A board I’ll never get bored of


… the cheese board.

My favorite thing to make in the kitchen right now.

This one has my favorite cheese, tortas, artichoke salad, sliced, cured meat, a bowl of Kalamata and black Spanish olives.

I’m probably not the only one who finds it mildy annoying when Ina Garten says on her show and in her cookbooks to use good this and good that. But, I have to side with her, especially when it comes to cheese board. The ingredients are bare. You can’t hide so-so quality with a sauce or spices.

So, let’s start with the cheese. I know very little about cheese, but Cowgirl Creamery is a producer that I fell in love with in San Francisco and you really can’t go wrong with any of its stuff. I have found that having a favorite cheese and knowing a few facts about said cheese makes your friends thing you are a cheese genius (a chee-nius?). This is my go-to cheese, and it can be yours, too:

This is a highly likable puck of cheese, soft and creamy and a bit barn-y in flavor. If you don’t like it, we probably cannot be friends.

On to crackers. God bless Bloomingfoods, our town’s version of Whole Foods, but your selection of crackers is miserable. Desperate for an alternative cheese vehicle, I found these packaged tortas among the bread selection and decided to give them a whirl.

When I opened the package to find that each of the tortas were individually wrapped, I melted a little. I’m such a sucker for packaging. Tortas have the texture of crispy flatbread, and this variety had a sweetness to them that was probably a little unusual for a cheese board. But I liked the unexpected flavor.

When I have a few extra minutes to pull together a cheese board, I like to make this artichoke dip, whose recipe has no measurements — just add ingredients to taste. Drain a can of whole or quartered artichoke hearts. Go ahead a splurge on the can that is $1 more. I find that when I try to cheap out on artichokes, the outer layers are tough, not tender.

Rough chop the artichokes, then add chopped basil, freshly-grated Parmesan, zest of half a lemon, and freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Give it a stir, and you’re done.

So easy. So good.

You know what else is delicious? Substituting white beans for the artichokes. Mash the beans a bit with a fork so that all of the ingredients have something to stick to.

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