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.

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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.
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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!
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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!
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Fantastic Frittata for your Valentine

On Saturday, I had some wonderful ladies over for a Valentine’s brunch.  Everyone deserves a Valentine’s Day treat.  I made sure to have a nice tablescape as well as a delicious menu.  I couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out.  I featured chocolate dipped strawberries in the center of the table because nothing says “I appreciate you” like a chocolate.  I created free-form white chocolate hearts out of Wilton candy melts to place intermittently on the tray with the strawberries.  I also made chocolate-dipped Oreos as well.  I placed a heart napkin in the center of each place setting to make the place setting a bit more festive.  I used fabric in the center of the table which is an easy way to create a runner and can often be cheaper than buying a table runner.

IMG_0404For the menu, I made overnight blueberry french toast, scalloped potatoes, and an egg frittata.  This was the first time I made a frittata and I must say it was a success.  I used Ina Garten’s recipe and doctored it up slightly by adding turkey sausage to the original recipe.  You can really put anything you would like into the frittata as long as you keep the egg base the same.  Below I will give you the adapted recipe for Ina’s roasted veggie frittata and then you can alter it as you please.

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Roasted Vegetable Frittata

ingredients

1 small zucchini, 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 red onion, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tsp minced garlic, 12 eggs, 1 cup half and half, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 cup grated cheese (swiss, mozzarella, gouda, asiago…really whatever you have on hand will do just fine)

1.  Preheat oven to 425.

2.  Dice the vegetables and place on a sheet pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic.  Toss the vegetables around on the tray to make sure the vegetables are evenly coated.  Bake for about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and turn the oven to 350.

3.  In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, parmesan, grated cheese, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper.

4.  In a 10 inch ovenproof saute pan, melt the butter and saute veggies for one minute.  Pour the egg mixture over the veggies and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat.  DO NOT STIR.  Transfer the pan to the oven and bake the frittata for 20 to 30 minutes until it is set in the middle.  You can flip the frittata out of the pan for the table presentation.  It will be brown on the outside but perfectly cooked on the inside.  Enjoy!

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