delicious on top of pretty much anything. 

Homemade ranch dressing recipe

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Ingredients, assembled

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, sour cream, and mayo. Mix in parsley, chives, dill, lemon juice, mustard, onion powder, salt, and black pepper. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least one hour before using. Serve on salads, alongside vegetable platters, or however you see fit. Homemade ranch dressing will keep up to one week in the refrigerator in an airtight jar. 

Classic Deviled Egg Recipe & 3 Fun Variations

A lot of things will have to change about the holidays this year, but there’s no way we’re giving up appetizers. So what if holiday happy hours are now just you, your roommate, and your dog? Frankly that just makes good food seem more important. Enter this classic deviled egg recipe. 

classic deviled eggs

Deviled eggs are the perfect pre-dinner snack. They’re creamy, savory and packed with protein. Their simplicity makes them feel like a relief during a season of complex baked goods and elaborate mains. You probably even have all the ingredients right now. We started with a base recipe for classic deviled eggs and then tried out a few fanciful variations. 

Basic Deviled Egg Recipe:  

  • 12 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Up to 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chives, thinly sliced 
  • A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or hot paprika
  • Finishing salt
  1. Fill a large saucepan with salted water and bring to a boil on high. Prepare an ice bath. Carefully lower the eggs into the water, one by one. Reduce the heat to a low boil and cook for 10 minutes. Immediately place eggs in the ice bath and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before peeling under cool running water. Slice each egg in half lengthwise.
  1. Place all yolks in the bowl of a food processor. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, 1/2 tablespoon vinegar, and hot sauce to the food processor. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  1. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Season mixture to taste with salt and remaining vinegar (if desired). Transfer to a zipper-lock bag. 
  1. Cut off a corner of the zip-top bag. Now you can use the bag to pipe the filling mixture into the centaur of the egg whites. Sprinkle with black pepper, chives, crushed red pepper or paprika, and sea salt. Serve immediately.

Note: Filling and egg white halves can be stored separately in the refrigerator up to 8 hours before eggs are filled and served.

Buffalo Deviled Eggs

Stir Buffalo hot sauce and blue cheese into the base filling. Garnish with a celery leaf and a bit of blue cheese.

buffalo deviled egg

Carbonara-inspired Deviled Eggs

Bring in the flavors of carbonara by adding parmesan and black better to the base filling recipe. Garnish with crispy pancetta and parsley.

carbonara deviled egg variation

Everything Bagel Deviled Eggs

Mix in cream cheese and everything seasoning into the base filling recipe. Garnish with more seasoning and a sliver of smoked salmon.

everything bagel deviled egg variation

Now that you have your snack, pick a drink recipe to round out happy hour.

Smoky Carrot Hummus with Pistachio Dukkah

An autumnal take on classic hummus — with a punchy orange color to boot. This dip gets its smoky flavor from smoked paprika and the roasty bits of carrot, which also add a layer of deep, root vegetable-y sweetness. We like to serve ours topped with a generous sprinkling of dukkah, a savory toasted blend of nuts, seeds, and spices. If you don’t have a spice mill, don’t worry: after toasting your nuts and seeds mixture in a dry pan, place it in a sealable plastic bag before smashing it with the bottom of a pot or heavy cup measure to create small, crumbly pieces, ideal for garnishing your hummus — or serving alongside crusty bread and olive oil for dipping.

Makes about 2 cups


Ingredients

1 lb. carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise, then cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, divided
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
2 tsp cumin seed
2 tsp coriander seed
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 15-.5-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1/2 cup tahini
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flaky salt
Crudite, for serving (we like purple cauliflower, Persian cucumbers, radishes, and endive)

Method
  1. Roast the carrots:
    Place an oven rack in the center of the oven, then preheat to 450°F. Place the carrot pieces on a sheet pan; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, the ground cumin, and 1 teaspoon of the smoked paprika. Toss to coat and arrange in an even layer. Roast 18 to 20 minutes, or until browned and tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven.

  2. Make the dukkah:
    While the carrots roast, heat a dry pan over medium heat until hot. Add the pistachios, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and sesame seeds. Toast, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Transfer to a bowl to let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, transfer to a sealable plastic bag (or spice mill, if you have one). Smash with the bottom of a pot of heavy cup measure (or pulse in the spice mill) to break into small pieces. Return to the bowl. Stir in the ground ginger and crushed red pepper flakes; season with flaky salt and pepper.

  3. Make the hummus:
    In a food processor, combine the roasted carrots, chickpeas, garlic clove, tahini, sherry vinegar, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper. Pulse to blend until smooth.

