Courses and Plates

Looking to add culinary flair to an intimate gathering? An inviting, delicious cheese course will surely impress. Eye-catching and palate-pleasing, a collection of special cheeses makes an ideal appetizer, dinner fare, or savory alternative to dessert. Cheese courses are a great way to introduce your guests to fabulous new varieties.
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Cheese: Alpine, Green Fields, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Swiss
Category: Appetizer
Servings: Makes 4 cups

Cheese: Cheddar, Gorgonzola
Category: Appetizer
Servings: Makes 6 cups

Cheese: Blue/Bleu, Gorgonzola
Category: Appetizer
Servings: 60-72 bacon pieces

Cheese: Feta, Mascarpone, Ricotta
Category: Appetizer
Servings: 24 candied strips

Cheese: Asadero, Cotija, Queso Blanco, Queso Fresco
Category: Appetizer
Servings: Makes about 2 1/2 cups

Cheese: Brie
Category:
Servings: About 1 1/4 cups

Spicy Pecan and Dried Apricot Brittle
By Chef Goose Sorensen

Servings: Makes 4 cups


Ingredients:

1 stick (4 ounces) butter
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Pinch each of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cayenne, coriander and salt
2 cups pecan halves
2 cups dried apricots, chopped

Cooking Directions:

Preheat oven to 400º F. Melt butter in large sauté pan. Add sugars, corn syrup and spices. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture bubbles. Add pecans and dried apricots. Continue cooking for 3 to 5 minutes, or until mixture reaches hard ball stage (250-265º F). Spread on baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake 4 minutes. Cool; break apart. Serve as an accompaniment to a Wisconsin cheese course or buffet.

Complementary to many cheeses including aged cheddar and washed rind alpine styles, such as Alpine, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Green Fields and Aged Swiss.

Black Walnut Fig Granola
By Chef Jason Gorman

Servings: Makes 6 cups


Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup black walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried mission figs, chopped
1/4 cup sesame seeds
3/4 cup honey
1/3 cup walnut oil

Cooking Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line jelly roll pan with sides with parchment paper. Stir together rolled oats, coconut, walnuts, figs and sesame seeds. In separate bowl, combine honey and oil; whisk to combine. Pour over oat mixture; mix well. Spread evenly on prepared pan.

Bake 20 minutes; stir. Bake another 10 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Turn mixture onto large piece of foil; pat flat. Cool and break into chunks. Store at room temperature in tightly sealed containers or bags for up to 2 weeks. May also be stored longer in freezer.

Serve as an accompaniment with Wisconsin artisan and specialty cheeses, such as those pictured, gorgonzola, cheddar and cranberry chipotle cheddar. Also good with earthy, soft cheeses such limburger, aged brick and Italico™.

Praline Bacon

Servings: 60-72 bacon pieces


Ingredients:

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup almond meal (or ground almonds, pecans or walnuts)
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
12 slices thick-cut or slab pepper-encrusted bacon

Cooking Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine all ingredients except bacon* in wide, shallow dish. Dip and press each slice of bacon in sugar mixture on both sides. Lay bacon strips on large, rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle additional sugar mixture over bacon slices in pan. Roast bacon until fat begins to render, about 6 minutes. Rotate pan front-to-back and continue roasting until bacon is crisp and brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove, cool and break or cut each bacon strip into 5-6 bite-sized pieces. Serve warm or cold with cheeses. The sweet-hot bacon accompaniment is especially good with creamy, tangy cheeses such as blue and gorgonzola.

*If pepper bacon is not available, add two tablespoons course ground black pepper to sugar mixture.

Candied Red Grapefruit Rind

Servings: 24 candied strips


Ingredients:

1 cup water
2 cups honey
Peel from one, large grapefruit (red if possible), cut into 24 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 cup sugar

Cooking Directions:

Combine water and honey in saucepan; simmer over medium heat until blended. Add grapefruit pieces; simmer for 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let grapefruit sit in honey syrup for at least one hour or overnight. Remove strips from syrup and roll in sugar. Can be stored in an airtight container for one week. This accompaniment is especially good with creamy cheeses, such as mascarpone, butterkäse or Crema Kasa.

Hot Pepper Mango Salsa

Servings: Makes about 2 1/2 cups


Ingredients:

2 cups mango, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon Jalapeño chile, seeded and diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cooking Directions:

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and blend. Refrigerate covered for at least 3 hours before serving with cheese. Keep refrigerated for up to four days.

This spicy accompaniment is especially good with fresh creamy cheeses, such as Queso Blanco and Queso Fresco. Buttery styles, such as Havarti and Butter Käse, are also a good choice.

Plum-Cranberry Compote

Servings: About 1 1/4 cups


Ingredients:

2 ripe but firm plums, pitted and chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
3 tablespoons sugar
Zest and juice of 1 small lemon
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons water
Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Directions:

In medium saucepan, combine plums, cranberries, sugar, lemon zest and juice, thyme and water; cover and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until plums are just tender and cranberries have popped, 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes more. Set aside to cool; then season with salt and pepper.

Try this brilliantly-colored accompaniment with Wisconsin brie or blue cheese. Cranberries also complement cheddar.

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