To celebrate National Wine & Cheese Day on July 25th, we sat down with Chef Mel AKA The Happy Chef to learn some simple ways to observe this fun day! The Happy Chef is known for her easy kitchen tricks that make preparing food more fun, carefree, and sexy, even for those of us on a budget. What’s not to love?
“Cheap and easy are my two favorite things, especially because I know how to make them not look cheap!” Chef Mel says.
Let’s dive into the wonderful world of cheese with The Happy Chef’s charismatic and playful cooking expertise! Read to the end if you want to learn about the coolest hot trend, culinary quickies.
The Ultimate Cheese Board
The Happy Chef had some opening tips about crackers, as they are the obvious accompaniment to cheese — with wine coming in as the elegant and essential accessory of course.
“When we are making a cheese platter or even with dips and cheeses, we can actually match the crackers to whatever cheese we are making,” The Happy Chef divulged. “For example, if we use very inexpensive lahvosh crackers — I call them Bespoke Culinary Bark, because that sounds more chefy and more expensive than ‘crackers’ — we might want to pair them with a beautiful quickie-baked camembert or brie fondue.”
Chef Mel jokes that ‘we are expecting a round of applause’ if we go so far as to make our own crackers. The exciting part? Making our own lahvosh crackers is cheaper than buying them, plus they are super fast and easy to make. Chef Mel shares that we can even add a little bit of activated charcoal to the recipe, creating an ultra-luxurious looking cracker on a dime! For the full Bespoke Culinary Bark with Baked Brie Fondue recipe, check out The Happy Chef YouTube channel.
Pro Tip: If you’ve ever wasted crackers because somebody left the bag open, you can put them in your oven at 356 °F for about five to seven minutes until they go crisp again. “I call it #FakeFresh,” Mel winked. “You can do the same thing with a day-old baguette, just make sure you flick some tap water onto it with your fingers first.”
“A big mistake that a lot of people make is if you whip the cheese straight out of the fridge and serve it, you are not doing the cheese any favors,” explained Mel. “Often people blame the cheese for not being good quality, but if we bring that to room temperature it will eat ten bucks more expensive. Now, I can’t help you if you buy the cheap crappy cheeses that taste like plastic — we can’t do anything about that. But those beautiful quality cheeses are much better served at room temperature.”
One of many of our favorite hallmark Happy Chef phrases is culinary bling! (I mean seriously, how cool is she?)
“Culinary bling is anything that looks pretty and adds a little bit of flavor, it’s like dressing up your food,” Chef explains. “Think crushed black restaurant-style pepper, chunky salt flakes, even marigold or snapdragon petals. You can add so much personality and glamor to any basic dish by adding your culinary bling!”
Now that our mouths are watering, we’re ready to create our own cheese boards, complete with homemade crackers and blinged-up cheeses. If you want more recipes, be sure to check out The Happy Chef’s Culinary Quickies cookbook, available on Amazon.
About Chef Mel
Chef Mel, aka The Happy Chef, works to teach new and seasoned chefs and cooks how to be happy in their kitchens again by cooking with passion and love. Her cookbook, Culinary Quickies, won the International Book Award and was a top finalist in the United States. To learn more about Chef Mel, please visit www.chefmel.me