Tag Archive for canadian cheese

Christmas Eve Fondue

I’m sure all of you have your own family-centric holiday traditions. Well, one of mine is a Christmas Eve fondue. I do love to fondue… I mean, c’mon, what’s not to like? Lovely, soft pieces of bread, dipped into warm, gooey cheese. You really can’t go wrong. Just add a glass of wine and The Grinch (classic animated version, please!) for me, and hot chocolate and Charlie Brown Christmas for the sprout, and you have a perfect Christmas Eve.

Last year's Christmas Eve fondue.

Last year’s Christmas Eve fondue. Don’t you love my “vintage” 1970’s fondue pot?

We usually wrap up the evening with a chocolate fondue. Because, really, the only thing that can make a fondue better is another fondue. Made of chocolate.

This year’s recipe comes from Chef David Robertson, owner of The Dirty Apron. You’ll remember I just got his cookbook recently. This recipe, however, is not in the Dirty Apron Cookbook. He developed this one in association with Jackson-Triggs, and the recommended pairing with this fondue is the 2010 Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Valley ENTOURAGE Grand Reserve Sparkling Brut. Could you serve Prosecco with it? For sure. But the JT is a more local choice. By the way, if you have any left over (HA!!) you can make this sparkling cocktail to have with your Christmas Brunch tomorrow.

Speaking of local choices, I’d use the Cows Applewood Smoked Cheddar from PEI to make this (Whole Foods). It’s my absolute favourite.

Happy Christmas Eve! Cuddle up with some cheese and wine and The Grinch, and relax.

Applewood Smoked Cheddar & Mascarpone Fondue

Ingredients:

  • 1⁄2 lb Apple-Wood Smoked Cheddar, shredded
  • 1⁄2 lb Mascarpone
  • 1 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1 Garlic Clove, peeled
  • 1 c Dry White Wine
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp Calvados
  • 1⁄2 tsp Dry Mustard
  • 1 pinch Nutmeg

Method:

  1. In a small bowl, coat the applewood smoked cheddar with cornstarch and set aside. Rub the inside of a ceramic fondue pot with garlic, then discard.
  2. Over medium heat, add the wine and lemon juice into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Gradually stir both cheeses into the simmering liquid, melting it until smooth in consistency. Once smooth, stir in the calvados, mustard and nutmeg.
  3. Arrange an assortment of bite-sized dipping foods, such as pieces of French and sourdough breads or blanched vegetables like carrots and asparagus on to a plate. Spear the pieces with fondue forks or wooden skewers, dip and enjoy.

How to Build a Cheese Board

The most-entertained weekend of the year is upon us. Chances are, if you are going to a Christmas party, you’re going to one this weekend.

My dear friend Bronwen holds an annual party this weekend every year, and the party is themed around cheese and her husband’s birthday. The centrepiece of the party is a phyllo-wrapped brie. It’s 7 different kinds of amazing.

Entertaining with cheese is a great option. First off, there’s no cooking–you just buy what you need, and make it look pretty on the plate. Secondly, who doesn’t like cheese? Thirdly, cheese pairs well with wine. ‘Nuff said!

how to build a cheese board

With a bit of know-how, you can look like a cheese-plate rock star, so here are some things to keep in mind when building your board.

How to Build a Cheese Board

Start with 3-4 cheeses, but make sure they have varying textures. I like to put out:

  • something soft and creamy, like a brie
  • something of medium firmness, like a gouda
  • something firm and familiar, like an aged cheddar
  • something hard and ripened, like a parmesan
  • OR something a little exotic, like a blue

Cheese “vehicles”: thinly-sliced baguette is the most obvious choice.  You want at least one kind of bread or cracker that is quite neutral, so you can get the essence of the cheese. I also like to serve some crackers. One of my faves right now is a rosemary-infused one, but I also really love fruit crisps (Lesley Stowe makes them and Terra Breads also does a nice one), and I like to include some gluten-free ones (Mary’s) as well.

Fruit: grapes are the most popular choice, but you could also go with thinly-sliced apples ore pears. You could even go with dried fruit here: apricots, figs or dates.

Nuts: nuts add a nice textural component to your plate. They add crunch. I’d do candied walnuts, pecans or almonds.

Condiments: it’s fun to add accents to your cheese and experiment with different flavour combos. So, to enhance your cheese board, include little pots of mustards, chutneys or jams. My favourite thing right now is brie with my garlic scape jam. Jalapeño jelly is also a wonderful pairing.

How much to buy: 3 pounds (total) for 8 people, 6 pounds (total) for 16, or 9 pounds (total) for 24. (Source)

how to build a cheese board

Suggestions: over the last 3 months, I’ve had the opportunity to sample a lot of Canadian Cheese. Here are my favourites:

Soft and creamy: Comox Camembert from Natural Pastures in Comox. I love to support local, and this beautiful, soft cheese from the Island is about as local as it gets!

Medium: Love the smoked gouda (or in fact, any kind of gouda–it’s gouda!) from Glasgow Glen Farm in PEI.

Cheddar: I love every single cheese I’ve ever had from Cows and Avonlea our of PEI. Cows does an amazing Applewood Smoked Cheddar that I dream about, and the Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar is nutty and crumbly. Natural Pastures Aged Farmhouse was also a favourite.

Firm: Mountain Oak Farmstead Premium Dutch, and Nostrala from Kootenay Alpine Cheese co.

Blue: I know some people think blue cheese is weird. That it tastes like feet. But I love it, especially with a big, bold red wine. My favourite blue, however, is a French cheese, not a Canadian one. It’s called St. Agur, and it’s the like the bastard love child of blue cheese and brie. It’s a delicious combination.

By the way, you can have the opportunity to win my exact December cheese basket by creating a “Cheese Board” on Pinterest, and pinning 10 photos of Canadian Cheese onto it. Details are here.

Happy Cheesing!

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