The Cheese Board

To know me, is to know how much I love cheese. Now I don’t mean your everyday, “I’m going to throw it on a sandwich” cheese. I’m talking about cheese that’s been aged for years and cultivated to perfection.

When it comes to fromage when I’m dining out, I’ve experienced some amazing cheese platters. However, Eataly in NYC and Varga Bar in Philly take the cake. Varga Bar is well known for their great beers and amazing dishes. However, they have an out-of-this-world cheese platter. Each cheese is served with several condiments, ranging from truffle honey to garlic dulce de leche to rootbeer caramel. Combine this with a chunk of Moses Sleeper and fresh baguette- and it’s a match made in heaven. La Piazza at Eataly on the other hand, serves you a platter of cured meats and several different cheeses. Along with almond honey, candied orange peel, and figs- it’s to die for.

When I’m entertaining friends I always make sure to have a great cheese board or delicious crostini. This recipe will give you the best of both worlds. I’ve chosen a few classic cheeses to get your palate warmed up to the beauty of cheese.

There are no rules to creating a cheese board, but I prefer going with a hard cheese, a soft cheese, and a blue cheese. First, I thinly sliced a loaf of ciabatta, this airy bread will give you the perfect size crostini to stack your favorite ingredients on. Next I chose a few cheeses; Roquefort, French Brie, Pecorino Romano, and Goat Gouda. Roquefort for the tangy blue, Brie for the creamy pungent soft cheese, Pecorino for a nice salty bite, and Goat Gouda for a change of pace. Next, I added my favorite cured meat; Prosciutto di Parma, it’s perfectly salty and goes nicely with any of the cheeses. Finally, I sprinkled a few dried figs, pecans, and dried cranberries- these will add the sweet and nutty components to your platter. With all of this potential at hand, the flavor combinations are endless.

The Cheese Board
1 loaf Ciabatta
olive oil
1 chunk Goat Gouda
1 chunk Roquefort
1 chunk Pecorino Romano
1 chunk French Brie
1/4 pound Prosciutto
dried figs
dried cranberries

Preheat your broiler for a few minutes. Thinly slice your loaf of Ciabatta, and drizzle the slices with olive oil. Place the slices onto a baking sheet. Place it under the broiler for one minute per side.
Place the cheeses, nuts, and dried fruit on the board. 


Hanger Steak Sliders

Photograph by Mike Arrison

It’s grilling season ladies & gentlemen- barbecue and an ice cold beverage, what more do you need in life? The first thought that comes to our minds: hamburgers and hotdogs. Heck, they’re practically a staple in American culture. A few years ago, my best friend asked me to make burgers for her Summer birthday bash. I couldn’t resist coming up with something fabulous. 
First, I decided to make them “mini”, by using these beautiful little Brioche buns. Brioche is a sweet egg based bread. I took the average ground beef, and replaced it with hanger steak. Hanger is perfectly marbled and succulent. I ditched the average cheese, and replaced it with a garlic Roquefort sauce. Roquefort is tangy and salty, a perfect balance to the sweet Brioche. Finally, I added watercress- which is peppery and tender.

Hanger Steak Sliders

Yields: 4 Servings

4 ounces Roquefort
1 cup heavy cream
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds Hanger steak
1 cup watercress
12 mini brioche buns
kosher salt
black pepper

Place a small sauce pan over medium heat, add one tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic. Let it cook for one minute, and then add the heavy cream and let it simmer for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your grill at medium heat. Take your steak and pat it dry with a paper towel. Rub it with the other tablespoon of olive oil and liberally season it with salt and pepper. Throw your steak on the grill for 12 minutes or until it feels as if it’s medium. Pull your steak off of the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes.
At this point the cream should be at half volume, turn off the heat. Crumble the Roquefort into it, and stir until it is melted. Season the sauce with salt and pepper (to taste). 
Place your rested steak onto the buns, drizzle with the garlic bleu cheese sauce, place some watercress and then finally place the top bun.