A Post for Cheese-Lovers Only

I love cheese. My cat loves cheese. Your grandma loves cheese. Basically everyone loves the stuff! I decided to make a cheese plate for an hors d-eouvre for my partner and myself while we were anxiously waiting on our entree to cook. I may have spoiled my appetite with this a little, but oh my gosh, was it worth it. This post provides cheese pairing suggestions and tips for delicious sweet-savory, creamy-crunchy combinations that will have your guests asking for more!

I recently went to a bar and restaurant in downtown Saint Paul and ordered their seasonal cheese board to split with my better half. My jaw dropped at how expensive it was, but it was absolutely phenomenal. That inspired my want to create something equally as delicious for a fraction of the price. Their board paired a sheep milk brie, sage-marbled provolone, and 4-year sharp cheddar with house-made candied walnuts, fig spread, frisee, and berries. I’m not a huge fan of the stinky cheeses, so although I tried the brie I couldn’t get past the slightly fermented taste the sheep milk lent it. Another bonus of building my own board: no stinky cheese allowed!

I chose a Tillamook Smoked Black Peppercorn White Cheddar, Boursin Garlic and Herb Gournay-style cheese, and a merlot-soaked hard cheese. Not the best first pairing ever, but hey, it’s cheese and it’s going to be good regardless. I paired them with a store bought fig jam, which is my new favorite thing, butter toffee peanuts from the store, and a lavender honey my mom’s friend cultivates in the summer. The strawberries added another layer of sweetness to lighten up the cheese – especially the Boursin.

Presentation is key in making a fancy little cheese plate that impresses your friends – I just had fun with it and it turned out surprisingly well! I wish I had a little ramekin to put the fig jam in, but other than that it was easy to eat. The next cheese board I make is going to have some crudite and more of a variation of cheeses…follow The Amateur Professional to keep up with my cheese creations!


Tomato Basil Bisque

In early January of this year among sub-zero temperatures, I came down with a gnarly cold. Coughing, sneezing, sore throat…the whole nine yards. Luckily for me, my partner is amazing and knew that tomato soup would soothe my cold. Little did I know he was going to make it from scratch! I’m surprised to say it, but I’ve never made a scratch tomato soup, so it was a learning experience for both of us that ended deliciously.

He found a recipe online, but I’m sharing our tweaked version with you! We served up the soup with a buttery, crunchy grilled cheese full of swiss and caramelized onions.

Tomato Basil Bisque

  • 1 large can stewed, fire-roasted tomatoes (I find these provide a nice smoky flavor)
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, depending on how creamy you like your soup
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Optional: flour and oil mixed together to form a pasteĀ (called a slack roux) to thicken the soup if the consistency is too thin for your taste

First, sweat the onions and clove of garlic until the onions are translucent. Dump in all the tomato products and the spices and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. This whole mixture goes straight in to a blender or food processor, then back in to the pot. Add the cream, while whisking, very slowly over a low heat to make sure the cream doesn’t separate. At this point, if you’re not happy with the consistency, go ahead and add about a teaspoon of your slack roux to start with. Whisk the soup well while adding the roux; You can always add more roux to thicken the soup even further.