I get excited about entertaining! Planning a menu. Preparing the food. Deciding which serving dishes to use. There is something special about gathering a group of family or friends together to share food and make new memories. I have been looking forward to inviting people over to see our new home since the second I signed on the dotted line.
When entertaining I believe in having a few tried and true favorites. A couple of my go-to entertaining dishes are, of course, fruit and vegetable platters because they are so beautiful, colorful, and inviting. Color is important; we eat with our eyes first, and food should be beautiful. Other beloved dishes include refried bean dip (my mother-in-law makes the best one; I will award myself second place), crock-pot spinach dip, and cookies (of any kind).
I like to follow the following formula when preparing an appetizer: something savory, something sweet, something fresh, something crunchy. The humble cheese plate checks all the boxes, which is why it is my number one choice for serving. It is absolutely, positively the appetizer I gravitate to above all others. Cheese plates can be customized to fit any celebration or size of party. I especially like to prepare one to serve with a bottle of wine for date night at home.
So, let’s talk anatomy. Begin with a white serving platter; this will be the perfect backdrop and let the ingredients pop. The cheese is, of course, the highlight. I like to choose three varieties; one soft, one semi-soft, and one harder texture cheese. For this cheese plate I chose Zingermanns garlic & chive Sharon’s Hollow, Drunken Goat cheese, and 12 month aged Manchego cheese. Cut a few thin slices of the firmer varieties, but leave the end whole; this makes for a prettier presentation. Arrange the varieties of cheese in a triangle pattern; fan out the slices.
Next come the adornments…these are the enhancements to the cheese. The components that really make it sing! For this plate included fruit and nut crisps, sugar snap peas, whole grain crackers, Kalamata olives, pumpkin seeds, red grapes, and very thinly sliced salami. I will admit this is over the top…but I just couldn’t help myself…I may have gotten a little excited about entertaining. Arrange the items to fill in the areas surrounding the cheese; a variety of colors draws your eyes to different parts of the plate and keeps you interested in snacking.
Ta-da! Bring all ingredients in the cheese plate to room temperature before serving. This means you may want to place it on the table approximately 15 minutes before your guests arrive. Now that you know the basic anatomy…choose your favorite cheeses and adornments and have fun! Enjoy!