So you’re having your girlfriend’s parents over for dinner, but your cooking skills range anywhere between nonexistent to setting a pot of boiling water on fire. You don’t want to get takeout since it’ll show a lack of effort, but you’re also scared of donning an apron and giving Gordon Ramsay another vein on his forehead. Don’t worry, we’re here to help a brother out. Bro-bette’s Feast will help you turn that pathetic kitchenette into a battle-ready Bro-missary, and give you the basic know-how to impress even Bro-seidon, God of the Bro-cean.
Since this will be your first foray into the kitchen since that time you tried to be Jim from American Pie, we’ll start you off small with a cheese platter. Why a cheese platter you say? Because you don’t have to cook anything and it’ll buy you enough time to prepare the actual meal, so read up and take notes so that your amuse-bouche doesn’t turn into an amuse-douche.
To make a basic cheese platter, you’ll need at least three kinds of cheese (soft, medium, and hard), crackers, some fruit, and some veg. You’ll also need basic equipment like a knife, a chopping board, a bowl, and a whisk.
Here’s a list of things you’ll need to buy or borrow from your family kitchen.
- Knife: get a decent sized Chef’s Knife; around 8-10 inches should do it.
- Chopping board: pores on a chopping board are bad, so get a nice and thick plastic one.
- Bowl: You’ve probably got a few bowls lying around, so pick your “nicest” looking one.
- Large bowl: We’ll be making the dip in this thing. Material doesn’t matter as long as it’s big enough for you to work with.
- Wooden chopping board: We’ll be serving the food on this, so get a big one.
You’d normally want Brie or Camembert in this spot, but at Php 200 per 120 g. piece, it’s hardly something you’d want to spend on for something the average eater skips over. If you’re in the mood for a bit of penny-pinching, a cheese dip would do nicely. Arla’s Natural Cream cheese is fairly cheap at Php 95 per 150 g., and you can make a nice dip out of this by chopping it up and mixing it with a tablespoon of Cheez Whiz, a bit of grated garlic, and a dash of Italian Seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste, and spoon it into your best-looking bowl, then place that bowl on top of a clean wooden chopping board.
Pogi points: Sprinkle a bit of the italian herb on top of the dip to make it look like you know what you’re doing.
With the recent influx of relatively cheap cheeses from America and Europe, you can actually afford to spend a bit more and get two medium cheeses. California Monterey Jack offers a milder flavor for Php 146 pesos per 190 g., which can be paired with a saltier, yet cheaper (Php 85 for 165 g.) Kraft Cheddar. Dice these bad boys up and pile ‘em high on a wooden chopping board, right next to the bowl of cheese dip.
Pogi points: Grab a bunch of seedless red grapes and skewer it with a toothpick, followed by one cube of each cheese. Remember that scene in Ratatouille? Yeah, that’s what you’re trying to go for here.
A block of parmesan will set you back at least Php 150 pesos for 190 g., a bit pricey, but it’s worth the splurge. If not, you can also opt to recycle some of that old Quezo de Bola from last year’s Noche Buena. You can opt to cut these up into small cubes, like the medium cheese, or if you have a nice peeler, you can try your hand at peeling off strips.
Pogi points: You can opt to add a “wild card” like Bleu Cheese to the list. It’s a bit of an acquired taste, but if you’re up for it, Emborg has a nice Danablu for Php 147 per 100 g.. All you have to do is take it out of the packaging and plant it beside the hard cheese.
If you’re feeling fancy and are able to find it, Carr’s Table Water Crackers are a great bet, but if you’re not, then Fita or Ritz will do just as well.
Pogi points: Variety is the spice of life, so offer two types of crackers. Saltines or soda crackers are a decent option.
Let’s stick to three basic fruits that any supermarket carries. Seedless grapes, mangoes, and apples. Slice or dice the apples and mangoes and serve the grapes on the stem.
Pogi points: Remember the grape and toothpick trick? Why not do some skewers with a piece of mango or apple instead of grape?
This is the perfect chance for you to practice your knife skills. Grab a carrot, cucumber, and celery and make 1 cm. X 3 cm. sticks out of them. (This is referred to as a “batonette.”)
Pogi points: Make sure that these veggies are crisp by keeping them in ice water and only draining them right before serving.
Arrange the cheeses from softest to hardest, placing the fruit in between each cheese. You generally want to go in this order to encourage textural contrast: soft cheese with the hardest fruit, medium cheese with medium fruit, hardest cheese with softest fruit.
All that’s left for this course is for you to pop open a bottle of wine or crack open a few cold ones for your guests… hell, crack one for yourself too cause this is gonna be a long night.