It was Heather’s birthday this week and I wanted to make dinner for her. Because I love her. And because I like making delicious food. Stacey also joined us for an evening of mushrooms, cheese and lots of wine.
This is Heather! She’s holding one of the gifts I got for her, a product called Spiced Beer Jelly. I bought it on Fab.com and it came in a two pack along with a jar of strawberry balsamic jelly (which we also tried that night). The Spiced Beer Jelly definitely had hints of apple along with cardamon in the background (two of the ingredients used in the making of it). It was a little liquidy, but the flavor was quite nice. It didn’t especially taste like beer to me, more like apples and spices. We liked eating it with our cheeses!
At first I started to layer the caprese out all pretty and exact-like, then I said “f#@$ it!” and just kind of scattered it all on the plate. I used those sweet little yellow tomatoes along with some fresh mozzarella cheese (both from Fresh & Easy) along with some fresh basil from the garden. I sprinkled this with olive oil and a new tropical sea salt I just bought and it really brought out the fresh flavors from the cheese and tomatoes.
In addition to the caprese, we also had a cheese and fruit plate. From the bottom (left to right): Clawson Blue Stilton, Chevrai Goat Cheese, Smith’s Farmstead Sharp Cheddar and Kerrygold Skellig Sweet Cheddar
The blue stilton is a creamy, rich blue cheese. I really liked this one. Some blue cheeses are almost too strong to eat, but this one had a nice balance. It had that pungency that blue cheese has but it was also creamy and not overpowering. I really liked eating this one with a drizzle of honey or with some of the sweet strawberry balsamic jam.
I meant to roll the goat cheese in fresh herbs or something, but I got lazy and ran out of time. I picked this one up since it doesn’t hurt Stacey as much (she’s allergic to milk – yes, she still eats cheese and dairy products). Nice and extra creamy, this goat cheese was a bit mild and paired well with everything. Especially the grapes!
The Smith’s Farmstead Sharp Cheddar was extra super duper sharp – it almost hurt to eat it by itself from the really intense flavor it had. If you like that super “it feels like it’s punching back” kind of sharpness to your cheese, you should check that one out.
The Kerrygold Skellig is a new Kerrygold product that I noticed at Fresh and Easy not too long ago. It’s not sweet like dessert-sugar-sweet, but it’s definitely sweeter and more milder than the punch-you-in-the-face sharp cheese. I really liked it!
In addition to cheeses, I made a couple of mushroom dishes. This one I’m pretty proud of – it’s my remake of the mushroom souffle that I had at Via Lago recently! It’s made with three kind of mushrooms (button, baby bella and oyster), leeks, garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan, olive oil, and a touch of cream. Mine didn’t taste quite the same as the one at Via Lago, but I thought it was pretty darn delicious. I molded it into a little round ramekin and then served it with a Parmesan cream sauce and a roasted garlic tomato sauce (jarred).
This was really delicious with some french bread, on crackers, with the sauces, with the cheese… with everything!
I also did one other really simple dish – grilled bacon wrapped mushrooms! I simply wrapped the bacon around each baby bella mushroom (these are a little bigger than the button mushrooms and have a little more flavor) and then cooked them off our gas grill outside until the bacon was cooked all the way. The mushrooms get tender and juicy and the bacon flavored cooks right into the mushrooms making it smoky and a little crispy.
This is the whole spread!
I also made dessert, but I didn’t take any photos of it because I’m silly.
Happy birthday to Heather! Get the recipe for the mushroom souffle below:
- 4 cups assorted mushrooms (baby bella, button, oyster, shitaki, etc.), finely chopped
- 1 leek, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- handful of chopped Italian parsley
- touch of heavy cream (optional)
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper
- In a heated pan with a bit of olive oil, saute the leeks. After a few minutes, add in the chopped garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add chopped mushrooms and parsley and cook until the mushrooms and leeks are tender.
- I made fresh bread crumbs and toasted them - but feel free to use plain bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs. Add bread crumbs and grated Parmesan to the mushroom mixture. Add a touch of heavy cream (optional) and pull off the heat.
- Take about half of the mixture and put it into a blender or food processor to smooth out the mixture. Mix back in with the rest of the mushroom for a nice consistency.
- Spray/grease a ramekin or other mold. Fill with mushroom mixture. When ready, unmold onto a plate and serve with tomato sauce and a reduction of Parmesan cream sauce (simply simmer heavy cream until thick and add Parmesan cheese).
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