With the holidays coming up, I think it’s important to go over what I like to call the basics of putting together a cheese plate. I must say that this is the easiest way to put out “appetizers” and it always goes over well with your guests. I don’t think there is any reason to do much more than this when hosting a party. Although I must say that I always make Ina Garten’s sausage stuffed mushrooms as well because they are simply out of this world.
Here are the 7 components of a fantastic cheese tray:
1. Sharp Cheese
Choose a sharp cheese like an aged cheddar, aged gouda or parmesan.
2. Blue Cheese
Choose a good blue cheese such as stilton, moody blue (Smoked Blue Cheese), or gorgonzola.
3. Goat Cheese or Sheep’s Milk Cheese
Choose a delicious, tangy chèvre, goat gouda, drunken goat, or manchego.
4. Cheese Spread
This is a great option to have in case there are any children at the party. I often go with a port wine cheddar cheese spread. If the store is open, I will go for our own hand-mixed champagne cheddar.
Choose some type of brie-like cheese such as Fromage D’Affinois, Delice de Bourgogne, St. Andre, or St. Angel. You can also top them with fig jam or have a side of chutney as an option. The possibilities are endless.
5. Cured Meat
Choose prosciutto, chorizo, salami, or sopressata. Go wild and choose a couple!
6. Pickled or Brined Item
Choose from olives, cornichons, gherkins, roasted red peppers, or marinated artichokes.
7. Cracker or Fresh Bread
Choose any type of cracker that you prefer or a freshly baked bread. Of course, I like to use French bread from the bakery. I also prefer to use pita chips, flatbreads, and nut and fruit crackers such as the Almondina brand.
An arrangement of these will make for a successful cocktail hour. Everyone will be pleased to meet your cheese tray at your next holiday party.