Serving cheese for outdoor entertaining may bring to mind several favorite options, but serving the right cheese does make a difference this time of year. You don’t want to feel weighed down by nibbling on too heavy a cheese in warm weather, or have a cheese that appears to be melting on your serving tray right before your eyes.

The solution is as easy as taking cheese out of its package. And, in this case, I’m offering a suggestion for serving an artesian handcrafted and slightly aged goat cheese. A distinct goat cheese, called Coupole. It is easily cut into wedges, making it an ideal way to serve in warmer and more humid weather.  

The Coupole is a fresh, young goat's milk cheese shaped like a small dome and lightly dusted with vegetable ash. It hails from the ambitious new Loire-Valley-style production facility at Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery which has been pioneering innovative dairy products for over 25 years. Their fresh chèvres, spreads, butters and fermented creams can be found in chef's kitchens across the country. As the Coupole ages, a slightly wrinkled skin develops, and the paste softens. This creamy, delightful goat's milk cheese is a wonderful addition to America's dairy products. One piece weighs approximately 8 ounces.

Goat cheese is an ideal lead-in to most summer foods which are on the lighter side and also pairs well served along side grilled fruit, grilled vegetables and grilled fish.   

Serve with quartered fresh figs and spiced nuts, or drizzled with honey for dessert. You may also go Genoa style by topping it with a freshly made pesto. If you really want to gild the lily, top with pesto & honey; a serving suggestion that was served to me from the master himself, Val Manning of Manning’s Food Emporium in Ballylickey, West Cork, Ireland.

Serve with summer beverages; lagers to wines such as sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc, or rose.

 image credit: Vermont Creamery

Home Opener Snack

Tuesday night is the Yanks home opener. So while the fans in the stands are enjoying Bazzini's nuts, you can bake a batch of my spiced nuts for the family. This recipe is easy to prepare and great to do ahead; it just requires about an hour to slowly roast. This is one of those treats that can be dressed up or down; and always receives a raised eyebrow of pleasant surprise. I've been told, "George I need to make double batches because my guests ate them all!"

Serve as elegant munchies, pre-dinner snacks or toss a few in a salad. Be creative; and go Yanks! Enjoy.

Spiced Nuts

recipe by Chef George Hirsch | Makes about 5 cups
from George Hirsch Living it UP! Cookbook, ©2000
1 pound unsalted pecan halves, almonds, cashews or walnuts
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water
2 teaspoons hot sauce or chipotle sauce
3/4 cup pure cane sugar
2 Tablespoons curry powder
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
Mix sugar, curry powder, and salt.  Heat oven to 250 degrees F. Arrange the pecans on a cookie sheet and toast, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the egg white and water until frothy. Stir in the pecans/ nuts and sprinkle with the sugar, hot sauce, chipotle sauce, curry powder, and salt. Mix well. Lightly coat the cookie sheet with vegetable cooking spray. Spread the pecans in a single layer on the sheet.
Bake 45 minutes- 1 hour or until the pecans are dry, stirring once or twice.
Cool, store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 month.