While I don’t have a ton of things in my life that are consistent from year to year, there is always—and I mean always—a cheese party.

This weekend marked my sixth time attending Mark and Johnna’s soiree. I’ve been documenting the party and menu on the blog for the last four years (2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012). Sadly 2011 and 2010 live only in memory, as it was before Things I Made Today was born.

Speaking of being born, this party has been going on for so long that we now have a new wave of cheese party attendees under the age of 3, and more to come. That’s why it’s even more important to know that we’ve all now accepted cheeses into our lives (thank you Dan), and we’ll be setting a good example for the next generation.

Mark and Johnna's Annual Cheese Party 2016 | Things I Made Today

I say it every year, but it has to be said again. This cheese party has rules:

  • There will be courses. Chefs are assigned ahead of time. No one else is allowed to bring food (wine is welcome).
  • Each course must use cheese as one of it’s main ingredients.
  • The entire course must be finished before moving on to the next course.

The cheese party of 2012 will forever live in history as the year we needed to take a break and do some cardio in order to proceed. We’ve tweaked portion sizes and assignments since then, and now we’ve upped our game that everyone feels the need to practice their dish a couple times the week leading up to the party, just to make sure it’s on par. Everything this year was perfection.

So with that, here’s the menu from this year.

Amuse-bouche

Mark and Johnna's Annual Cheese Party 2016 | Things I Made Today

Caprese crostini with tomato, mozzarella, balsamic reduction and basil oil. Made by Anthony. 

Appetizer #1

Mark and Johnna's Annual Cheese Party 2016 | Things I Made Today

Jalapeño corn bread poppers with habanero infused honey. Made by Andrew and Emily.

Appetizer #2

Mark and Johnna's Annual Cheese Party 2016 | Things I Made Today

Sweet potato goat cheese empanadas with adobo dipping sauce. Made by Anthony.

Salad

Mark and Johnna's Annual Cheese Party 2016 | Things I Made Today

Plum, prosciutto, and burrata salad over arugula and rye croutons with jalapeño vinaigrette dressing. Made by Jason and I (recipe coming later this week).

Soup

Mark and Johnna's Annual Cheese Party 2016 | Things I Made Today

Caramelized pear and bleu cheese soup with bleu cheese crumbles. Made by Mark and Marissa.

First Course

Mark and Johnna's Annual Cheese Party 2016 | Things I Made Today

Ricotta and asiago gnocchi with browned butter and mascarpone cheese sauce. Made by Mark.

Second Course

Mark and Johnna's Annual Cheese Party 2016 | Things I Made Today

Flank steak pinwheels with oregano pesto and provolone, and pinwheels with roasted red pepper and garlic puree and pepper-jack cheese. Made by Dan.

Cheese Course

Mark and Johnna's Annual Cheese Party 2016 | Things I Made Today

Cheese plate with Bleu Mont Cave Aged Cheddar, French Tomme Crayeuse, Rother Cellar Private Reserve, Driftless Lavender and Honey Sheep’s Milk, organic raw honey, dried cranberries, and almonds. Made by Anne.

Dessert #1

Mark and Johnna's Annual Cheese Party 2016 | Things I Made Today

Limoncello ladyfingers with lemon mascarpone cream, strawberries, and mint. Made by Johnna.

Dessert #2

Mark and Johnna's Annual Cheese Party 2016 | Things I Made Today

Cream cheese salted caramel marshmallows dipped in chocolate with graham crumbs. Made by Johnna.

I am writing this post after spending the last six hours eating.

Not just eating, but eating dishes made primarily of cheese. It was our annual cheese party, so more on that and all the delicious things we ate to come. But in the meantime, I’m looking at photos of food and recipes and thinking about how it’s unlikely that I’ll ever eat again.

Farmer's Market & CSA Series {Week 15} | Things I Made Today

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One of the main reasons I signed up for a CSA three fateful years ago was to branch out and try new ingredients.

This was how I discovered that kohlrabi and I, while not mortal enemies like we were during year one, will never be best friends. It’s where I learned that although I like most vegetables, sunchokes are just really, really not my thing. There have been lots of positive experiences too: I can make patty pan squash taste good in anything and garlic scapes literally make me dance in excitement when I get them.

Dragon Tongue Beans with Pancetta and Mushrooms | Things I Made Today

Last week my CSA basket brought me dragon tongue beans. I’ve seen these beans at the market quite frequently, but have never cooked them myself. Other than having a truly fantastic name, dragon tongue beans have these beautiful purple streaks on their pods.
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