(In a whisper)
Fiore Sardo, Fried Halloumi, Goat Gouda
Whole Wheat Crackers, Fig Preserves, Warm Marcona Almonds
Tomato and Mushroom Soup with Parmigiano-Reggiano Curls
Butternut Squash, Kale, and Taleggio Galette
Roast Vegetable Galette with a Cheddar Crust
Beets with Orange and Goat Cheese
Ricotta and Cream Cheese Cheesecake
Strawberries with Mascarpone Whipped Cream
The theme I picked for my November dinner was cheese. Cheese goes with everything (Some would say, not fish, but I would argue with that.), cheese can easily navigate from savory to sweet, and there is such an interesting variety to explore.
The dinner is titled “Say Cheese (In a whisper)” because I did not want it to be a heavy dinner. I just wanted there to be hints of cheese in most dishes. That said, there was more than a hint in the appetizer, which was a cheeseboard and one of the desserts, which was a cheesecake.
To make it more interesting, the cheeseboard featured cheeses that are unfamiliar to me. There was fiore sardo ( a sheep's milk cheese from the island of Sardinia, Italy), goat gouda (from the Netherlands), and fried halloumi (made of a mix of goat and sheep’s milks from Cyprus). Fig preserves, Marcona almonds lightly sautéed in olive oil, and whole wheat crackers accompanied the cheeses.
For the soup, There was a tomato/mushroom combination on oprah.com that sounded just right. The only change I made was to substitute Parmigiano-Reggiano curls for the goat cheese.
The recipe can be accessed here:
For the main course, I decided to make two galettes. There is an article on the website Food 52 entitled “How to Make Any Savory Galette without a Recipe.” I followed the instructions to make two doughs, adding 4 oz. of grated cheddar to one of the doughs.
I wanted to make the fillings very different from each other. I decided on roasted fingerling potatoes and tomatoes and shallots for the one with the cheesy crust. For the other, I chose kale, roasted butternut squash, and tallegio cheese.
Now I needed something fresh-tasting and cool to serve alongside the galettes. I grated some beets, mixed them with dried cranberries and chopped orange sections, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I stuffed portions into small ramekins. To stay true to the theme, I needed a cheese garnish. So, I formed small balls out of goat cheese mixed with a little orange juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. When serving, I inverted each ramekin over a salad plate, put a flattened cheese ball on top, and sprinkled orange zest over all.
Dessert was a ricotta-based cheesecake from the Food Network’s Giada de Laurentiis. It was delicious. Here’s the recipe:
The cake was accompanied by strawberries stuffed with mascarpone cheese. To make the filling, I beat 1/2 cup of mascarpone with 1/4 cup of heavy cream. To prepare the strawberries, I cut the stem part evenly off the strawberries to make them sit straight, pointy side up. Then, I sliced crosswise down, across the point, stopping just short of the end of each strawberry. I filled a baggie with the creamy mascarpone. I cut off a corner of the baggie and piped the mixture into the strawberries. It was not easy to do that and it came out looking a little messy. I think that next time I would cut the strawberries horizontally and make an Oreo-like mascarpone-stuffed strawberry sandwich instead.
For a take-home favor, guests were given homemade rugelach, whose dough was made with neufchatel cheese.