No cheese week would be complete without a trip to Cowgirl Creamery. Located in a charming old barn in the quaint California coastal town of Pt. Reyes Station, Cowgirl Creamery boasts a collection of my alltime favorite cheeses. Needless to say, Erica and I jumped at the chance to go take a peek (and a taste) behind the scenes. While most of the cheese production has been relocated just up the highway to their Petaluma creamery, the barn at Pt. Reyes station is still the home of their famous Red Hawk – a heavenly triple cream that simply couldn’t be made anywhere else. The wild bacteria that give the Red Hawk its unique character are native to Pt. Reyes! Cheese makers need only open the windows. How cool is that?! Of course we made sure to pickup some Red Hawk, and a variety of other cheeses (Fromage Blanc, Wagon Wheel, and the seasonal Chimney Rock) and had ourselves a picnic. I highly recommend you do the same.
Making your own flatbread crackers is so simple and I love the idea that you can create your own flavor combinations. This recipe is a basic creme fraiche flatbread cracker and I’ve made two variations: thyme and cracked black pepper and simple chives. The two have such great flavor but I think the thyme and black pepper was my favorite. You could use any herb or spice you like such as rosemary or sesame or fennel seeds– the whole point is to get creative and add a homemade touch to your cheese platter!
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the rack positioned in the middle. Combine the flour, olive oil, creme fraiche and salt in a food processor. Run the food processor for a minute while adding 2 to 3 tablespoons one tablespoon at a time until the dough is moist. The dough should look like little tiny pebbles. Add the thyme and cracked black pepper (or the chives) and pulse to combine and dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gather the dough and lightly knead into a ball.
Los Angeles may be sweltering in 90 degree weather right now but October signals the beginning of the holiday season– the season of entertaining! To me a cheese platter is essential to any dinner party– it is great help when you’re already busy cooking dinner. But, your cheese spread does not have to be boring and, in fact, can be a shining centerpiece of your party.
I styled a bit of a different look with this cheese platter by placing clusters of ingredients on the board. I love the messy and crowded look.
Man, I love apples. But my obsession with this pomaceous fruit cultivated only a few years ago, while I was living in New York City. I’ll never forget that crisp fall day when I stumbled across an overwhelming variety of apples from regional farms. They were ugly and I hardly recognized any – where were the Red Delicious or the Fuji apples I was so accustomed to? Oh, there was so much to learn. From tart Winesaps (my favorite) to sweet Ginger Golds to crunchy Staymans, apples were redefined and quickly became my new favorite fruit. This Belle de Boskoop apple and quince tart, by Bojon Gourmet, is the perfect example of why an apple isn’t just an apple . . .
By now you’re probably sick of hearing me boast about how magical shrubs are. I apologize, it’s just that when I start talking drinks I tend to go a bit overboard. Guilty as charged. While I won’t go into all the reasons why I’m in love with this beautiful elixir (we’d be here all day) I would like to highlight just one: cocktails. Shrubs are the perfect cocktail ingredient – sweet, tart, bold, delicate, complex, fruity . . . ok, ok, you get the idea. They’re just begging to be stirred and strained. Today I mixed you up something special to put that apple shrub to good use. The acid in the shrub plays nicely off the sweetest of the applejack and the nocino, not to mention keeps you coming back for more. And we both know there’s nothing wrong with that!
Autumn has arrived, and I couldn’t be more excited. Like many food and drink bloggers, my enthusiasm for the seasons often revolves around the abundance of fresh fruits and veggies. In the case of fall it’s apples . . . always apples. Apple pie, apple slaw, apple cider, and of course this apple shrub!! This stuff is magical I tell you. I can’t wait to use it in a cocktail!!
You’re welcome to use your favorite type of apple for this recipe. Just keep in mind that the sweetness of apples can vary quite a bit. I chose fuji, as I feel they are fairly balanced between tart and sweet. The standard shrub ratio is equal parts fruit, sugar, and vinegar. However, if you happen to choose a sweet variety of apple, maybe try cutting back the sugar a bit. Likewise, if your apples are extra tart, try increasing the sugar. As I always say, feel free to adjust your to suit your taste.