Month: February 2018
6 Ways to Make a Great Hot Chocolate
With a little way to go before Spring, our minds have turned to warming drinks to get us through the last of the cold days. You might have heard of the word ‘hygge’, which is the Danish idea of coziness and contentment. A hot chocolate is definitely a drink that has a hygge feel to it. Today we’re sharing our top tips for making your hot chocolate really sing.
1. Add toppings
There are the classics: marshmallows, cream, chocolate sprinkles. But you could also add cinnamon, sauces, nuts, marshmallow fluff, dried fruits, coconut shavings, or cereals. For extra decadence, try popping a chocolate truffle on the top and letting it melt in. You could even put a scoop of ice cream on the top for extra creaminess. If you add marshmallow fluff, try crisping it with a kitchen blow torch for a s’mores effect!
2. Add a syrup
There are so many syrups available now and loads of them would be delicious in a hot chocolate. Try classics like peppermint, salted caramel or vanilla. You could even try making your own syrups at home with your favorite flavors. We highly recommend trying a bay syrup with your hot chocolate for a grown up twist.
3. Find the best quality hot chocolate
We’re not talking about the powdered stuff in sachets. Get hot chocolate made with real chocolate and you will marvel at the difference. You can even grate chocolate into hot milk to create your ideal drink. Imagine crafting a drink that is essentially your favorite chocolate bar!
4. Try different milks
A hot chocolate made with milk instead of water is the height of luxury, but have you tried different milks? Non-dairy milks are becoming increasingly popular and taste great in hot chocolate. Our favorite is coconut milk which will give you the effect of a Mounds bar in a cup. Almond milk and soy milk also work well and they are a little lighter.
5. Add a glug of your favorite tipple
This is one for curling up on the sofa with your favorite book or movie at the end of the day. Make your usual hot chocolate and then add a little of your favorite spirit. Whiskey or brandy work well but our favorite would have to be Irish Cream. You could try flavored vodkas instead of syrup.
6. Share it with your favorite people
Cozy up with your friends and family and share a hot chocolate. Provide everything above so that you can customize them to your taste. Find your coziest blankets, put on a classic DVD and your warmest slippers and settle in for the night. You can even ask friends to bring over their favorite mug to enjoy their drink in.
We hope you enjoyed our tips to help you stay warm and cozy with hot chocolate. We love bringing a little hygge into our lives and we hope that you do too. How do you like your hot chocolate? Let us know in the comments!
How to Cater for Picky Eaters
We all know them: the people we truly love but who are extremely picky eaters. We’re not talking about people with genuine allergies or intolerances. Catering for them might be a challenge, but it should always be a joy to help people eat something that’s good for them. Today we’re talking about people who just have very specific tastes. When you’re planning a dinner party this can pose a challenge but we’re here to help. Read on to find our tips for catering for everyone at your table.
1. Serve a range of dishes
This almost goes without saying, but it’s the key to pleasing your guests. Serve a wide range of smaller dishes rather than one large dish. If you’re serving something spicy, make sure you have something milder to serve alongside it. Try serving some basic foods such as bread or rice with your dishes.
2. Put sauces and dressings on the side
Instead of dressing your salads or covering dishes in sauces, serve them on the side. This way your guests can make their own decisions about the flavors on their plates. Serve hot sauce for those who love things spicy and a cooling yogurt or mayo for those who like everything to be creamy. Put out dressings that work well with each element of your meal so that guests can mix and match.
3. Ask guests to bring dishes along
This is a great way to lessen the stress of entertaining, but it works especially well if you know you have guests with different needs. Ask them to bring along one of their favorite dishes and you’ll know that there’s at least one thing for everyone there.
4. Create dishes that encourage building your own meal
If you don’t want to serve a huge range of different dishes, try cooking something that can be different for everyone at the table. Tacos or burritos work well for this because guests can choose their own fillings. You could create a salad bar for your diners to choose from. You could serve a dish like raclette where the diners even get to cook their meals to their liking.
5. Make trying new things part of the fun
Of course, you want your guests to go away from your meal satisfied, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t encourage them to step slightly out of their comfort zone. Maybe start with an appetizer of unusual meats or cheeses, or even ask guests to bring along the most unusual ingredient that they can find for you all to sample.
6. Dish up a great dessert!
Almost no-one is fussy about dessert. Serve up a showstopper along with some basics like ice cream and chocolate truffles you’ll satisfy even the pickiest eaters. It’s all the last part of the evening, so they’ll remember your fabulous dessert even if the rest of the meal wasn’t so great for them.
