Mums is the Word
I'll have to admit I made this watermelon appetizer back in July, but I've made it again since and it's been a proven winner recipe. It's an easy hors d'oeuvre made with four simple ingredients. Take this to a barbeque or football watching party while there's still time and watermelon is still in season.
I found this treat when I was invited to a Bastille Day party with some French friends. It was a potluck backyard party and guests were assigned a certain part of the meal according to where their last name fell in the alphabet. Mine fell in the hors d'oeuvre category. Now, I could have bought a hunk of cheese and a baguette (which was my original lazy thought) but I knew everyone else the category would too. And once I arrived at the party I was proved right. There were about a gazillion baguettes and almost the same number of hunks of nice smelly French cheese.
I had waited until the day of the party to decide what to take, so it would have to be one of those fast and easy meal kind of things. I perused online et voila, mes amies, I found the answer.
People went nuts for these, and that was before they tasted them. They make a lovely presentation, which garnered a lot of talk and excitement. I tried them at a barbeque that I hosted in August and the results were the same. A crowd pleaser.
Watermelon and Herbed Goat Cheese Hors D' Oeuvres
Cut the watermelon into slices with a sharp knife. In the floral business and in the kitchen, I've learned what a difference a sharp knife can make in your life. Trust me, a sharp knife is safer and sooooo much better to use. You will thank me, I promise.
Cut the slices about 3" deep or to match the depth of your cookie/vegetable cutter...more on that below.
I couldn't find the right cookie cutter, which I was sure I had...but I had already bought the melon and the goat cheese and sliced the watermelon (giant watermelon) and time was running short. So, like we always do at the flower shop I improvised.
You know those plastic scoops that come in a coffee can or a container of protein powder (yuck) or powdered lemonade? I found one of those and popped it into the first slice of watermelon. (Never throw anything away!) It worked great, except for one small detail. The bottom of the scoop made it impossible to get the melon out without totally smashing it. So I took a nail and hammer, made a hole in the bottom of the scoop, then cut out to the edges with some garden shears until I had a cylinder. I also used the shears to cut off the scoop handle. Now i could just sink my cylinder into the melon and pop it out with my finger cleaned everything very thoroughly after handling the hammer and nail of course). I would recommend just having some cookie/vegetable cutters on hand though, especially cute shaped ones like stars or hearts.
Next I used a melon baller to scoop out little divots.
The goat cheese was easier to work with when it was firm, just out of the fridge. I discovered this by accident. The recipe said to let the cheese get to room temperature. The second time I made the recipe, I followed the directions and found the cheese too warm to work with easily. So experiment, but take your goat cheese and mix in a liberal amount of black pepper. Again, another happy accident, at the store the quantities of goat cheese that were the fancy kind from a special farm came in a limited choice of sizes--and let's be honest--prices. I chose a 4oz goat cheese that had cracked black pepper already mixed in (read I went cheap). Best cheap-o decision I ever made. The second time I made it, I used plain goat cheese and my pepper grinder wasn't working so I used ground pepper. It didn't turn out nearly as good as the first time (in my opinion--no one else had a comparison at the second party so they still raved).
Moral of the story, if you can find the goat cheese with black pepper already in it, buy that. If not, a liberal amount of coarse ground pepper.
Cut your choice of herb (I used basil, since I had some growing in a pot on my deck) into small pieces. I wouldn't say fine pieces, just small.
I used the small end of the melon baller to scoop (affiliate link) the cheese/pepper/herb mixture into each divot.
Top with little sprigs or leaves of the same herb for a beautiful garnish and sprinkle with more pepper over the top of the whole thing. Done!
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Annie is the owner of Annie's Main Street Floral and the author of "The Final Arrangement," part of the flower shop mystery series. Annie is Immediate Past -President of the Utah Professional Florist Association, a native of Layton Utah, and alumna of Layton High School.