Not all appetizers require hours in the kitchen. Cheese always pleases. With little effort, you can put together a cheese display that will stand heads above those cheese cubes on black plastic trays that you find at most grocery stores. Here's our step by step guide to the Perfect Cheese Platter...every time.
Supplies and Ingredients:
Slate or wooden cutting board (we used a 12" x 12" slate)
Leaves or other greenery (lemon, hydrangea, Thai leaves are all good)
Selection of cheeses (see explanation below)
Other Accoutrements (nuts, dried fruit, honey, etc)
1. Start with a blank slate...literally.
2. Rinse lemon leaves. Then arrange on slate or board with leaf points facing out. You should create a bed of green but still allow the base to show. It shouldn't look perfect - more organic.
3. Now you start placing the cheeses. In arranging anything, it is best to work with odd numbers. We chose 3 different cheeses with 3 different textures - hard, soft, and semi-soft. It is best to work with large wedges or chunks. If you have a long log (as in the case of chevre), cut it in half and layer. And in the case of a larger crowd, you can take two wedges of the same cheese and layer them as well...don't be afraid to overlap. It is also important that wedges point out with the rinds facing towards the center for easier access and cutting from all sides.
4. Now it is time to add the fruit. Start in the center with the largest concentration of what you have - we used grapes. It should spill out from the center around the cheese in one big grouping. The idea is to create big chunks of color. When you start mixing them together, it looks less elegant and more hodge-podge.
5. Keeping the same concept of large groupings, add at least one other kind of fruit. It is best if the second fruit is a different contrasting color. We chose strawberries with the stems as it gives the guests something to grab and looks more natural and organic, but you could also choose blackberries, raspberries, red grapes, kumquats, etc.
6. Next add bread or crackers. Keep each piece bite-size (we broke our abnormally large crackers in half) and tuck them into large grouping on the platter. It is also acceptable to have a separate plate or basket for all of the bread items if you don't have room.
7. Now you add the final accoutrements - dried fruit, nuts, etc. Place them in clusters in any areas that needs additional color or next to a cheese that is a particularly good pairing. Don't be afraid to pile them high - they go fast.
8. Lastly, it is time to mark your cheeses so your guests know what they are getting into. If you don't have markers, use one of our favorite tricks - diaper pins. Just snap off the fastener and use the wire bend to hold simple tags made of scrap paper.
Voila! A fancy, schmancy cheese platter in 5 minutes flat!