Overall, try not to worry too much. Even if there is are picky eaters at your table they are there because they love you. All they really want is to enjoy your company, so enjoy theirs and don’t put too much pressure on making your meal a success.
How to Plan a Dinner Party
If you’re anything like us, you love throwing a dinner party!
Today we’re giving you our tips for hosting a fun soirée. If you’ve never cooked for a group, or you want to tackle a meal with several courses, read on to find out how to make it possible.
1. Plan your menu with plenty of time to spare
If you’re serving several courses then you’ll want to make sure that you plan ahead. Give yourself time to pick up all of your groceries. Try to plan so that you can make almost everything ahead of the party. You want to be able to spend time with your guests and enjoy their company instead of being stuck at the stove. If you can pre-make everything then you’ll just need to warm, finish and garnish your dishes on the night. Make sure that you check if your guests have any dietary requirements so that you can cater to them.
2. Enlist your guest’s help
Your guests are coming for a dinner party but they aren’t expecting you to do everything! Ask your guests to bring along a dish or a side. You could ask someone to bring the salad course or a side dish to go with your carefully selected main. If you’re happy to cook the food but need some help with the entertainment, you could ask a guest to bring along a board game or even create a quiz for you all to play.
3. Mix your guests up
Don’t be afraid to mix people from different parts of your life. Sometimes it’s easy to stick to the same group of friends or to only meet with family but it’s fun to host diverse groups who might not have met each other before. If you think your sister might get along famously with your colleague or you want your best friend to meet your partner’s best friend then get them together for a dinner party!
4. Plan drinks that add to the fun
Whilst a good bottle of wine on the table is great for a dinner party, you might want to start with a round of cocktails. You could even provide your guests with ingredients and start with a competition to make the best cocktails. If you can start with great drinks and encourage your guests to get to know each other then you have time to complete your last minute preparations.
5. Think about dishes and flatware
If you’re serving several courses, you need to make sure that you have enough dishes to serve all of them without frantically washing up between each course. You could get creative with smaller dishes like ramekins or large wooden boards for sharing courses if you don’t have enough traditional plates and bowls. You can also hire dishes to use for the occasion or even ask your guests to bring some along. The same goes for glasses. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but do check ahead of time so that you’re prepared.
Have we inspired you to plan a dinner party? Let us know what you’re planning in the comments!
How to Create 3 Different Baked Cheeses
We’re always looking for new ways to serve cheeses. A cheeseboard is great, but sometimes you want a showstopping centerpiece to kick off a meal. Enter the baked cheese!
Read on to find out about how to bake three different cheeses and start your next dinner party (or just a fun night in) with a bang.
Camembert is a surface-ripened cow’s milk cheese. It’s soft and creamy, with a pungent aroma. You’ll normally buy it in a wooden box. Start by unwrapping the cheese and making sure that any stickers have been removed. Replace it in its box. Make several cuts in the top of the cheese and add some garlic cloves and rosemary. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is gooey.
All you need to serve this are some slices of good bread, but you could also serve breadsticks and crudités. Gather everyone around and dip into the cheese. Don’t worry about the mess; it’s all part of the fun!
Whilst you can serve raclette cheese at the table using a tabletop grill, you can also easily bake it in the oven. Simply put your cheese into a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil and any flavorings that you want to add such as herbs, garlic or spices. Bake it at 400F for around 8 minutes or until it is golden and bubbling.
You can serve this right up at the table with bread, boiled potatoes, sliced veg, salads or seafood. You could even serve pasta or steak at the same time. Raclette will work well with almost anything that you can think of. Serve it with a fruity white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc to make a real dinner party impression.
You might not have thought to bake feta before, but it’s delicious!
Feta is a sheep’s milk cheese from Greece. It is submerged in brine with gives it a salty, tangy taste. One of the simplest ways to bake it is to place the whole block of feta on a baking sheet, drizzle over 1tbsp of olive oil and the juice of a lemon, along with 1 crushed garlic clove and 1tsp oregano. Grind some black pepper on the top and put it in the oven at 400F for 5 minutes. It will start to brown at the edges, but no more as then it will dry out.
You can serve this in the middle of the table with some bread or alongside a salad. It’s even great broken up and stirred into pasta. You can experiment with the herbs and spices you add – chili, oregano, thyme, and sumac all work fantastically, but you can find your favorites. Another great variation is to surround the feta with tomatoes so that they roast at the same time. Serve this with a salad and you’ve got a perfect lunch.
So, you now have three baked cheeses to try out. Let us know which ones you loved in the comments!
