Watermelon, the essential summer refresher teams up with creamy goat cheese and crisp cucumber for a cool, tangy appetizer. It’s perfect for a 4th of July celebration or any summer gathering – an unexpectedly delicious combination.
Austin, Texas : BlogHer Food 2013 Conference
We recently visited the great city of Austin for the BlogHer Food 2013 conference. As much as it was a weekend of fun, food and friends, it was also about learning, growth and more serious issues in the wide world of food.
BlogHer holds conferences for opportunities to learn and grow as food writers and publishers of food blogs, so we do a better job for our readers. We also have the chance to see new tools, foods, make new connections, and talk with the people behind the brands about their products.
This year also featured a fantastic panel called “The Next Generation – Finding Solutions at the Intersection of Childhood Obesity and Food Insecurity in the USA”. So while we have fun, there is also a serious side about issues surrounding food in this country that attendees can take advantage of.
The sponsor list for the 2013 conference was impressive, but my favorites were Bob’s Red Mill (I have a pantry full of their products), Udi’s Glutten-free (discovered great burger buns and soft new GF tortillas), Organic Valley (love their milk, butter, and dairy products), Whole Foods (shop there regularly), and Lundberg Farms (love their rice and rice products), just to mention a few. KitchenAid is always there with an array of great appliances. They have an impressive high capacity food processor coming out I’d love to play with.
While Austin is famous for barbecue (we did eat at Stubb’s), one of my simple takeaways of the trip was this easy little appetizer. I’d never thought of pairing goat cheese with watermelon, and it turned out to be a terrific combination.
When choosing watermelons, I go for the small Dulcinea mini watermelons. They are always sweet and seedless, with gorgeous ruby flesh and a thin rind. I bought another mini type and was disappointed in the flavor, plus it had a very thick rind and not as much flesh inside.
First, cut 1″ thick slices of watermelon. Then using a 1 1/4″-1 1/2″ round cookie cutter ( about 1 1/4″ high), cut circles out of the melon. The hotel served them in a square shape. If you have a small square cookie cutter, that would work. And if you don’t have cookie cutters, then just cut squares as best as you can. Make the pieces big enough so you can hollow a bit out to pipe in the cheese.
With a melon baller tool, hollow out a little half round to pipe in goat cheese. To make the goat cheese more pipe-able, I whisked it in a small bowl with a little milk to make it creamy. With a piping bag or plastic zip bag and a star tip, you can make them look fancy.
If you don’t have the tools, not to worry. What this is really about is combining these great flavors. Spoon a little of the goat cheese into or onto the watermelon. Garnish with cucumber. A squeeze of lime over the top finished things off. Mint would be nice too.
With any leftover watermelon, make watermelon juice. Puree your scraps in a blender to liquefy, then pour through a fine strainer . You’ll be left with refreshing watermelon juice, which we enjoyed all weekend after shooting this post. Adding fresh lime juice tastes great too. To lighten it up, combine with sparkling water.
If you get to Austin, the Hilton is a nice place to stay. For seafood lovers, don’t miss eating at Perla’s. Their fresh seafood is fantastic. And be sure to get a side of their cheese grits with lobster stock. Delicious!
For more ideas on what to serve up for your July 4th celebration, read this post.
Watermelon and Goat Cheese Appetizer
Serves 6-8 (approximately 16 pieces)
- 2 small Dulcinea watermelons (or 1 large regular watermelon)
- 6-8 ounces goat cheese
- 1-2 tablespoons of milk
- 1 Persian cucumber
- A couple of limes
- Wash watermelons well. Cut a thin slice off one side to give you a flat surface. Roll melon to flat side (which provides stability for cutting the melon) and cut 1″ wide pieces of watermelon. Lay pieces flat and using a 1 1/4″-1 1/2″ round or square cookie cutter, cut pieces of melon.
- With the small end of a melon baller tool, cut little half rounds out of the center of the piece. Whip goat cheese and milk together until creamy. The amount you use will depend on your goat cheese. Place the cheese into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe into the indentations. Garnish with a little slice of cucumber. Place on a flat plate, squeeze lime juice over the top and serve.
Notes for no piping bags – If you don’t have a piping bag, you an use a plastic zip bag with a regular or star piping tip. You can also just spoon a little into the round. One more idea, roll small balls of goat cheese in your hands and place in the round.
No melon baller tool – if you don’t have a melon baller tool, just pipe or spoon the goat cheese right on top of the melon.
Watermelon juice – Puree any leftover watermelon in a blender, strain through a fine strainer and drink as a refreshing and hydrating juice. Add a little lime juice too. No sugar needed!
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