SPRING is the perfect time to entertain at home. So, dust off the outdoor setting, bring out the barbecue tongs and set your sights on cheese. Whether it's a last minute platter, a salad to impress or just a few nibbles with drinks, cheese is your ultimate spring entertaining partner - indoors and out.
"Don't let the start of the entertaining season throw you into a panic. A couple of choice ingredients and clever tricks is all you need to gain foodie cred in a flash," said Amanda Menegazzo from The Dairy Kitchen. "A bottle of bubbly and some gourmet crackers are great entertaining staples, but if there's one must-have ingredient to keep on hand for spring entertaining, it's Australian cheese!"
Cheese is versatile, delicious and nutritious too. Whip blue cheese and chives into butter to melt onto cooked steaks at your next BBQ or sprinkle shaved parmesan and basil over new season asparagus for a fabulous side or you can even top slices of toasted baguette with marinated feta and roasted capsicum for a quick nibble.
Or, to really impress, serve up The Dairy Kitchen's Baked Brie with maple bacon and onion jam. Warm, cheesy and delicious, this crowd-pleasing recipe couldn't be more on trend or deceptively simple. Prepare the quick onion and bacon jam in advance and then simply top the brie and put it in the oven when guests arrive.
Or why not add these quick salads to your repertoire. The roast chicken, brie and nectarine complement each other beautifully while marinated persian-style feta gives the watermelon salad a fresh twist.
"If all else fails, take a box of crackers, a wedge of Australian cheese and a piece of seasonal fruit. A quick cheese board is sometimes all you need to satisfy every taste bud around the table," said Ms Menegazzo.
Baked brie with maple bacon and onion jam
2 rashers streaky bacon, cut into strips
1 large brown onion, thinly sliced
2 tbs maple syrup
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 sprig fresh thyme
½ tsp yellow mustard seeds
200-250g round brie or camembert
Preheat oven to 180˚C (160˚C fan forced).
Heat a frypan over medium-high heat and fry bacon until crispy.
Add onions and fry for 5 minutes, stirring often until softened and slightly caramelised.
Stir in maple syrup, vinegar, thyme and mustard seeds and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until liquid has reduced and mixture is sticky.
Place brie on a small piece of baking paper on a baking tray or on an ovenproof serving plate.
Top evenly with jam and bake for 15-20 minutes or until brie is warmed through.
Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving with slices of toasted bread.
To make this recipe even quicker: pan-fry the bacon until crispy and stir through store bought caramelised onion jam. Pour over cheese and bake as per recipe.
It's important to use a whole wheel of camembert or brie, rather than a wedge as it needs the rind to hold in the melted creamy interior.
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