Tips for putting together the perfect cheese platter
It's Christmas Party time, so whether you are hosting or taking a plate, there's no better showstopper than a beautiful cheese platter.
Here are a few simple tips to help you navigate the many options and put together a great spread.
Picking the cheeses
As a general rule include a soft cheese (brie, goat's cheese), a semi-hard cheese (smoked mozzarella, Manchego) and a hard cheese (parmesan, aged cheddar) to round out the platter. To add an extra flavour hit, a blue cheese is a great addition.
Other food can intensify and even change the flavour of cheese, so carefully choose what you serve alongside your platter. A simple water cracker works well, while thicker, biscuit like crackers are ideal with hard cheese varieties. Another popular option is a bread with nuts and fruits, like a pecan-raisin loaf or cranberry-walnut bread.
Grapes make an ideal accompaniment, with red, green or even delicate champagne grapes all being ideal. Brie, camembert and other soft cheeses pair well with white wine. Toasted nuts, dried fruit, quince paste, slices of pear, fig cake and date cake are also popular selections.
Arranging your platter
Once you've chosen your cheeses and accompaniments, it's time to put the platter together. Choose a large plate, or a wooden board, with plenty of room, so that none of the cheeses touch against each other. This will prevent the stronger cheese flavours from interfering with milder tastes.
Don't cut up all the cheese, leave them in large blocks and arrange your items in groups. To make the platter more visually appealing, try to stick to an odd number of cheeses, such as three for a small gathering, five for a medium get-together, or seven for a large group.
Arrange the cheeses from mildest to strongest, with blues almost always being the strongest cheeses on the plate, followed by washed rind cheeses.
Remove cheese from the fridge one hour before serving, as the flavour is best when the cheese is at room temperature.
Use the right knife for the right cheese. A knife with holes stops soft cheese from sticking and for hard varieties, a cheese plane will shave off shards and protect fingers.
Provide more than one knife alongside the platter to avoid mixing all the different flavours together.
Our best tip......
Our friendly Knights Deli staff are experts in gourmet delights and all things cheese. They're up with the latest trends and can advise on quantities, condiments and how to impress with the best.
Trio of classic canapes
15 bocconcini, drained, halved
About 30 basil leaves
200g (about 30) perino tomatoes
½ large rockmelon
6 slices prosciutto
About 30 small mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped dill
100g smoked salmon
Thread bocconcini onto cocktail skewers or toothpicks with the basil leaves and tomatoes.
Use a melon baller to cut balls from the melon (alternatively cut into small wedges). Cut the prosciutto into strips about 10cm long and 2cm wide. Place a mint leaf on each ball, and wrap in prosciutto. Use cocktail skewers or toothpicks to secure.
Cut the brie in half horizontally, then cut each half into 12 wedges. Spread the dill over a plate. Press the cut side of each brie wedge into the dill to coat. Tear the smoked salmon into small pieces, and lay on the brie. Use cocktail skewers or toothpicks to secure.