Our Top 10 Wines for Valentine’s Day
We know that you’re going to be trying to impress your loved ones this Valentine’s Day. We shared some of our great gift ideas last week, so today we’re sharing our top ten wines to serve on the day. We’ve looked for wines that will pair well with luxurious ingredients, fruity desserts, and chocolate. Whether you’re planning a romantic dinner, a day out or a simple drink, we’ve got you covered.
Of course, this had to be top of the list. Nothing says romance like bubbles and the pop of a cork. Pick something vintage if you really want to impress. Toast your special someone with the very best.
Pink is the perfect color for Valentine’s Day. Pick a fruity rosé with hints of strawberry to set the tone. The Mouton Noir Rosé Love Drunk from Oregon has the perfect name for such a loved up day. This is the wine to drink if you’re serving salads, pasta, or even sushi.
An alternative to champagne, crémant is also made in France and is starting to become really popular elsewhere. It has a creamy feel and small, moussey bubbles. It’s great with seafood.
If you’re picking up a red wine, it’s best to go for something fruity and delicious that you can fall in love with. That’s why we recommend a grenache as it’s full-bodied as well as flavorful. It’s perfect with spicy foods or rich, meaty dishes.
5. Sparkling rosé
Combine two of our favorites and sip on a sparkling rosé! This is perfect if it’s cold where you are and you need something to remind you of summer. Sparkling rosé is great with smoked salmon and soft cheeses.
Serve up something sweet with this dessert wine originating from France. The honey and raisin flavors sit perfectly with creamy desserts and you can even pour it over ice cream.
If you’re looking for an after-dinner drink with a little less sweetness, pick a port. If you’re new to it, try a tawny port as it won’t be too rich. You can sip this alongside chocolate or salted caramel.
8. Sparkling Red
You might not have tried a sparkling red wine before, but trust us when we say that they really are a treat. You’ll get the wonderful fizz of champagne with a light fruitiness. This is perfect if you and your partner usually differ in your wine tastes. There are several great ones from California and they pair brilliantly with chocolate.
9. Sauvignon Blanc
If you want to serve a more recognizable wine, a sauvignon blanc will pair well with the fruity flavors of many Valentine’s foods. Serve it with a plate of oysters for extra indulgence.
10. Something local
If you’re looking to show your wine knowledge, choose something local to you. Head to a winery in your area and ask them to help you pick something out. Your date will be head over heels after learning that you went to so much effort.
Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us here at Shisler’s Cheese House! Cheers!
5 Ways to Make Your Mac and Cheese Sensational
Today we’re sharing our favorite mac and cheese ideas. It’s one of the nation’s favorite foods, and for a good reason. Ooey, gooey cheese combined with delicious pasta make a comforting dish that can serve as an entree or a side.
As cheese lovers, we certainly know our way around mac and cheese. Read on to find out our top ideas for making it extra special.
1. Combine cheeses
You probably always use the same cheese when you make mac and cheese. Try something different to add new flavors and even more cheesiness. Some of our favorites to add are gruyere, for added nutty flavor, and mozzarella, for that extra melty goodness. You could also try bacon cheese or some of our spicy cheeses like hot habanero cheddar.
2. Add a topping
You might always sprinkle cheese on top, for those cripsy melted edges, but there are other ways to top your mac and cheese. Breadcrumbs, or even crushed up chips, can add another dimension to the dish. Crumbled up bacon will add saltiness and crunch. Toasted pumpkin seeds add a smoky element. Sliced chives or green onions will give your dish freshness. You can be creative with your toppings and find your family’s favorites.
3. Extra ingredients
You might have seen restaurants serving lobster or truffle mac and cheese. These are certainly decadent treats, but you don’t have to splash out to improve your mac and cheese at home. If you want to get more vegetables into your diet, try adding steamed asparagus, roasted squash or pumpkin, spinach or leafy greens. You can even stir pureed cauliflower or broccoli through your sauce to pack in some extra nutrients.
Seafood can work well, but it doesn’t have to be lobster. Crab meat and prawns are excellent stirred into a mac and cheese, but you could also add mussels on top.
Bacon, sausages, chorizo, bologna, and ham can add flavor and texture. You could even add chicken for more protein.
Spices are great for changing the flavor of your mac and cheese. Chilli and herbs are the classics, but horseradish can give it a great kick. You could even stir some pesto in for that Italian flavor!
4. Use sauces and condiments
Hot sauce, BBQ sauce, pickles and ketchup are all great toppings for your mac and cheese. Load up the table with different sauces and everyone can personalize their dish to their taste.