  4. Assemble & serve your dish:
    Transfer the hummus to a serving bowl; drizzle with olive oil and garnish with the dukkah. Serve the finished hummus with the crudite. Enjoy!

Get to Know Shishitos

This tender, smoky pepper is a restaurant favorite — here’s how to use it at home.

The good kind of summertime blister.

Shishito peppers are having a moment, and not just because they’re currently in season. In recent years, the vibrantly green and slightly smoky Japanese chiles — shaped a bit like wrinkled fingers — have become a late summer and early fall staple on restaurant menus across the country. It’s for good reason: they’re delicious, super snackable, and, despite their fancy appearance when blistered and sprinkled with flaky salt, incredibly easy to prepare.

Luckily for home cooks, more time in the restaurant spotlight has increased demand for shishitos at grocery stores and farmers’ markets alike. These days, you can find them anywhere top-notch produce is sold. Make shishitos part of your seasonal home cooking repertoire with these tips and tricks:

  1. Easy prep. Leave those ribs and seeds alone! Shishitos can be eaten whole, so all you have to do is cut off the stem — unless you serve them as finger food, where the stem can act as a nifty handle. Each pepper contains a lot of seeds (more than you might expect), but they’re totally edible and don’t need to be removed.
  2. Spice roulette. While most shishito peppers are mild, about 1 in 10 is spicy. The occasional hot one is the result of over-exposure to the sun. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you’re a thrill seeker) there are no visual cues for spiciness; while the peppers turn red as they ripen, that’s not indicative of flavor, so bite carefully!
  3. Char master. Shishitos are easy to sub in wherever you’d use mini sweets or other small, mild peppers in your cooking, but they shine brightest when given undisturbed time in the pan to char, drawing out their smoky flavor. Leave them whole or cut them crosswise into smaller pieces, then add to a pan with a bit of hot oil; cook for at least 2 to 3 minutes before stirring or adding any additional ingredients

Ready to get cooking? Try one of these recipes, featuring some of our favorite uses for shishito peppers, tonight.

As a smoky pop of color in a homey pasta dish:
Pork Ragu & Fresh Basil Fettucine with Shishito Peppers

As a playful side with a bright and punchy topping:
Spanish-Spiced Burgers with Charred Shishito Peppers & Lime Salt

As a play on the vegetarian pizza parlor classic:
Shishito Pepper & Onion Pizza with Creamy Tomato Sauce

Greenmarket Inspo: Cauliflower Steaks with Chermoula

Every week, our test kitchen team pays an early morning visit to New York City’s biggest farmers market: the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan. Comprised of over 70 stalls bursting with flowers, local products, and beautiful seasonal produce, it’s the perfect place for a hit of mid-week inspiration. Follow us on Instagram to tag along (bring a tote bag, it’s impossible to leave empty handed!) and see what we decide to make with our market haul.

Nearly every global cuisine has its own herb-based sauce, from salsa verde and chimichurri to pesto and zhoug. In North Africa, the green condiment of choice is chermoula, a version spiced with cumin and coriander and often blended with raisins for sweetness. Used as a marinade or topping for meat, seafood, and vegetables alike, the recipe varies region to region and can easily be adapted to include what you have on hand. Ours packs a bright and herby punch from the combination of parsley and mint, but if cilantro looks especially good at a market near you, it makes a welcome addition (as does chili paste or pepper flakes for heat, whole slices of preserved lemon, or even a pinch of saffron — up to you!). 

If you’ve never made a cauliflower steak before — we love them on Blue Apron’s vegetarian menu — consider it on your to-do list. Keeping the core intact allows you to slice the head into 1-inch-thick slabs that stay together, for the most part, which makes them suitable as a side dish or vegetarian main. More flat surface area (as opposed to the curved shape of a floret) means a cauliflower steak has more direct contact with the sheet pan while roasting; the result is a browned and caramelized exterior with crispy edges, but tender and delicate interior. Drizzled with chermoula, it’s simple, flavorful, and likely the star of your table.

Cauliflower Steaks with Chermoula

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 large cauliflower, leaves removed, cut into 1-inch thick steaks (keeping them as intact as possible)
2 cups parsley leaves and tender stems
½ cup mint leaves
2 tbsp golden raisins
2 tsp ground cumin, divided
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp hot paprika 
1 clove garlic
1 lemon, quartered and deseeded
¼ cup almonds
¼ cup castelvetrano olives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Method

1. Roast the cauliflower:

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven, then preheat to 450°F. Place the cauliflower on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and 1 ½ teaspoons of cumin. Carefully turn to coat and arrange in an even layer. Roast 26 to 28 minutes, or until browned and tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven. 

