December was a bumper month for Cheese, Please! entries with a veritable panoply of cheesy nibbles that would make any party go with a bang. From popcorn to parcels, palmiers to pastries and truffles to tartlets, people cooked with parmesan, stilton, goat’s cheese, brie, camembert and cheddar – and even with vegan cheese – to make something for everyone at the buffet table.
The first up this month was a new participant, Louisa at Eat Your Veg, who shared her Parmesan and Smoked Paprika Popcorn. I’m always a fan of savoury rather than sweet popcorn and also a big fan of smoked paprika, so this simple recipe looks ridiculously moreish.
Next along was Sarah from The Garden Deli who never fails us with her garden photography and recipes. For this challenge she entered a Shallot and Stilton Dip (top points for a festive cheese choice) combining the allium (see, I learnt something!) and cheese with sour cream and yoghurt for the perfect seasonal dip.
Linda from Mrs Portly’s Kitchen cooked up not one but two cheesy delights. First of all were Goat’s Cheese Truffles with Pistachio and Thyme, little balls of cheese-nutty loveliness that could easily be mistaken for white chocolates and would be equally nice.
Also up for nibblage were her Cheese and Leek Tartlets, a classic combination peeking out from little pastry cases, speckled with chives and garnished with red peppers.
Food Day-Dreaming never fails with her cheese creations and this time presented us with a trio of Cheese Truffles. Little balls of goat’s cheese, feta and bocconcini are rolled in various herbs, spices and salts so that there’s something for everyone (unless you are a blue cheese lover, of course, as she has deftly swerved the stinky stuff once again ;))
I had plans for all sorts of cheesy bites this month but shopping for smoked salmon and Peppa Pig paraphernalia took over my life. But I’d had this recipe for Belvoir Crumpets earmarked for Christmas for months though and so was determined to cook it up. Home-made crumpets, slathered in Stilton, port and walnuts – seriously, what more do you need to get you through the winter months?
Cooking duo Rosemary and Pork Belly (it feels very rude calling someone Pork Belly but what can I do?) shimmied up to the table with their Goat Cheese and Beetroot Marmalade Parcels, an interesting combination that I like the sound of. Goat’s cheese, beetroot and spices are parcelled up in little filo bundles that look perfectly mouth-sized. Extra points are also awarded for the lavish use of reindeer and tinsel throughout.
Another new participant this month was the ingeniously-named Put On Your Cake Pants who baked up some Cranberry Brie ‘Ravioli’ Pastries. Encasing the festive siblings that are cranberry and brie in a delicate French pastry (that looks way beyond my culinary capabilities), these are yet another bite-sized cheesy treat perfect for parties.
Foodie Quine cooked up an amazing advent calendar of festive food and shared Day 22, Camembert and Cranberry Croissant Bakes, a simple recipe using croissant dough, cheese and cranberry sauce for a too-gooey-for-the-dancefloor handful of loveliness.
Louisa from Eat Your Veg came back with a second helping of festive fromage with her Pesto, Sun-dried Tomato and Parmesan Palmiers, beautiful little knots of puff pastry, parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes and kale pesto. Quick to whip up and quicker to scoff down.
Caroline Makes brought more pastry to the party with some Blue Cheese, Parmesan and Green Olive Breadsticks. Cheese and olives are mixed with herbs and piri-piri sauce and an impressive home-made pastry and then rolled out, chopped up and twisted into easily-wieldable cheesy sticks.
Jacqui at Good Food Seeking is cooking her way through a 1948 cookbook and so brings a welcome retro touch with her Cheese Aigrettes. Essentially choux pastry balls of stilton (which seems a touch extravagant for the post-war years!) these posh cheesy puffs are the belle balls of the ball.
Still with cheese to give, Caroline Makes returned with her Festive Cheese Balls with Nuts and Cranberries. An American concept I’ve been longing to try, Cheese Balls are exactly what they say on the tin – balls of cheese, in this case combined with dried cranberries, red onion, nuts and seasonings. Spread it, dip it or just gobble it whole.
The last two recipes to be shared this month were a bit of a surprise as they’re vegan – not a culinary choice usually associated with cheese. Janet from The Taste Space linked up with her Pecan and Cranberry Cheese Log. I’d heard of vegan cheese before, usually made with nuts such as cashews, but never realised that they are sometimes fermented. In this case, pecans and cashews are blended with oils, tahini and lemon juice and topped with cranberries. A great topping for crackers or dip for sticks.
The final vegan recipe is Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip. I umm-ed and aah-ed about this one as there doesn’t appear to be much cheesy about it at all. However, Janet says that the inclusion of nutritional yeast makes it taste cheesy, so that seems good enough for me. If you can’t eat cheese or you don’t eat cheese but still like a taste of the good stuff, this sounds yummy. Plus, I love artichokes and it’s Christmas so the more recipes the merrier!
Thanks to everyone who shared their cheesy nibble recipes this month. A very happy New Year to everyone and I look forward to seeing what you’re all cooking up in 2014.