Winter Cheese Board with Chardonnay Fondue

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language

And next year’s words await another voice. –T.S. Eliot

This post was sponsored by The FeedFeed and Austerity Wines but all words, opinions, and love of cheese boards are my own.

We are just hours away from a new year and I am more than ready for all that lies ahead. It’s time for new adventures (Simon and I have some fun travels on the horizon), new beginnings (finally going to start looking to move out of the dreaded valley), and a new voice; how will you use yours to shape the year ahead?

I’m not one for resolutions—I don’t necessarily believe that one should wait for a new year to enact change. However, I understand the general inclination towards the practice. It’s a good time to shake things up. I look towards a new year as more of a shift in energy, shedding the emotions and habits of the old and stepping into the new with an open mind. It’s an opportunity to leave old narratives and mindsets behind and embrace the possibility of anything that is to come. And I’m beyond ready for what’s in store in the months ahead.

Simon and I usually spend New Year’s Eve at home. We are not into large parties, or having to drive the streets of LA amidst the chaos. In short, we’re an old married couple and we love it. We’ll be spending the evening in with this fun winter spread of snacks, a bottle of wine, and most likely watch movies and watch the ball drop—if I don’t fall asleep before then. It’s been known to happen!

This spread is definitely big enough for more than two, but we’re ambitious. However, if any family or friends decide to come over there will be plenty to share. I tried to select seasonal elements, along with some of my favorite cheese board accompaniments, in addition to some new and fun sounding snacks. I always strive for a mixture of texture and flavor when putting a board like this together. And while the majority of these things can be purchased from the store (making all our lives easier) I do always make it a point to create a few homemade additions as well.

My inspiration started with Austerity Wines who I was fortunate enough to partner with this past year. I was trying to decide which wine to pair this board with when I realized that I wanted to make fondue—perfect for cold winter nights! And because white wine is the star of good fondue, enter their Chardonnay. Creamy and layered it has aromas of crème brulee and apples, and notes of pineapple and tropical fruit with a buttery finish. Warmed with a combination of Raclette, Gruyere, and cheddar cheeses. I also added lots of garlic and rosemary just to kick up the flavor notes a bit. And for this, please, use good wine. It is the base for your fondue and Two Buck Chuck simply won’t measure up.

Once I had that recipe planned I simply had to come up with some dipping options and the rest of the board unfolded from there. Cubed rosemary bread, smoked apple sausages, potato chips, crisp green apples, roasted baby potatoes. I also decided to make a roasted squash dip loaded with honey and goat cheese (so now we have both a sweet and savory dipping element). For that I bought some pretzels, crème fraiche onion crackers, gingerbread crackers, and roasted some carrots for dipping. I also made some simple maple roasted almonds with sea salt and rosemary. After that, all that was left was to fill in space with some other fun elements; dried apricots, a few wedges of cheese, rosemary uncured ham (my favorite), Jamon Serrano, Cara Cara oranges, pomegranate, pears, and persimmons.

When setting up a cheese board I don’t have any rules I follow. I simply try to provide a nice array of flavors and textures to keep things interesting. But for those of you who like tips here are a few:

  • Salty and sweet, have a bit of both
  • Select a blend of hard and soft cheeses
  • Always have some sort of a dip or spread
  • Include some of fresh seasonal fruit and/or vegetables
  • Make a few things yourself, and buy the rest (saves time and sanity)
  • Use a favorite food or recipe as the inspiration for your board and let it unfold from there
  • Make sure to have some crackers or bread that goes with everything
  • Herbs like rosemary add a nice pop of color to a spread like this
  • Pair it with good wine!

Cheese or Charcuterie boards are one of my favorite things to put together and eat! It’s seriously a dream meal for me. Do you ever put these together? If so, what are some of your favorite elements to include?

Also, I want to wish everyone out there reading this a Happy New Year. I hope 2019 holds countless wonderful moments and experiences for you!


Winter Cheese Board

For the Roasted Squash Dip with Goat Cheese

Ingredients

Makes about 3 cups

  • 2 ½ cups roasted squash (I roasted a whole 2 lb. squash) +olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. sage fried in 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 5 oz. goat cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. orange zest
  • ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
    1. To roast the squash preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Slice squash in half lengthwise and scoop out pulp and seeds.
    3. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake for about an hour until soft and tender. Let cool before scooping out your 2 ½ cups.
    4. To make the sage simply mince sage and sauté over low heat in 1 tbsp. unsalted butter for 1-2 minutes. I find it’s much more flavorful and fragrant this way, rather than using raw.
    5. To make the dip simply combine the squash, sage, goat cheese, olive oil, nutmeg, honey, orange zest, salt and pepper in a blender of food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.

For the Sweet and Spicy Rosemary Almonds

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unsalted almonds
  • 2 Tbsp. Maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. minced rosemary
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. cardamom
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until well combined.
  3. Spread out on baking sheet in an even layer and bake for about 15 minutes, tossing every five minutes.
  4. Let cool for about 10 minutes before enjoying!

Garlic Rosemary Fondue

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp. finely grated garlic*
  • 1 tsp. very finely minced rosemary
  • 1 cup Austerity Chardonnay
  • 1 lb. grated cheese (I used Raclette and a Cheddar/Gruyere combo)
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Fresh cracked black pepper, optional

*Preferably zest it with a microplane. You don’t want garlic chunks in your fondue.

  1. Melt butter over medium low heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
  2. Add garlic and rosemary sauté 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn.
  3. Add in wine and heat until just before it reaches a simmer.
  4. Toss grated cheese in cornstarch and add in small handfuls to the wine. Stirring continuously to melt evenly. You’ll want to stir anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes until your fondue is smooth and lump free.
  5. Then add in lemon, nutmeg, and salt.
  6. Immediately transfer to a fondue pot over a flame or into ramekins warmed in the oven. I did the latter and it worked just fine. It’s also a good method for individual servings!

Ideas for fondue dipping:

  • Apple slices
  • Smoked sausages
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Potato chips
  • Pretzels
  • Cubed bread, like sourdough
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Broccoli
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