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Great Day Kitchen, 11/21/17 - Cheese plate & Pecan Pie Bars

Chef Hillori Hansen, from Whole Foods in Fresno visited the Great Day Kitchen to prepare some delicious food.

Chef Hillori Hansen, from Whole Foods in Fresno visited the Great Day Kitchen to prepare some delicious food.


Build a Cheese Plate

(By Whole Foods)



Selecting the Cheese

The right cheese course can turn a nice dinner into a memorable dining experience. For most occasions, three to five selections of cheese are appropriate for a cheese plate. When pairing cheese, select cheeses that are contrasting in taste and texture; balance the sweet with the pungent, the firm with the creamy. Fresh fruits such as grapes, sliced pears and figs complement cheeses, as do savories such as olives, roasted nuts and marinated vegetables.

Bread or Crackers?

Let personal preference decide. Try to match the character of the bread or crackers with the cheeses being served. By serving both bread and crackers, the difference in textures enhances the diversity of the cheeses. A few favorites include crostini crackers, water crackers, olive or walnut bread and the baguette. Select crackers that don't have trans fats, commonly known as hydrogenated oils.

Olives and Other Savories

Kalamata olives are a simple addition to a cheese course but bring a huge amount of flavor. Take a few extra minutes to "dress" or marinate the olives by draining them of brine and adding spices like chili flakes. Whole garlic cloves, pieces of sun-dried tomatoes and grilled or marinated vegetables marinated in balsamic vinegar can also be a welcomed addition.

Additional touches that go perfectly with wine and cheese:

  • Marcona Almonds: Smooth, tan almonds known for their sweetness and soft texture, this Spanish almond can be tossed with a bit of oil and salt.
  • Fresh Fruit: Create a spectacular and colorful fruit display with an array of organic apples, pears and grapes. Display them in a basket for a fresh-from-market look or in clear glass cylinders for a more modern look.


Serving Cheese

Unwrap cheese and arrange on a platter at least an hour before guests arrive. Leave enough room on the plate for the cheeses to settle and breathe. Brie should not be heated in the microwave because it becomes runny; rather, place it near the oven to achieve desired creaminess. In general, all rinds are edible, even the "brainy" rinds with spots of mold. Not all cheeses ripen simultaneously. Please ask a team member at your local Whole Foods Market which selections are ripe and ready to be served.

A cheese course can be served on a platter, wooden cutting board, or even marble floor tiles from a home improvement store. Scatter a few berries and nuts or add large caper berries and cornichon to the platter for a finishing touch. Note: It is best to let cheese "breathe" a little before serving as it enhances their delicate flavors. They should be served at room temperature.


Pecan Pie Bars


Crust:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup butter or coconut oil, softened


Pecan Filling:


  • ¼ cup agave or honey
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 ½ cups chopped pecans


Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl combine the almond flour, coconut sugar and baking soda. Add softened butter and mix until it comes together. Line the bottom of an 8 X 8 baking dish with parchment paper and grease the inside of the paper with butter or oil. Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake at 350 for about 15 – 20 minutes or until the crust looks golden brown. Cool completely.

When crust is cooled bring agave or honey, coconut sugar, maple syrup, cream, butter and salt to a boil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Stir constantly until the butter melts and the mixture is smooth. Boil for about 1 – 2 minutes then remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla bean paste and the chopped pecans.

Pour the pecan filling over the cooled crust.

Bake at 350 for 15 more minutes or until the filling bubbles. Cool bars completely and serve with a dollop of whip cream or just as is.



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