At LeRoux Kitchen we are fortunate to have many wine connoisseurs and cheese lovers among our staff. Joining us today is our very own food and wine buyer, Cully Eisner-Terrill who has some wonderful recommendations on how to build the ultimate cheese board.
Of course anyone can throw crackers and slices of cheese on a plate, but with just a tad more effort a cheese board can take what was once a simple appetizer to now become an exciting eating experience.
To begin you’ll want to select a cheese board (or many depending on how many pairings you wish to do). There are so many options from slate to marble, and everything in between. Even a wooden cutting board will do.
Select the Cheese
Next it’s time to add some cheese! An ideal cheese board has 3–5 cheeses. You want each cheese to be truly memorable and distinct from the others on the board. Grab a mix of textures (soft, hard, and crumbly), strengths, and colors and shapes. Think firm like Parmesan, semi-firm like Swiss, soft like chévre, and super soft like brie. A good rule of thumb is to have all your milk bases covered: goat, sheep, and cow.
Make the Presentation Inviting
When it comes to arranging the cheeses, feel free to leave the cheeses uncut so that guests can cut their own slices using cheese knives, or perhaps pre-slice some of the cheeses. Next you’ll want to add a mix of salty and sweet accoutrements to accompany your cheese board.The options are truly endless! For instance, you can add: fresh fruit, local honey, nuts, bread, crackers, charcuterie (like prosciutto, salami, or sausage), mustard, pickled vegetables, dried fruit, olives, jam, preserves, marmalades, chutneys, and the list goes on. From a styling perspective, you can add a few sprigs of fresh rosemary or sage to garnish your board once everything has been arranged.
Now for the fun part! A wine pairing can be the perfect touch to enjoying any cheese board and can bring the flavors out even more. At LeRoux Kitchen we carry a wide assortment of wines from all over the world. The things that are important to me about our wine section is that we focus on smaller producers, natural or sustainable wines, and find the best wines at the most reasonable prices. We don't carry stuff you can find at your local grocery store.
You can pair a selection of red and white wines with your cheeses, but I also often suggest to customers that cider is a natural pairing for cheese since they're both so complex and earthy. Cider can both compliment and contrast the flavors and aromas of certain cheeses. Slightly sparkling ciders help cut through the rich fat of creamier cheeses, and the acidity can temper the salt and fat and elevate the nuances of a cheese.
With spring in mind I reached for a light, dry rosé and fruity red.
Pro tip #1: Pair wines and cheeses with equal intensity.
As cheese ages and loses water-content, it becomes richer in flavor with its increased fat content. These two attributes are ideal for matching bold red wines because the fat content in the cheese counteracts the high-tannins in the wine. For the best results, select cheeses that have been aged at least a year, including Cheddar, Gruyère, Manchego, Gouda, Provolone, or Parmesan-style varieties like Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano.
Red wine: We tasted Il Rosso
Cheese: manchego and asiago
Accoutrements: red grapes, salami, and raspberry hibiscus jam
Pro tip #2: Bold red wines pair best with aged cheeses
Pink wine - We tasted Pettirosso Allegro
Cheese: manchego and brie
Accoutrements: apple slices, green grapes, multi-grain crisps, and Savannah Bee honey
Pro tip #3: Sparkling wines are incredible with soft, creamy cheeses
Sparkling wines have high acidity and carbonation, which offer a palate cleansing effect to creamy, sticky cheeses such as Brie, Muenster, or Camembert.
Cider - We tasted a Whaleback Farm Cider (Barrel Reserve) Cheese: gouda and herbed chevre Accoutrements: salami, jam, red grapes, and Mike’s hot honey (a staff favorite)
Ciders with noticeable residual sugar complement cheeses that make a sweet impression, like aged Gouda and nutty alpine-style cheese. Ciders with prickly carbonation cut through creamy cheeses. Tart ciders welcome high-acid cheeses, like young goat cheese.
The thing to remember is that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to build a cheese board. So long as you focus on a combination of textures and flavors, you cannot go wrong. When it comes to choosing wines to pair, opt for ones you love, but don’t be afraid to try something new. You never know what new flavor(s) you may find you really like by going outside your comfort zone.
