Holiday entertaining excellence

From savory appetizers to delicious holiday gifts, cheese is a must-have holiday ingredient.

These recipes from Chef George Duran, host of TLC’s “Ultimate Cake Off” and Food Network’s “Ham on the Street,” make it easy to elevate your cheeseboard, serve up delightfully delicate puffed pastries or make glass canning jar gifts to give away to guests. Each dish features Jarlsberg Cheese, which was created in 1956 and remains based on the original Norwegian recipe, offering a slightly nutty, mild and delicious taste that helps every dish live up to festive occasions.

Best known for its classic wedge, Jarlsberg is also available sliced and in snacks and crisps for simple appetizers, savory sides and even take-home treats your guests will love.

Find more ideas to elevate this holiday season at jarlsberg.com.

Tomatoes Gratin
Servings: 4

4          tomatoes
2          ounces balsamic vinegar
1/3       cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 4 ounces, divided
4          garlic cloves, sliced thin
4          sprigs fresh thyme (or equivalent dried)
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
2          ounces pine (pignoli) nuts
8          ounces shredded Jarlsberg Cheese

Heat oven to 350 F.

Cut tomatoes in half. In bowl, whisk together vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper; gently mix in tomatoes. Transfer to ovenproof dish. Place tomatoes cut-side up and bake 15 minutes.

In pan, toast pine nuts with remaining olive oil until golden then set aside.

When tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove skins and return to baking dish. Sprinkle tomatoes with shredded cheese. Return to oven and broil about 5 minutes, or until cheese turns golden and bubbly. Top with toasted pine nuts.

Cranberry and Walnut Phyllo Triangles
Servings: 4

Filling:
1          cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3       cup sugar
1/3       cup raisins
2          tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1          tablespoon finely grated orange peel
3          tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Triangles:
10        sheets fresh or frozen phyllo dough
1/3       cup melted butter
2 1/2    cups Jarlsberg Chunk Cheese, cut into 25 cubes
2          cups chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 375 F.

In saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, raisins, honey, orange peel and orange juice; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature.

Carefully lay one phyllo sheet on cutting board and brush with melted butter. Place another sheet of phyllo on top and brush with melted butter. Cover remaining sheets with damp towel to prevent drying out. Position brushed pastry horizontally and cut into five strips.

Place 1/2 teaspoon cranberry filling, one cube of cheese and 1/2 teaspoon chopped nuts in lower corner of each strip. Fold dough over filling to form triangle. Fold triangle up then over, forming another triangle. Continue folding to end of strip. Brush top with melted butter and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon chopped nuts. Repeat with remaining strips of dough and remaining sheets of phyllo.

Bake 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack before serving.

Note: If using frozen phyllo dough, thaw in refrigerator overnight.

French-Style Marinated Cheese
Servings: 1 jar

6          ounces Jarlsberg Original, Lite or Hickory Smoked Cheese
2          ounces black or green olives
1          small leek, bulb only (or small shallot)
1          tablespoon fresh oregano or tarragon (or equivalent dried)
1          teaspoon green or black peppercorns
2          sprigs fresh thyme (or equivalent dried)
1          clove garlic
2          tablespoons white wine vinegar
4          tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1          glass canning jar

Cube cheese and thinly slice olives and leek. Finely chop oregano and peppercorns, and finely mince thyme and garlic.

To make marinade: Whisk vinegar with oil, oregano, peppercorns, thyme and garlic. Layer cheese, olives and leeks inside jar. Cover with marinade and seal tightly.

Place jar in refrigerator to marinate 1 day. For best results, use within 3 days.

Holiday Deviled Eggs
Servings: 12

6          eggs
1/8       teaspoon salt
1/8       teaspoon pepper
1          teaspoon white vinegar
1          teaspoon mustard
1/4       cup mayonnaise
1          cup shredded Jarlsberg Cheese
Topping options:
Paprika
Parsley
Bacon
Shredded Jarlsberg Cheese
Cooked crab meat
Scallions

Boil large pot of water. Carefully add eggs and boil on high 2 minutes then simmer 13 minutes.

While eggs cook, chop parsley and scallions, if desired.

Once eggs are cooked, transfer to bowl of ice water; cool 8-10 minutes. Peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Separate egg yolks into another bowl. Reserve egg white halves.

Combine egg yolks with salt, pepper, vinegar and mustard. Add shredded cheese and mayonnaise; mix until smooth.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon of yolk mixture into each egg white half.

Add toppings, as desired. For classic deviled eggs, sprinkle paprika and chopped parsley over eggs. For a savory alternative, cook four strips of bacon and chop. Top eggs with chopped bacon and shredded cheese. For a unique variation, try topping eggs with cooked crab meat and chopped scallions.

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