Plank Grilling with Cheese

planked cheeseI’m a big fan of plank grilling, I love the subtle smoky flavor that the different woods infuse. I’ve planked salmon and other fish many times, also scallops and portobello’s but never tried cheese, until now. Wow, have I been missing out! I have to say this is a spectacular appetizer, just open up a few bottles of wine and let the party begin! This would be perfect to start off your Memorial Day weekend BBQ’s.
outdoor gourmet Whatever flavor board you decide to use just make sure you soak them really good, I went with cedar and maple since I wanted to do a a sweet and savory version. Make sure you anchor the boards under the water, I soaked mine for 3 hours and I never got a flare up thanks to Outdoor Gourmet, they have great products! Brun-uusto cheese I had every intention of using some sort of an Italian cheese for my first try, I already knew that a wheel of Brie would work but I was afraid I might have puddles of cheese dripping down the board. I wanted a cheese that was a little more sturdier so I asked my cheesemonger who gave me quite a few suggestions one being a special romano, but then he insisted I try this Brun-Uusto cheese from Brunkow Cheese in Wisconsin. It’s known as a “bread cheese” because the crust on the cheese is similar to toasted bread. He just went on and on how good it was, and he was right!

If you can’t find this cheese in your area you might want to try a halumi type, but if you live in the Chicagoland area this cheese will be available at Whole Foods, Standard Market, farmers markets and possibly Trader Joe’s, although I can’t confirm that.

It’s meant to be eaten warm and is delicious with sweet or savory toppings.

 I purchased everything so it was easy to put together, I bought a jar of sour cherry preserves for the sweet topping and for the savory I picked up a container of sundried tomatoes that were tossed in olive oil, garlic, oregano and capers. I toasted a loaf of crusty bread and bought assorted crackers and a brioche toast.planked cheese with tomatoes This cheese melts perfectly, it doesn’t ooze out all over it stays contained but yet it’s still creamy and soft with a nutty flavor and the cedar infusion takes it over the top!  Crusty toasty bread, warm creamy cheese plus savory tomatoes makes this a match made in heaven! For the sweet version I used a maple board which added a delicate smoky flavor to the warm cheese.

 The sour cherry topping combined with the nutty warm cheese spread on brioche toast was truly amazing! I think this was my favorite!

I hope I inspired you to plank some cheese.   Happy Grilling!



There’s a new dining spot in town and it’s called Bakersfield! Located in Westmont,Il. and created by the same folks that recently launched Standard Market, which happens to be directly across the street.
Recently I was invited to attend their soft opening.
Upon arrival I noticed the outdoor patio complete with a fire pit, fire place and a long communal table on one end. The day we were there it was cool and rainy out but soon it will be a great space to meet up with friends and dine al’fresco.
 Inside the restaurant the feeling is very contemporary and casual, with plenty of light and a welcoming bar area.
The kitchen is an open concept which I love, there’s something about seeing the hustle and bustle that goes on in there. Close and upfront seating is available where you can see the chefs in action preparing your food, I might have to get a seat there next time!
A beautiful floor to ceiling glass wine room situated in the main dining room.
The menu has something for everyone, meat lovers, fish lovers, vegetarians and those who just want to indulge!
We were a party of four and started by ordering three appetizers, the first one being the Housemade Guacamole, very fresh, with lots of lime and cilantro flavor throughout.
Next, we ordered the Crispy Thai Shrimp with a mango slaw that had just the right amount of heat, loved it!
Seared Beef and Goat Cheese on sushi rice, I could have made a meal out of that alone, so good!
I came with some serious meat eaters that day, in fact this family member of mine loves steak, she ordered the 72 HR Marinated Wood-Fired Cajun Ribeye. Her exact quote was, “I’m a real steak person and this is one of the best steaks I’ve had!” My husband had the same thing so of course I tasted it and it was like buttah! My only recommendation would be just a little more heat in your cajun spice.

Check out that Loaded Baked Potato! We shuttered at the thought of the calories and WW points!

The ribs were fall off the bone finger licking good!
Me, I ordered the Knuckle Sandwich, a buttery toasty roll stuffed with Maine lobster.
I’m glad everyone else was too busy eating because I didn’t want to share it with anyone! I will order this again.
I was a little disappointed when dessert time came around because as we were eating our dinners we kept seeing this very tempting Double Nut Brownie concoction going around and diners next to us told us we had to get it along with the Tres Leches Cake, unfortunately they ran out of both and the only dessert left was the Fried Oreos with vanilla custard, chocolate sauce and ice cream.
Now honestly, I didn’t think that would be something I would ever order… Boy was I wrong!

Open for business now, visit Bakersfield for some exceptional food!


Standard Market, Westmont

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to tour the new Standard Market that opened up in
 Westmont, IL, a suburb of Chicago. The minute you walk in you’re greeted by colorful, fresh produce everywhere, you just know you’re going to have a good shopping adventure here.
I have to admit I’d been to Standard Market five times already before the tour and was very happy with all the goodies that I purchased, so much so that I went back for more! The building is huge, a contemporary farmhouse feel with various departments throughout. They pride themselves on providing many local products to their customers.
They recently opened up a coffee bar within the store that features Intelligentsia Coffee. I sampled it brewed from a Chemex, a very pure method of brewing.
If you don’t feel like cooking, take home some Chicken Vesuvio from the hot foods station, complete with potatoes and peas all for under ten dollars!
The wine, beer and cheese department contains over 500 wines, including 150 selections under $15. More than 150 cheeses and 150 beers from around the world, with a strong focus on American artisanal offerings.
I love the bakery, over thirty five varieties of artisan breads, everything made in house from scratch, the perfect place to pick up something for a special occasion or just to satisfy your sweet tooth.
 Don’t leave without grabbing the coconut cake, either a slice or the whole thing, with passion fruit on the side. To die for!
The deli offers chef inspired prepared foods as well as the classics, olives and high quality deli meats.
Samples from the butcher shop!
Their meat department is phenomenal, everything I tried so far I loved, this is where I got my tomahawk pork chops I featured in this post.
The fish market offers fresh whole fish and seafood that is flown in daily from around the world, already tried several things, I just love their salmon.  Fish is available whole or in fillets, all cut down on site, there’s even a sushi station.
This is some good coffee!
I’m so grateful to be able to buy good quality fresh pasta, all made in house. Check out the price! I’ve bought the lasagna sheets twice already and used them in my post on Little Lasangas.
Also there’s a wide variety of  homemade soups and sauces available, you won’t be finding
Campbell Soup here anywhere!
Standard Grill offers lunch and dinner daily.

If your in the chicagoland area I highly recommend a visit to Standard Market, a welcomed fresh approach to food shopping. Credit only, no cash!
Standard Market and Grill
333 East Ogden Avenue