2. Rehydrate the raisins:

While the cauliflower roasts, in a bowl, combine the raisins and the juice of 2 lemon wedges. Set aside to rehydrate, at least 10 minutes.

3. Toast the almonds:

While the raisins rehydrate, heat a dry pan over medium until hot. Add the almonds. Toast, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer to a bowl.

4. Make the chermoula & serve your dish:
While the cauliflower continues to roast, in a blender or food processor, combine the rehydrated raisins (and any lemon juice), parsley, mint, coriander, paprika, garlic, ½ cup olive oil, and remaining ½ teaspoon cumin. Season with pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. Blend until mostly smooth (some chunks are ok). Serve the roasted cauliflower topped with the chermoula. Enjoy!

Greenmarket Inspo: Sweet Pepper Confit Toasts

Every week, our test kitchen team pays an early morning visit to New York City’s biggest farmers market: the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan. Comprised of over 70 stalls bursting with flowers, local products, and beautiful seasonal produce, it’s the perfect place for a hit of mid-week inspiration. Follow us on Instagram to tag along (bring a tote bag, it’s impossible to leave empty handed!) and see what we decide to make with our market haul.

Cooked in oil until soft, then flavored with an agrodolce (aka sweet and sour) pairing of honey and sherry vinegar, these peppers are ideal on slices of bread for a simple summer appetizer. If you’re not in the mood for toast, skip the baguette; the confited peppers can be stirred into a room temperature pasta salad for a picnic or piled atop grilled steak or chicken for company.

Sweet Pepper Confit Toasts

Sweet pepper confit toasts

Makes about 15 toasts

Ingredients

¾ lb mini sweet peppers, cored and cut lengthwise into ½-inch strips
1 shallot, halved and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 baguette, thinly sliced on an angle
1 small bunch basil
Flaky sea salt, for serving

Method

1. Cook the vegetables:

In a small pot, combine the sliced peppers, sliced shallot, and 1 clove of garlic, finely grated. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add ⅓ cup olive oil; stir to combine. Heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the vinegar and honey; cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until combined. Turn off the heat.

2. Toast the baguette:

While the vegetables cook, halve 1 clove of garlic crosswise. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven, then set the broiler to high. Place the baguette slices on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper; turn to coat. Arrange in an even layer. Toast in the oven, flipping halfway through, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Rub each toasted slice with the cut side of the garlic clove.

3. Assemble the dish:

Assemble each toast using the toasted baguette, cooked vegetables, and basil, tearing or thinly slicing just before adding. Season with flaky salt and pepper. Enjoy!

HOT TIP: Save the leftover oil from the bottom of the pot after you assemble the toasts; it’s a little garlicky, a little sweet, a little bright — ideal for use in a salad dressing!

Easy Cheesy

Our guide to pairing wine and cheese quickly, simply and deliciously. 

Spread_June-Wine-Booklet_WINE_00164_full_CMYK

The best thing about pairing wine and cheese: There are no wrong decisions, only better ones.

Sure, a bold Cabernet Sauvignon and a light, zesty goat cheese may not be the “correct” pairing, but it’ll taste pretty good. After all, you’re still marrying two of the most delightful indulgences, wine and cheese. Why overcomplicate things? Because if you take just a little time to look at why certain wines and cheeses match so well, you’ll discover pairings that aren’t simply good but truly perfect.

Epicurean beauty really is more than rind-deep.

Cheese: Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog
Wine: Sauvignon Blanc
This slightly aged goat cheese with a creamy edge is delightfully tangy. The classic pairing with really any goat cheese is Sauvignon Blanc, since the wine’s bright acidity matches up with the cheese’s tanginess and makes it taste creamier. Also, this is a “what grows together goes together” pairing: France’s Loire Valley is a hub for both goat cheese and Sauvignon Blanc production.

Cheese: Jasper Hill Farm Cabot Clothbound Cheddar
Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet is classically paired with cheddar because the wine’s fruitiness complements the cheese’s sharp tang and nuttiness. The wine and cheese also have similar weight, or body—one doesn’t overpower the other. Cabot Clothbound also has a slight sweetness that marries perfectly with fruity Cabernet.

Cheese: Vermont Creamery Bonne Bouche
Wine: Rosé
Did we say something about Sauvignon Blanc being the classic pairing for goat cheese? It’s certainly a safe bet, but Bonne Bouche is creamier and oozier than most goat cheeses. That extra heartiness and its breadlike, yeasty flavor and aroma make rosé a better choice. The wine has the fruitiness to complement the flavors of the cheese, and the weight to stand up to it.

