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      Opal Living

      Perfecting the Art of Making a Winning  Cheese Board

      Perfecting the Art of Making a Winning Cheese Board

      Entertaining can be stressful at times, but we love having friends and family over to catch up and snack on delicious treats.  When you’re short on time and you don’t know what to serve a lovely cheese plate will delight your guests.  The rule of thumb is threes.  Three fruits(dried or fresh), three spreads, and three cheeses. If you’re adding meats just go with what you like. For the cheeses pick a firm, soft, and blue-veined varietal. Also, about 2 ounces per person should do the trick on serving. Make sure you have different types of spreaders, a serving board, and small dishes for you accompaniments. Grape leaves, fresh herbs, and edible flowers add a nice touch to break up the cheeses and make for a pretty presentation.

      Firm & Semi-Firm Cheeses

      • Cheddar White & Yellow
      • Comte
      • Gouda
      • Gruyere
      • Manchego
      • Jarlsberg

      Soft Cheeses

      • Camembert
      • Brie
      • Humboldt fog cheese 
      • Chevre

      Blue-Veined Cheese

      • Gorgonzola
      • Danish Blue
      • Roquefort
      • Stilton


      Fruits Dried or Fresh

      • Apples
      • Pear
      • Grapes
      • Apricot
      • Dates
      • Figs (personal favorite)
      • Pomegranate Seeds


      • Salame (Genoa, Peppered, Dry)
      • Game Sausage (Duck, Venison, Boar)
      • Pepperoni
      • Serrano Ham
      • Chorizo
      • Prosciutto
      • Pâté

        Other Accompaniments to Consider

        • Olives (Stuffed with feta or blue cheese is always a winner)
        • Cornichons
        • Marcona Almonds, Pistachio, Walnuts
        • Marinated Artichokes
        • Sun Dried Tomatoes
        • Roasted Red Peppers
        • Chocolate 

        All thats left is to pick some crackers whether it's sour dough crackers, crusty bread, cheese straws, or pretzel thins. In the end just have fun and enjoy your company over a glass wine and cheese! 

        à votre santé



        Visit Bay Head Cheese Shop for every cheese option you can imagine. The entire team is well versed in cheese and will be more than happy to steer you in the right direction. Visit: 




        Steak for Your Sweetheart

        Steak for Your Sweetheart

        With Valentine’s Day right around the corner and restaurant reservations getting difficult to find, why not make dinner at home?  Everyone loves the taste of a great steak from a fancy restaurant, and it’s not hard at all to replicate at home.  All you need is some basic skills and a few kitchen tools to achieve a dinner to impress. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be an expensive experience with filet mignon.  A strip steak is just as good, and sometimes better, because the fat marbling makes for a juicy and soft butter-like bite. When shopping for a steak, look for bold red color and lines of fat throughout the steak.  Evenly spread fat lines throughout the strip will make for an even and more consistent steak. Don’t be afraid to ask your butcher for help.  They are there to help and can set you up with a stellar cut of beef to be the award winning chef you know you can be!

        Steps to make a perfectly seared steak:

        2  (12-14 ounce) Sirloin Steaks (or 10 ounce fillet mignon if you’re feeling fancy)

        3 tablespoons vegetable oil

        1 tablespoon coarse salt

        1 tablespoon black & pink peppercorn blend 

        1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
        2. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator 45 mins before you are ready to grill.  Pat the steaks dry and season generously with coarse salt.  Allow the steaks to reach room temperature while you prepare compound butter (if using)..
        3. By now, the steaks should release moisture, which will in turn guarantee a beautiful crust. Pat dry and season again lightly with coarse salt and generously with freshly ground pepper blend. I prefer a mix of black and pink peppercorn for its subtle yet complex flavors.
        4. Set a heavy dry cast iron skillet on high heat and let it sit there until it’s piping hot, about 5 minutes. 
        5. Sear each side of the steak 2-3 minutes and make sure you only turn once on each side.  You do not want to disturb the steak while it creates its crust.
        6. Place 1 tablespoon of the compound butter onto each steak and place in oven. Remove at 120 degrees F for rare and 125 degrees F for medium-rare with an instant read thermometer.  
        7. Remove steaks from pan and cover with aluminum foil to allow the steaks to rest for 10 minutes before serving.  If you skip this step you risk not allowing the juices enough time to settle in.  You do not want to lose the juicy qualities of this steak, so relax and pour a glass of wine.

         Searing a steak in a black cast iron skillet


         Compound Herb Butter

        1 stick unsalted butter, softened

        1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt

        1/4 teaspoon of coarse freshly ground black pepper

        1 clove garlic minced

        3 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil or parsley)

        1. Combine all ingredients and mix well.
        2. Place butter on a sheet of plastic wrap and form a log.  
        3. Roll butter tightly and twist ends of the plastic. 
        4. Place in refrigerator for at least one hour 

        You can also place the butter in a ramekin lined with plastic wrap. Remove the formed butter from fridge and slice pieces.