5. Really make the effort with the sauce
You might have never made a cheese sauce before, but it couldn’t be more simple. Trust us! All you’ll need is butter, flour, milk, cheese, salt, and pepper. Once you’ve made a sauce from scratch you won’t go back, and everyone will be clamoring for your recipe.
So, there you have it. Five ways to make your mac and cheese truly sensational. Which one will you try? How do you like to make mac and cheese? Let us know in the comments!
Show Your Love This Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and it’s time to start preparing to show your loved ones your affection.
We’ve created two fabulous gift boxes that are sure to hit the right note on February 14th.
Our Valentine’s Day All Chocolate Gift Box is perfect for those with a sweet tooth. Inside you’ll find a Heggy’s Solid Milk Chocolate Heart, Chocolate Cheese, Heggy’s Milk Chocolate Turtles, and two kinds of chocolate covered fruit!
With this much chocolate packed in, your loved ones will be thinking of you for a long time.
For inspiration on how to use the chocolate cheese, check out our recent blog post.
Our Valentine’s Day Gift Box combines some of our favorite treats. Inside you’ll find Havarti Cheese, a Heggy’s Milk Chocolate Heart, Strawberry Cheesecake Swirl Fudge, Strawberry Caramel Creams and Yogurt Covered Cranberries.
This is the ideal gift if you’re preparing a special dinner and want to have cheese and sweet treats to complete the evening.
If you want to serve up some wine along with your gift boxes, you have several options.
To complement the Havarti Cheese, a merlot or chardonnay would both work well. Havarti is a semi-soft Danish cow’s milk cheese with a buttery aroma and a sweet, sometimes nutty, taste. These wines will complement the flavors whilst matching its smooth texture.
If you want to pair wine with the chocolate, you need to find something that is slightly sweeter. A dessert wine such as Moscato or Sauternes is ideal for this. For something lighter, try a sweet Riesling. This will also work well with the Strawberry and Cream flavor
Whether you’re a new couple or celebrating years of marriage, Valentine’s Day is the time to take a moment to appreciate those that we love.
We don’t want to be too cheesy (!), but we love all of our Shisler’s Cheese House customers! Happy Valentine’s Day!
How to Shop For Cheese
You might be looking at the title thinking that you know how to go into a shop and grab some cheese… right?
But we are talking about how to shop for cheese and get the best experience possible. Today we’re going to share some tips to expand your cheese horizons.
1. Get to know your cheesemonger
When you pop into Shisler’s Cheese House, we’re always on hand to chat about cheese. We’ll help you find exactly what you need for that special occasion, pick the selection that will form the perfect cheeseboard, or show you the new cheeses that we have in stock.
If you’re shopping online you can still get in touch via our Facebook page or contact form.
2. Try cheeses made from different milk
You might always buy cow’s milk cheese and be missing out on sheep’s and goat’s milk cheeses. Try a variety of cheese and then you’ll always be able to buy your favorites. Trying different cheeses also means that you can eliminate the ones that you don’t like, which is just as important as finding the ones that you love.
3. Try different textures of cheese
You might always buy a hard cheese because you want it for sandwiches, but a soft or semi-soft cheese might be perfect for your party. Try all of the textures and you’ll find the ones for you.
4. Try cheeses from different countries
We have a huge range of imported cheeses ready for you to try. They’re sure to impress at a dinner party and you’ll be able to try out some new recipes.
5. Keep loving local cheeses
It’s great to try something imported, but there’s nothing like the taste of cheese that you know was made just a few miles down the road. You’ll be supporting local businesses and enjoying food with lower air miles.
6. Try different food pairings
Sometimes we decide that we don’t like a cheese, only to discover later that we like it with the right accompaniments. Don’t waste time finding this out later; try cheeses with different foods right away. Fruits, vegetables, pickles, and sauces can all change the flavor of cheeses. Ask us for recommendations to help you find the right combinations.
7. Try different drinks pairings
Just as trying cheeses with different foods can change your opinion of them, so can different drinks. Try a cheese with a recommended wine pairing to bring out its flavor. You might even find that a beer, whiskey or soft drink is the best pairing you. As always, experiment with flavors to get the most out of your cheese.
8. Don’t be afraid!
It can seem complicated or daunting to try new cheeses, especially if they’re really distinctive or new to you! But don’t be afraid, we are here to help. Even if you’ve always gone for the same cheese, you can become a cheese connoisseur in no time at all!
We hope that you’ve enjoyed our cheese shopping tips and now you’ll feel confident when you shop for cheese. Pop in and see us soon to try them out!