Cheese: Spring Brook Farm Reading
Wine: Oaked Chardonnay
This cheese is an American take on raclette, typically melted and served with potatoes, pickles and cured meats. Spring Brook’s version is richer, nuttier and earthier than Swiss raclette, so while you certainly can melt this one, it’s delicious as is and served with Chardonnay. The wine’s fuller body will match the weight of the cheese, and the oaky, vanilla flavor of the wine will complement its nuttiness.

Cheese: La Tur
Wine: Sparkling
La Tur is a dense, creamy trifecta of cow, goat and sheep milk. It has a little bit of everything, from tanginess to oozy richness to a slightly earthy flavor, all of it working harmoniously in each bite. La Tur is sublime with a dry, crisp sparkling wine such as Prosecco, which cuts through the cheese’s richness while accentuating the cheese’s tanginess—and doesn’t overpower its complex flavors.

Sign up for Blue Apron Wine and save on your first order! Click here.

Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce

Pretzels: not just from a packet, not just as a bun, not just from New York City street vendors. Now you can make your own homemade soft pretzel (bites). And dip them in cheese sauce.
Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce

Soft pretzel dough is much easier than you would think t0 make. It’s a soft yeast dough that has a bit of sweetness in it from sugar, and it’s actually quite similar to the dough you’d use for bagels.

Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese SaucePretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce

Though the dough is soft, with some extra flour on the counter, you won’t have too much trouble kneading it until it’s very smooth. Then, you’ll let it rise in a warm, dark spot in your kitchen.Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce

And then, you make pretzels. Since these are just pretzel bites, you don’t have to worry about twisting the dough into pretzel-shaped knots. Rather, after rolling the dough into ropes, you cut it into bite-sized nuggets.

Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese SaucePretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce

Here’s probably the most important (but still not hard!) part of making these pretzel bites. You boil them in baking soda-spiked boiling water, a step that gives the pretzels their signature pretzel-y taste.

Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce

Finally, after that, you bake the pretzels. You can do the whole batch ahead of time, then reheat them in smaller portions when you’re ready to eat (that makes them a  good office snack, even).

And of course, there’s also the cheese sauce. Once you learn to make cheese sauce, you’ll find you’ll want to dip everything in it–not just pretzels.

Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce

Simply make a roux from butter, flour, and milk, then add cheese, hot sauce, and cayenne.

Making Cheese Sauce for Hot Pretzels

And: time to go for the dip!

Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce

Get the full recipe below.

Continue reading “Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce”

The Cooking-Required Cheese Plate

Cheese Plate 7

One of the merits of pulling together a cheese plate for any and all hosting occasions is that you immediately reduce your workload. Instead of cooking prowess, cheese plate-making calls upon skills like chatting up your cheesemonger to get a great recommendation and artistically arranging cheese wedges and rounds, crackers, fruit, and knives on a board. This is well and good.

But what if you do want to cook? What if you’re contributing the cheese plate or hosting a cocktail gathering at which everything is already quite simple? Well, for you, we’ve got a prescription for the cooking-required cheese plate. These are three recipes that, while, simple, also take your creative instincts and harness them to craft a great spread.

Up above, you can see the regular cheese plate. There’s a hunk of Parmesan and a wedge of Manchego. We’ve got a bowl of fresh ricotta, plenty of pita chips for dipping, and dates for some complementary sweetness.

Now, let the tweaking begin. Here are three ways to transform those cheeses into somethign more.

Cheese Plate 6

1. Braided Cheese Straws:

Defrost a box of puff pastry. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl whisk together 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon of milk. Lay 1 sheet of the defrosted pastry out on a work surface, brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with 2 cups of grated Parmesan cheese; season with a little salt and pepper. Brush the other defrosted sheet with egg wash and lay it on top of the layer of Parmesan. Cut into 1-inch strips lengthwise, place on a baking sheet and twist each strip slightly. Bake for 15 minutes, until puffy and golden.  Enjoy!

2. Manchego & Marcona Stuffed Dates:

Fill pitted dates with a small piece of manchego and a marcona almond. Arrange artfully and enjoy!

3. Ricotta, Honey & Sea Salt Crostini:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut a baguette into thin rounds; toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and toast in the oven, 10 minutes, or until toasty and golen. Top each round with a tablespoon of ricotta; drizzle with honey and sprinkle with sea salt. Enjoy!

And here it is, the totally transformed cheese plate:

Cheese Plate 1