You should know by now that I have a thing for cheese. My first job was at a cheese store, so one could say I know a thing or two about fromage (French for cheese – see, I know things!) I could make a cheese and charcuterie plate for dinner every night and never get bored. I love that you can make all kinds of different combinations and never try the same bite of one thing twice. The key is not just a variety of cheeses, but to also add in other flavors from fruits, jams and relishes. So today I’m sharing five tips to build the perfect cheese plate! With holiday entertaining coming up, I’m hoping it will come in handy. If you find yourself on Christmas Eve in need of an appetizer, this is the perfect fix! Just hop over to the grocery store and grab some cheese and fixins’ and build the perfect cheese plate.
- Choose your cheese: I recommend having at least three varieties; a hard, a soft and something a bit funkier like blue or goat. My favorite hard cheese is Parrano, a mix between Parmesan and Gouda, but a nice aged Cheddar or Gouda also work well. For your soft, go for a double or triple-creme. Creme cheeses are kind of like brie; as you may guess, double-creme means extra creamy, and triple even more so. I recommend Daffinois, it’s hands-down the best cheese in the world. Like scientifically proven. If you can’t get your hands on any, I also love Taleggio and Saint Andre, or you can always find a Camembert at the grocery store. As far as the “funky” cheese, if you’re entertaining you probably want to stay away from anything too stinky. Try a variation of goat cheese, like a goat-Gouda, honey goat or drunken goat (aged in wine.) Some people are afraid of blue cheese, so stick with something like Huntsman, a mix of cheddar and blue, or a creme blue cheese.
- Give your cheese a base: While I’m find eating cheese all on its own; you need something to spread it on. Fresh bread is a must; I recommend a crusty baguette sliced into quarter inch pieces. You’ll also need some crackers. Make sure to choose one that won’t crumble too easily, like a water cracker. If you think you may be hosting some gluten-free or carb-consious folks; you should add in a non-bread option. I personally love apple or pear slices.
- Add something sweet: Sweet and savory is a combination that has proven the test of time. Cheese can be very salty, so it’s nice to have a sweet to counterbalance. Start with a condiment like jam or honey. Add some fruit like grapes, apples, pears or figs. I used Asian pears, which are kind of like the mix between a pear and an apple, from a Green BEAN delivery. Green BEAN is an organic produce and natural food delivery service that I was recently sent. They have a great selection of fresh and hard to find produce, as well as some local produce depending on your area. Use the code “LexEats” for $15 off your first box!
- And something savory: Give your guests options for toppings. Try a nice grainy mustard. Add some pickles and relishes, like roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts and Cornichon pickles. I also love to add in nuts like cashews and pistachios.
- Build it on something pretty: Now that you have all your fixins’, it’s time to build that cheese tray! I love using a huge cutting board. Place your cheese towards the middle of the board in a circle. Put your condiments in small bowls or ramekins and place close to the cheese. Add in your bread or crackers in sections and then fill in with fruits, nuts and pickles. Put anything in a brine in it’s own container so that it doesn’t leak. I recommend saving grapes and figs for last so that you can use bunches of them to fill in any holes on your board. Add a few cheese knifes and you’re set!
There you have it, the perfect cheese plate. Now hurry to the grocery store before they close! I hope y’all have the most wonderful Christmas.
Biscuits & blessings,