I was really excited about creating this menu. I grew up in a traditional Southern household. Our meals always consisted of a meat, one veggie, one starch. Unless of course mama got a little crazy and threw in another seasonal veggie. Or one that she needed to use. The idea of a meal with no meat was completely foreign.
It wasn’t until I began to reach outside my traditional Southern upbringing that I realized a meal really didn’t have to include meat. Roasted vegetables can be quite amazing and sweet potatoes can be spectacular as evidenced in this Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Burrata, White Truffle Oil & Shaved Black Truffle. I could eat this almost every day. Almost.
Cheese & Fruit Tray with Accompaniments
There are many, many ways to craft an awesome cheese tray. My method is the following:
- Select the cheeses: Choose one aged, one firm, one soft and one blue to cover all bases. I’m not a huge fan of flavored cheese for a cheese tray as there are so many things to pair with the cheeses. You’re looking a natural flavor of the cheese to sample with other things.
- Keep your condiments and accompaniments on the side: First, it will remain a cleaner tray than if you pour things over the cheeses. Second, it gives you more pairing and tasting options.
- Use a cheese knife or wire: Cut all slices for serving so your board remains clean and attractive. Use a cheese knife for firm cheese and a wire to cut soft or crumbly cheeses. Make certain your slices are just that. There’s no room for cubed cheese on an elegant cheese platter.
- Offer tasting options, but no overkill: Everyone loves tasting options, but almost lockdown with too many choices. I suggest a fruit, jam, fruit paste or quince to add sweetness; cornichons or pickled mustard seed to add acidity; a good balsamic vinegar.
- Enlist the help of an expert: Cheesemongers are a wealth of information and can help you create a board perfect for your party.
Roasted Golden Beet & Bleu Cheese Butter Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
- 2 Golden Beets, tops removed, cleaned and peeled
- 1 head Butter Leaf Lettuce
- 1 wedge of Bleu Cheese, crumbled
- Sourdough Croutons, Store bought or homemade
- 5 sprigs fresh Thyme, stems removed and leaves chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh Rosemary, remove stems and chop leaves
- Pomegranate seeds
- Good Olive Oil
- Pomegranate Infused Balsamic or an aged balsamic
- Fresh Chives, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup flat leaf Parsley, chopped
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Place washed beets on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, Thyme and Rosemary. Roast at 425 until beets are tender. Set aside.
Place butter leaves in a salad bowl. Top with warm beets, bleu cheese, croutons and pom seeds. Set aside.
Add remaining ingredients to a cruet. Determine the amount of oil and vinegar you use based on your palate. The ratio should be 2 parts of one, to 1 part of the other. If you prefer oil, use 2 parts oil, 1 part balsamic. If you prefer more balsamic, reverse the two portions. Shake until well blended. Serve over salad.
Roasted Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Burrata, White Truffle Oil & Shaved Black Truffle
- 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 extra large egg, slightly beaten
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 stick butter
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 ball fresh Burrata
- White Truffle Oil
- Black Truffle shavings
- salt & pepper to taste
Roast sweet potatoes at 425 for about 30 minutes or until tender. While they are warm, process in a food mill or with a potato ricer.
Make a well in the center of your potatoes and sprinkle with flour. Place egg, salt & nutmeg in the well, and begin to blend flour and egg with a fork. Once combined, bring dough together and hand knead for about 3 minutes or until dough ball is relatively dry.
Section dough into four balls, and begin rolling each ball into a 3/4″ rope. Cut rope into 1″ sections. Roll each gnocchi off of fork tines to form small grooves.
Drop dumplings in boiling water or chicken stock for about one minute, or until gnocchi floats. When it floats, it is done. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon, and drizzle with olive oil. Do not over cook.
Place butter in a saute pan over medium low heat. Allow to brown for about five minutes without disturbing the pan. When your butter begins to have a nutty, toasty aroma and begins to foam, stir with a rubber spatula. You will have tiny little flakes of browned milk solids which make the browned butter. This can also be called Beurre noisette.
Add gnocchi to the browned butter and toss. Top with Buratta, then drizzle with white truffle oil, and top with black truffle shavings. Dress with pom seeds and microgreens for color.