Building a gourmet menu doesn't mean that you'll have to spend hours in the kitchen preparing before guests arrive. By keeping the menu simple and focused on the foods and flavors that are perfectly in season, you can showcase what makes the season special without sacrificing time spent with your guests.
Plan on serving at least four dishes: a salad, a side, a main dish and a dessert. A green salad topped with rich blue cheese and herb dressing is a wonderful, fresh start to the meal. Follow it with a side dish of seasonal vegetables and cheese-topped steak. Depending on the vegetable you choose, it's possible to prepare both your side and main dishes on the grill, allowing you to spend more time outside with your guests. Complete the meal with a sweet treat of ripe fruits - baked into a rustic French galette or tossed with fresh mint as a topping for a light sorbet.
When it comes to the ingredients you'll use, take a sustainable approach by visiting local farmers markets or your own garden plot, if you have one. It's important to remember that ingredients other than vegetables can still be sustainable and environmentally friendly. Blue cheese varieties from Salemville, for instance, are rBGH free, contain no preservatives or chemical additives, and are sustainably produced by an Amish community in Cambria, Wis., where cows are hand-milked twice daily without the use of machines or electricity. And since steak is the perfect main dish for a grilling get-together, look for steaks with labels with identifying information, letting you know that it is grass-fed or pasture-raised.
Try these recipes for your salad and steak courses and you'll be preparing sustainable dishes that perfectly capture the essence of good entertaining. For more recipes and grilling tips, visit www.salemville.com.
Blue Cheese Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/4 cup skim milk
1/2 cup green onions (including green tops), thinly sliced
1/4 cup Salemville Amish Blue or Salemville Smokehaus Blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 clove garlic, pressed
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon rosemary, crushed
Dash salt, to taste
1 large head iceberg lettuce
6 slices thick-cut bacon
1 cup Salemville Amish Blue or Salemville Smokehaus Blue cheese, crumbled
Black pepper, to taste
Chopped pears, walnuts, red onion and/or tomatoes, to taste
In small bowl, stir together yogurt and milk. Mix in onions, cheese, garlic, herbs and salt. Cover and chill 30 minutes or more to blend flavors.
Cook bacon until crisp and crumble into large pieces. Cut lettuce into four to six wedges. Pour blue cheese dressing over the top. Sprinkle bacon over dressing. Add additional crumbled cheese, freshly ground black pepper, chopped pears, walnuts, red onion and/or tomatoes, if desired. Makes four servings.
Steak with Gorgonzola Thyme Crust
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 beef tenderloin or small rib eye steaks (about 6 ounces each), cut 3/4-inch thick
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup Salemville Amish Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
Preheat broiler. Spoon Worcestershire sauce over both sides of the steaks and let stand five minutes. Sprinkle garlic and pepper over steaks.
Place steaks on rack or broiler pan. Broil 3 to 4 inches from heat source three to four minutes per side for medium rare steak.
Remove pan from broiler. Sprinkle thyme, then cheese over steaks. Return to oven and broil two minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown.