Serving cheese is so convenient and easy at a dinner party
Serving cheese is a perfect way to build your repertoire of tried and true make-ahead dishes. It's a fast and easy appetizer course or dessert course. Cheese is so versatile. And it is always a crowd-pleaser.
You use the presentation techniques for either course .
How nice to have one dish that you can serve either before or after dinner.
A great bonus of serving cheese is that you can arrange your cheese tray hours in advance of your dinner party. Just cover it over with plastic wrap until you take it out of the frig for serving.
Give your cheese time to soften a bit.Make sure to take your selections out of the frig about half an hour or more before you serve them. That way they can soften up, and their flavors will not be masked by cold.
Use a flat platePlace your selection, crackers and garnishes on an attractive plate with a surface flat enough to allow people to cut on it.
Wooden plates work especially well. A lazy Susan wooden tray is even nicer, because people can sit around it at the table and idly turn it to cut “just another tiny bite” as they chat. But if you don’t have a lazy Susan tray, a plain one is fine.
Marble plates are lovely too, but it is best to use them when the plate will stay in one place. Marble trays tend to be quite heavy for passing around.
Use separate knives. It’s nice to have separate knives for each type. This is especially important you are serving a strong flavor like blue cheese. Make certain it has its own knife, as the flavor is too strong for some people.
Creating a pleasing cheese tray for appetizers
It’s so wonderfully simple! So in tune with the dinner party planning philosophy of make ahead and keep it simple.
Just plan to serve several varieties. Mix colors and textures. If you are just learning what you like, here are some safe choices. Cheddar has a firm texture, and you can get it in mild, medium or strong. Sometimes I cube the cheddar so people can just pop a bite into their mouths without fussing with cutting and crackers.
Blue cheese is softer, but it does have a very strong flavor. If you serve it, be sure to offer at least two other choices since some people don’t care for it. Others adore it!
Camembert or Brie are both soft choices that are appealing to most people.
A cheese ball (pictured right) is another popular choice. These are combinations of cheeses shaped into a ball. You can find all kinds of fast and easy recipes online for a cheese ball your guests will love.
Crackers and bread. Add two kinds of crackers. Just browse the cracker section of your store and choose something that appeals to you. I like to offer whole wheat thins and little Melba toasts. Sometimes I will slice up a baguette and add that to the plate too.
Garnish the tray. Fruit is perfect, even if this is your appetizer. Grapes are always a good choice. Seedless grapes are even better. You don’t need too many, just a couple of small clusters. Another favorite of mine is cubes of cantaloupe, but that is because I am a huge cantaloupe fan. Any kind of melon or strawberries makes lovely companions.
Serving cheese for dessert
If you are serving cheese for dessert, just follow the guidelines above for the appetizer tray. You can skip the Melba toast if you like. Instead, add a couple of other items like more fruit and/or some nuts. Nuts are classic partners. I especially like walnuts.
Put out a tray of chocolates or small chocolate biscuits and you have a complete, simple and delicious dessert.
Learning more about cheese
If you want to expand your knowledge, why not pick out a different kind each time you shop and experiment. Try out small amounts yourself, and if you like what you taste, you have a new choice when you are next serving cheese at your next dinner party.
Another good way to experiment is to ask your guests to tell you some of their favorites. Again, you can try them out by buying small amounts, and adding one or two to your next tray if you like them.
A cheese tray is perfect for the dinner party planning philosophy.
They are delicious, simple to put together and completely make-ahead. Wonderful!
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