- 1 5-6 Lb. Whole Chicken
- 1 Large Onion, peeled & quartered
- 5 Stalks Celery, cut in half, but leaving on the leafy part of the celery
- 3 Large Carrots, peeled & halved
- 2 Tbs. Whole Peppercorns
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 2 Tbs. Kosher Salt
- Water to fully cover chicken & vegetables
- 1 Pkg. Matzo Ball Mix
Remove giblets and completely wash chicken. Place in a large stockpot along with vegetables and herbs. Add at least 3 qts. of water or until chicken and vegetables are completely covered. Simmer on medium heat approximately 2 hours, or until chicken begins to fall apart. Remove chicken and vegetables and strain to achieve a clear broth. You may have to strain it 3 or 4 times to make sure the broth is clear. Reserve chicken to add to soup or chicken salad. Let broth cool completely to skim off fat; reserve fat. Make matzo balls according to package directions, substituting reserved chicken fat for cooking oil.
- 1/2 lb blanched asparagus
- 2 cups arugula
- 1/2 cup shelled and cooked edamame beans
- 1/2 cup shelled spring peas
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, torn
- radish, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 2 (5 ounce) salmon fillets
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons 18 Year Traditional Balsamic
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Chopped green onion, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then coat with non-stick cooking spray. In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and beginning to brown, watching carefully so that it does not burn. Add the balsamic vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk and simmer until the mixture thickens. Place salmon skin-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Brush generously with the glaze. Bake for 5 minutes, brush again with the glaze, then bake 5 to 10 additional minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork and is cooked through. Sprinkle with chopped green onion and serve.
Although Easter is often considered one of the more formal holidays of the year you can opt for a more casual brunch with family and friends. Not only is this brunch menu great for Easter, but also a great way to celebrate the onset of spring.
You have to have eggs for Easter brunch! And not just the dyed kind—we're talking deviled eggs, quiches, frittatas, omelets, you name it. A flavorful Easter brunch menu should also work in fresh seasonal ingredients, such as asparagus, scallions, and peas.
When it comes to drinks we suggest keeping it simple: a mimosa bar with several juice options and a bowl of fresh berries so people can make their own.
Take visual cues from springtime. For instance, we used soft green placemats and white dishes to serve the food on. Of course no Easter-themed meal is complete without incorporating a rabbit (or a few) so we lay a cute bunny tablecloth on our rustic farm table.
For a simple, yet elegant table arrangement, we choose a centerpiece of freshcut flowers and an array of dyed Easter eggs in colorful Le Creuset egg dishes. Another idea is to set your plates with a single tulip tied neatly to a dinner napkin for each guest.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest, about 2 lemons
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, strained
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease loaf pan, line the bottom and longer sides with parchment paper and grease the paper with butter. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl combine the yogurt, sugar eggs, lemon zest and vanilla, whisk until combined. Whisk the flour mixture into the liquid mixture until well combined. Fold in the oil with a rubber spatula until thoroughly mixed, then add the blueberries. Pour the batter in the the pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, checking at the 50 minute mark until toothpick comes out clean in center. Remove from oven to baking rack and cool for about 10 minutes leaving it in the pan, remove cake from pan with the parchment handles and let cool another 10 minutes or so until just warm. For the glaze, whisk together the confectioners sugar, lemon juice and zest until combined, pour over cake.
One of our favorite Easter traditions is dying and decorating Easter eggs at home. It’s a fun, festive activity to do with children or on your own. There’s no need to purchase a pre-made set when so many of the ingredients can be found in your kitchen cabinet.
20 drops food coloring
½ cup boiling water
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Step 1: Begin by lining a large baking sheet with paper towels and top with wire cooling rack.
Step 2: For each dye bath combine 1/2 cup boiling water with 1 tsp vinegar and 10-20 drops of food coloring in a bowl. Dip hard-boiled eggs in dye bath for 3-5 minutes, extend time for richer color.
Step 3: Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove eggs and place on wax paper to dry, blot any excess with a paper towel.
