How to Expertly Make a Cheese Plate

How to Expertly Make a Cheese Plate

The holidays are upon us. This week is Turkey Day and before we know it, Santa will be here. As a foodie and holiday lover, I find myself attending a ton of holiday events throughout the season—maybe even hosting a few too.

A cheese plate is a must for any good event. It is quick to put together and instantly wows the crowd. But if you are like me, you have probably asked yourself, “How in the heck do I put together a good cheese plate?”

It took years of practice to finally master my cheese pairing skills. I ate a ton of cheese for the good of the cause. At the end of the day the main principal to apply is include all of the tastes and textures. Below are a few more principals that will help you create a great board:

  1. Variety of Cheese is key. I do not expect you to know everything about cheese (I certainly do not), so there are few good ways to get a good variety on your board. Look for different textures and colors. For example, grab a cheese that is speckled with peppers, or one that is encased in a rind. A second way to add a good variety is to pick up a range of softness, get a super hard cheese like parmesan and a super soft cheese like brie. Make sure you have at least three to four cheese featured on your board.
  2. Add something fresh. Cheese is a rich preserved product, so adding something fresh to your plate instantly adds another note. Grapes are preferable, but fresh fruit like apples or pears work great. Who doesn’t love apples with cheese?
  3.  Sweetness. If you have selected your cheeses properly you will have included a cheese that needs a sweet counterpart. Blue cheese loves honey. Another sweet option is a jar of artisanal jam or jelly.
  4. Nuts are needed. Salt and texture come from this addition. Again, another way to add layers of flavor to an otherwise boring presentation.
  5. Throw on some fancy pickled products. I am not referring to hamburger chips or pickle spears. Open a jar of olives, pickled okra, or any pickled vegetable. Including good pickled items adds a pick-me-up to the dish. The vinegar cuts through the decadent cheese and cleanses the palate.
  6. Meats are mandatory. The argument can be made that adding cured meats make the board more of a charcuterie than a cheese plate. I disagree. A few cured meats satisfies the meat lovers in the room and adds even more dimension to the party. I often find myself lean towards prosciutto.
  7. Clean out your pantry. If you are struggling to fill up your board take a dive into your pantry. I often throw together a adequate presentation with just a few items from the pantry.
  8. Serve more than one type of cracker. Nobody wants a sleeve of ritz crackers thrown next to the cheese. Amp it up a little and give your guests a variety of crackers. I also love toasting bread points to add into the mix.

Happy Holidays and I hope you are inspired to get out there and use your own creativity in sharing food for the season.

 

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Prosciutto + Pistachio Salad

Prosciutto + Pistachio Salad

Last week I gave you a simple recipe that used seasonal local ingredients. My Onion, Fig, & Feta tarts used cheese from a local goat farm and seasonal fresh figs. And although the tarts are extremely delectable on their own, I created them with the intent to include the pastries as part of a larger meal that is just as simple to prepare as the first portion.

Fig pastry recipe is here: Onion, Feta, & Fig Tarts

If you have thumbed around my blog, for even a second, you will notice that it is filled with hearty southern food and decadent baked goods. I am not a one trick pony, I do (quite often) make healthy(ish) food. I swear you can find a salad recipe some fifty posts ago.

Like my fig tarts, and this recipe uses fresh local ingredients; plus, you can whip it up in a dash. My homemade salad dressing, which sets any salad apart, is made with local Savannah honey and white balsamic for a punch.

I crisp of some salty prosciutto and sprinkle over pistachios. Served on the side, which add sweet and savory notes, are the fig tarts posted last week.

This one is a dinner party show stopper (along with well cooked protien) or a satisfying weeknight meal that is better than that frozen pizza we always go to.

Pistachio & Proscuitto Salad

Category: Recipes, Savory Recipes

Pistachio & Proscuitto Salad

Ingredients

  • For The Dressing:
  • 1/4 Cup of White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup of Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons of Honey
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 of a Lemon
  • For The Salad:
  • 1 Cup of Shelled Pistachios, toasted
  • 4 Ounces of Prosciutto
  • 1 Pound of Spring Mix
  • 2 Onion, Fig, & Feta Tarts Per Person

Instructions

  1. The day before, or a few hours before, make the salad dressing.
  2. In a mason jar, combine all of the dressing ingredients.
  3. Vigorously shake.
  4. Place the dressing in the fridge until ready to use.
  5. To make the salad, heat up a medium skillet and fry the prosciutto until crispy.
  6. Drain cooked prosciutto on paper towels.
  7. Make each salad by topping them evenly with pistachios, crumbled prosciutto, the dressing, and 2 tarts.
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https://epicuropedia.com/2019/07/25/prosciutto-pistachio-salad/

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Onion, Feta, & Fig Tarts

Onion, Feta, & Fig Tarts

I cannot say that this recipe is a traditional southern one, like most of my posts are. But maybe you will find it so delicious that it will be incorporated into your traditions or celebrations.

The idea behind this recipe is simple: using farm fresh, seasonal, sustainable, and local ingredients.  A tenant which can be said to be southern. Edna Lewis and so many other inspriational southern cooks just like here based their kitchens around this idea.

Truly, there is no better food that what is local to your area and what is in season.

It is finally fig season. It lasts a very short time, but if you are lucky enough (like I was) to source fresh figs you buy them all up. Unlike my husband, I was not lucky enough to grow up with a giant fig tree close by which produced an abundant amount of the unique fruit. My mom preferred her peach tree.

As for the feta, it is locally sourced from Bootleg Farm. Savannah’s beloved goat farm which produces fresh goat cheese. Read more about them Here.

A quick carmalization on some onions and I had a winning recipe. Buttery puff pastry sits at the base for these ultra savory and slightly sweet seasonal tarts.

You can eat these savory puff pastry tarts on their own or pair them with dinner. I will post later detailing what I did with these little beauties.

Onion, Feta, & Fig Tarts

Category: Savory Recipes

A close up of the baked tarts

Ingredients

  • 1 Box of Frozen Puff Pastry
  • 1 Pound of Fresh Figs
  • 1 Large Onion, peeled and thinly sliced.
  • 4 Ounces of Fresh Feta

Instructions

  1. Thaw the puff pastry for approximatley 30 minutes.
  2. While the puff pastry thaws, carmalize the onion.
  3. In a medium pan over medium-high heat, heat a tablespoon of olive oil.
  4. Once the oil is heated, put the sliced onion into the pan then add salt and pepper.
  5. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until caramlized. Set aside once cooked.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Unfold the thawed puff pastry, and slice into 12 rectangles.
  8. Fold the edges of the puff pastry over then pinch the ends together. This will create a slight well in the center.
  9. Place the prepared pastry on two baking sheets.
  10. Fill each well with crumbled feta, then carmalized onions, and finding with a topping with two slices of fresh fig.
  11. Bake for approximatley 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
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https://epicuropedia.com/2019/07/14/onion-feta-fig-tarts/

An overhead photo of the warm tarts