A Proper Cheese Plate

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.
5. Brie
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.

This is a cheese platter that I put together for a customer at the bakery. Their guests were happy with the choices I made…Five Counties, Delice de Bourgogne, Stilton, Miticrema, and Bellavitano.
This is a cheese platter I put together for a friend and I for a fun summer picnic on my back deck. It was all we needed for dinner. Everything you see here can be found at my bakery. That’s an advantage of owning your own store!
This graphite serving board allows you to write the name of the cheese onto the platter using a piece of soapstone. My friend Kelly got this for me for my 30th birthday and I love it!

Hurricane Sandy

On Sunday and Monday, my house became Fort Todd.  It became a refuge for 5 residents of Stone Harbor, just one of the barrier island communities of New Jersey.  I made sure that my guests felt like my home was their home away from home while we were waiting out the storm.  As it turns out, I was able to be a great host as we were fortunate enough not to lose electricity until late Monday night.  I was able to make a spread of comfort at each meal.  I must say that mealtime really brings people together to appreciate each other.

I feel blessed to report that our small community of the 7 mile island was fortunate enough to survive the storm with only a few bumps and bruises.  Unfortunately, not everyone was as lucky as we were.  My heart goes out to those who do not have homes to go back to and to those whose businesses were pulled out from under them.

I inspected the bakery this morning and found it to be in near perfect condition.  You can see all the reed grass piled up outside the door, but somehow the water managed to stay outside.  My dad piped silicone around the door frame to keep out the water but I never thought that would be enough to stop nature from taking its course.  I’m not quite sure what act of God left the bakery almost untouched, but I certainly made sure to thank Him for his protection.

There have been horrifying pictures all over the news this week of destruction and devastation.  In all of this tragedy, I realize that we must enjoy the life we have created because you never know how it will change overnight.

Star Wars Cake

As you may have already concluded, Sadie has taken over my weekend blog spot for the summer.  I am bogged down at the bakery and don’t have much time for my own adventures.  Most of my blogging will be based around the bakery since it is my entire life during July and August.  Here is a cake I made last week and I thought it turned out pretty well.  Star Wars is not my thing but I think I convinced the customer that it was!