This year marked the 10th anniversary of Maine Restaurant Week, a local initiative to boost restaurants’ business during the winter season. Portland’s Old Port (where LeRoux Kitchen is located) is home to many award-winning restaurants serving everything from classic lobster rolls to exotic nouvelle cuisine. One of our all-time favorites is David’s Restaurant, the culinary anchor to award-winning Chef David Turin’s popular Maine restaurants. This past week we had the opportunity to meet Chef David in the kitchen to see how he uses our Cuisinart®MultiClad Pro Stainless Cookware to create some of his tastiest creations.
The unique layout of David’s Restaurant allows for patrons to feel part of the culinary experience as the kitchen is accessible to the main dining area. The rich aroma of tantalizing seafood and fresh baked pizza fills the space, making it difficult to not want to order every item off the menu. That day, David prepared us Pepper Crusted Sushi Rare Tuna, a dish consisting of sesame-peanut soba noodles, szechwan citrus sauce sesame asparagus, and a scrumptious shrimp dish.
As restaurant owner and head chef, David relies on cookware that consistently performs well and can last the test of time. He opts for the Cuisinart®MultiClad Pro Stainless skillets because the stainless triple ply construction with the core of pure aluminum allows for unsurpassed durability and performance. The heat SurroundTM technology makes for even heat distribution, which makes it easier to prepare multiple dishes in half the time.
“What an incredible product. We use each skillet about twelve times a day, on full flame, and then immediately wash them in ice cold water. If they can stand up to our using them at full capacity all year round and can survive, imagine how useful they can be for the everyday home chef who wants a durable product that will last them a lifetime.”
At LeRoux, we believe that every meal is a chance to create and to connect with others. The assortment of products and ingredients we sell serve as components for something larger, allowing our customers to create unique experiences for themselves, for their friends and for their family through the preparation and enjoyment of food. It brings us great joy to know that we can deliver ease of cooking to well-known restaurant chefs and home chefs alike.
We look forward to sharing more food recipes and customer stories on the blog!
- 1 cup Sugar
- Zest and juice of 1 Orange
- Scant ½ cup Buttermilk
- 3 large Eggs
- ⅔ cup Blood Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 ¾ cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 ½ Tsp. Baking Powder
- ½ Tsp. Salt
- 2 Tbs. Large Crystal Sugar for decorating
Preheat oven to 350. Butter 9” spring form cake pan. Using a Microplane, grate zest from orange and place in a bowl with sugar. Using your fingers, rub ingredients together until orange zest is evenly distributed in sugar. Using a juice, squeeze juice into a measuring cup; you will need about ¼ cup of orange juice. Add buttermilk to juice until you have ⅔ cup liquid altogether. Pour mixture into bowl with sugar and whisk well. Whisk in eggs and olive oil. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Gently stir dry ingredients into wet ones. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle the crystal sugar over the top of the cake. Bake cake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden and a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then unmold.
- 6 Sea Bass fillets
- 4 Tbs. Olive Oil
- 4 large Onions
- 1 bunch Thyme
- Half a Lemon
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Rinse your bass fillets under cold water, making sure all scales are off, then pat dry and leave skin side down on a dry paper towel. Trim and peel your onions, then cut them in half. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add 2 Tbs. olive oil, then add the onions and season with salt, cook the onions cut side down. When the onions begin to sizzle place the whole pan in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the pan and flip the onions over in the pan add the thyme, then set aside as you cook the fish. In a large pan, or two medium-sized ones, heat the remaining olive oil (adding more if necessary as the skin should not stick with this technique). Season the fish nicely on both sides with salt and place into pans of smoking oil, skin side down. Shake free from the pan as you add them, and if the skin sticks don’t mess with the fish for a minute or so. Cook over high heat getting a nice sizzle on the skin for 2-3 minutes. Baste the fish with hot oil from the pan, squeeze lemon over them and turn the heat off as the fish should cook 90 percent of the time skin side down. Flip over gently with a fish spatula and allow the fish to finish cooking for 15-30 seconds, then serve alongside roasted onions with crispy thyme as a garnish.