Today’s an extremely special day. Exactly a year ago “Spoons and Sneakers” entered the blogosphere.
Yes! Today we celebrate my blog’s first anniversary. Yay!
It’s celebrations time and there is no better way to celebrate than with a few close friends. The calls have been made and we are ready to pop a bottle of champagne tonight.
With the whiff of winters and festive season, I have fromage on my mind. It makes perfect sense then to set up a cheese platter for this evening. I love cheese! Creating a cheese platter is one of the things that I do pretty much when we throw parties. It’s a no-fuss platter of goodies and forms the melting pot around which people hover and conversations take place. I love it for its versatility and the creative aspect.
ESSENTIALS OF A CHEESE PLATTER
1. CHOOSING A BASE FOR THE CHEESE BOARD
Plenty of cheese platters made of wood, marble, slate and ceramic are available in the market. They come in different sizes and shapes. However, not having one should not stop you from making a cheese platter. Look around your kitchen. Pizza serving bats, cake stands, baking trays, a slab of marble and cutting boards all make excellent bases as well. Avoid using metal directly as this affects the flavor due to the oxidation process.
2. SELECTING YOUR CHEESE
A great cheese plate unfurls a story via its flavors and textures. It tells a tale of its country, age, textures, and method of production. The following things must be kept in mind while selecting cheese.
- The inclusion of different kinds of textures and flavors. Most cheese belongs to one of the following categories: soft, firm, or blue. For a good variety, choose at least one from each group. Some examples:
Soft and Mild: Brie, Camembert, Brillat-Savarin, cream cheese, fresh mozzarella
Hard, Full Bodied Cheese: Cheddar, Gouda, Edam,
Crumbly Blue Cheese: GorgonzolaDolce, Valdeón, Danish Blue
- Choose one cheese made from the milk of different animals like cow, goat, and sheep. The distinct, unique flavors of each make the platter interesting.
- Serving 3-5 different types of cheese offers a nice selection for the guests.
Things to keep in mind while serving cheese
- Use a separate knife for each cheese. We don’t want the flavors to mix up.
- Cheese tastes best when served at room temperature. Remove from the refrigerator an hour before serving.
- Label each cheese so the guests have an idea of the different cheese they are tasting.
- Separate the strong-smelling cheeses. If you want to serve a pungent cheese, it’s a good idea to serve it separately so it doesn’t overpower the mild, delicate ones.
- One can cut the cheese and place them on the platter or serve them in blocks. I personally like serving them as it is. They look neater and prominent on display. However, I cut a few slices of the blocks so that the guests are not inconvenienced.
There are a crazy number of things that can find a place on a platter, but let’s briefly touch upon the main ones. Depending on whether you want a simple, spaced-out look or an elaborate platter, one can set up a cheese platter accordingly.
Neatly folded Salami, Prosciutto and Deli meats like ham and turkey make excellent accompaniments to cheese. Place them in slices, rolled up or fold them up into triangles.
Breadsticks, cream crackers, rice crackers, thinly sliced baguettes, melba bread, walnut bread make good companions to cheese. No cracker should get in the way of the flavors of the cheese. It should complement rather than overpower its flavors.
Nuts make great fillers to the empty spaces. Place scoops of pistachios, almonds, walnuts, pecans for munching. Another great idea which I do often is to make candied nuts. Mix sugar and butter in a pan. Put it on low heat and stir till it has melted and is golden brown in color. Add the nuts like walnuts, almonds, and pecans and toss them in the caramelized sugar till they are well covered. Remove the pan and separate the nuts while hot. Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds sprinkled around not only fill the gaps but add a little crunch when had with cheese and cracker.
FRUITS / DRY FRUITS
Fruits on a platter make it look more bountiful and adds colors. Green, red or purple grapes, cherries, dried apricots, pomegranate seeds, apple slices, blueberries, prunes, figs, strawberries make it an integral part of cheese plating. For the vegetarians, a fruit, nuts and cheese platter makes such a good option. Take care that the fruits are washed and dried prior to setting them on the base.
The most readily available dip for a platter would be honey. Jams, jelly, marmalade, pepper jelly placed in a bowl on or beside a platter are good for flavoring. Try sweet preserves, chutney, and spicy mustard too.
Briny olives make great pick-up appetizer and snack and make an ideal pair with cheese.
With really gooey, unctuous cheeses, I like something with bubbles like Champagne or a good wine. The options of both red and white wines must be offered to the guests. The Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with a pungent cheese like Danish Blue while the Chardonnay happily syncs with softer, mild flavors of a Brie or Goat Cheese.
A cheese platter is not always an expensive affair. You can glam it up or trim it down. It’s malleable and accommodating. Choose your options wisely. Whatever you choose to plate up and serve, one thing it guarantees always – Lots of fun, friends, and conversations!
This post is a part of #MyFriendAlexa challenge. It’s an endeavor to bring interesting stories, places, food and places to the readers. I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with blogchatter.