Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Cheese Platter-Mexican Style

As I write this, I can truly say….this is the fullest I have ever been.  Not with love, or ambition, but cheese.  I just single handedly ate a cheese plate.  I couldn’t help it.  Cheese is my number one food.  It is the food that I would pick if somebody forced me to only eat one food for the rest of my life.  Think of the possibilities….cheese sticks, cheesecake, cheese balls, etc.  I have to admit….if I walk into your party, and you have a cheese plate….I like you a little bit more.  Like 10% more than I did before I got there. 
I have been thinking lately that I want to do another series.  Like when I did “Boozie Cakes.”  I want to do a series of posts about Mexican food.  Please keep in mind….I am the biggest gringa that you will ever meet.  I have no Latina blood.  Yet, I like to think that I can bust out Mexican food like I am maybe a little bit Hispanic.  Maybe somewhere, way back in my lineage, there is some Latina in me?  And you know the Latina I want to be like?  Marcella Vallodolid.  She has a show on Food Network called “Mexican Made Easy”.  She is the cutest thing in the world, and girlfriend can cook some Mexican food.  I guess it helps that she was born and raised in Tijuana.  I speak of her as if I know her…..I don’t.  I am more of a creepy stalker.  I love everything about her….except for the fact that she is cuter than me.  That actually makes me like her less;)
Anyhoo, back to my Mexican food….I am going to do a series of Mexican recipes that I have come up with.  So again, they will be “Courtney” versions, and not super authentic.  Don’t hate the gringa.  I am starting with a quick appetizer.  This will be more of an “idea” then a recipe.  It’s a …………..cheese plate.  A Mexican cheese plate.  Like I said above, I love a good cheese plate.  I love me some blue cheese, goat cheese, brie, etc.  But I am mixing it up….I am using all Mexican cheeses.  My local grocery store has a kick ass Mexican cheese section.  Yours probably does too, as it is widely available.  This cheese plate will be a welcome surprise at any party.  It is different and unexpected.  Most of these cheeses are probably pretty unfamiliar to many of you.
I chose 5 cheeses.  I used Cotija, Enchilado, Queso Quesadilla, Queso Panela, and Monterey Jack.  This is a mix between hard cheeses and soft, melty cheeses so it should be a good mix for everyone.
Cotija is a hard, crumbly cheese that is similar to Parmesan cheese.  Enchilado is also a hard, crumbly cheese that is coated in chili powder, usually.  Queso Quesadilla is a soft melty cheese and is Monterey Jack.  Queso Panela is a fresh cheese that is crumbly.  They are all amazing.
The great thing about these cheeses is that they are delicious and different, but they are relatively inexpensive.  You can get exotic cheese without going to the fancy cheese counter.  How great is that?
Four of the cheeses got put on a pretty platter.  The Montery Jack will get a quick trip to the oven, so it isn’t on this platter.  I labeled my cheeses.  Like I said, there is a chance that these will be brand new for many people.  Labels help.
Don’t worry, the platter will get some decoration/garnish/extra snacks.
I cubed the Monterey Jack and put it in an oven-proof dish.  I baked this at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes, until it was all melted and bubbly.  This really shows off how well this cheese melts.  It stays smooth.  This cheese is unbelievable in burritos, on nachos, etc.
It got its own label too.  I placed this right next to the cheese platter after I sprinkled some chili lime seasoning and green onions over the top.
I added little cherry tomatoes, fresh cilantro and a few jalapenos to my platter.  I also put some tortilla chips on the platter.  This would replace the crackers, grapes, and other tid bits that you would find on your run of the mill cheese platter.
I also put some warm tortillas out, instead of bread.  The melty, hot Monterey Jack is amazing in tortillas.
I set out some green salsa, along with some diced jalapenos and pico de gallo.
I mean, seriously, how good does this cheese platter/board look?  I would be so excited if I walked into a party and found this.
Yum again!

I realize that this isn’t a “recipe”.  This is an easy idea for a party, soiree, gathering, get together, fiesta, etc.  It is almost no cook….almost, I said.  You do have to turn the oven on.  But basically, you are buying a bunch of stuff from the store and assembling.  And it will impress.  Everyone loves a cheese platter, everyone loves Mexican food.  Do you see the logic there?
I will be back on Thursday with an actual recipe.  I will show you how to put together a “Guacamole Bar.”  And I will include my recipe for an amazing guacamole.  Yep, I make some meeeeeaaaaaan guacamole;)

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