Cheese Please: Creating The Perfect Cheese Tray

67592.jpeg

What types of cheese should you use to make the perfect cheese tray? That is a great question!

About a week or so ago, my friend Julie had contacted me asking for cheese suggestions for a platter that she needed to prepare for an event she was attending. I messaged her back with a selection of cheeses that I thought would be a nice variety for her to use.

The next day she texted me this picture of her beautiful cheese tray that she had prepared.

6759~6

I absolutely love the way her tray turned out and just had to share her beautiful design! And it got me thinking about the elements of the perfect cheese tray. (By the way, she totally nailed it with this gorgeous display!)

First lets talk about the pièce de résistance. The Cheese!

  • Use a variety of different textures: soft, semi soft, firm and hard cheeses. Moist, creamy, dry,  etc..
  • Variety of flavors: Mild to pungent, herbs, smoked, wine soaked.
  • Appearance: different shapes, sizes, colors.
  • Different milk sources: Cows milk, goats milk, sheeps milk
  • Temperature: Be sure to serve cheeses at room temperature for maximum flavor and texture.

Accompaniments:

  • Fresh fruits: Red grapes, apple slices, pear slices, figs, berries, apricots, cherries
  • Dried fruits: Cranberries, cherries, apples, figs, apricots
  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts (filberts), cashews, pecans, macadamia nuts, spiced nuts, sweet and spicy nuts
  • Olives: Kalamata, green olives, marinated olive blends
  • Meats: Salami, Prosciutto, parma ham, sliced grilled sausages, capicola
  • Dried fruit compotes, fig jam, honey, panforte (Italian fruit and nut cake), nuts and honey.
  • Breads and crackers: savory nut and fruit breads, french baguettes, olive oil crackers, water crackers, sesame rice crackers. Avoid overly seasoned snack crackers as they will distract from the flavors of the cheese.

 

Garnish: Grapes, berries, fresh herbs, flowers, banana leaves, ti leaves, tomato roses, orange roses.

Utensils: Be sure to have cheese knives for cheese wedges and spreaders for soft cheeses.

And there you have it! Try not to choose too many cheeses 3-6 different cheeses are plenty.

Pairing wines with cheese: Try to choose wines and cheeses from the same region. (what grows together, goes together) Spanish cheeses with Spanish wines, Italian with Italian, etc..

Creamy higher fat cheeses, such as a triple cream brie, will pair well with a more acidic wine like Riesling. Where as a bolder or more pungent cheese will pair with a bigger bolder wine like Zinfandel. Light fresh cheeses with light fresh wines.

Pinot Noir and Dry Rose will pair with a wider variety of cheeses but it really comes down to what you like. Experiment with different cheeses and wines to find your favorite pairing.

 

Cheers!

 

 

Advertisements

Little Muffuletta Biscuit Bites

P1010455

Have you ever had a Muffuletta sandwich? Muffuletta is a type of round sesame seed topped bread and also a Sicilian inspired sandwich from New Orleans. They are so yummy!

The original Muffuletta sandwich was created in the early 1900’s by a Sicilian deli/grocery owner in New Orleans. The Sicilian workers in the area would come in to his store and purchase bread, olive salad, meats and cheeses for their lunch. The owner suggested that they make a sandwich out of the ingredients to make it more portable and easier to eat.

The next day, when they came in for their lunch, they asked for a Muffuletta sandwich. Hence, the Muffuletta sandwich was born. There are many variations today on the original sandwich. These little biscuit Muffuletta bites are my own twist on the ever popular sandwich. P1010466

First I made these yummy Rosemary Asiago Two Bite Biscuits. 

Then made the olive salad. I made mine a little less chunky than a salad and a little more spreadable. Kind of in between a salad and a tapenade.

P1010450

 

Olive Salad:

  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 10-12 large pimento stuffed green olives
  • 6 pieces of marinated artichoke hearts (quarters)
  • 1/8 cup minced shallots
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1/4 cup minced celery
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

In the bowl of a food processor add olives, artichoke hearts, shallots, garlic and capers. Pulse several times until everything is nicely minced. Add celery and olive oil and pulse a couple more times to combine. Makes about 2 cups

P1010452

 

Choose your favorite selection of Italian meats and cheeses. I cut the cheese in little circles using the same cookie cutter that I used to cut out the biscuits. Then I cut the meats in smaller sizes to fit the sandwich.

To assemble sandwiches:

Split biscuits in half with a knife. Spread the bottom half with the olive salad. Top with the salami and capocollo then cheese and proscuitto. Place top of biscuit on top and place a cute sandwich pick in the center to hold it all together.

Enjoy!

P1010459

 

 

 

 

 

 


Rosemary Asiago Two Bite Biscuits

P1010439

I made these little Rosemary Asiago Two Bite Biscuits a couple of days ago while working on ideas for Super Bowl/Mardi Gras/Valentines Day posts.

These were adapted from a yummy looking buttermilk biscuit recipe that I stumbled upon during a google search. What did we do before google, anyway?

Here is the original recipe that I found on a site called Cooking Maniac:

Grandma’s Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

I added a cup of very finely grated Rosemary Asiago Cheese to mine (my favorite “go to” cheese at the moment) and a bit of granulated garlic. I also cut the biscuits out with a small round cookie cutter. They turned out quite cute (and yummy)!

IMG_20170613_214824354

I purchased the cheese at Trader Joe’s, if you do not have one in your area, it is available at most grocery stores that have a fine cheese section. Or you can order online.

Sartori Cheese Rosemary Asiago with Olive Oil

I haven’t made homemade biscuits in quite some time, I forgot how simple they are to make!

These little yummy bites would pair great with your game day chili or use them to make little cocktail sandwiches. (watch for my little sandwich recipe coming in my next post).

Enjoy!

Rosemary Asiago Two Bite Biscuits:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely grated rosemary asiago cheese (grate on a microplane grater)
  • 1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter to brush on top

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into bowl of food processor. Add cheese and granulated garlic. Pulse  a couple of times to combine. Cut cold butter into small chunks and add to flour mixture. Pulse about 6-7 times until dough resembles rough crumbs. Add buttermilk and pulse a couple more times, just until dough comes together.

Turn dough out onto floured surface ad roll into a rough rectangle about an inch thick. Fold it over and gently roll out again. Repeat 6 times.

Gently roll dough some more to form a rough rectangle. Cut out biscuits with a floured cookie cutter. Do not twist cookie cutter when cutting: this crimps the edges and causes biscuits not to rise. If you have scraps, reform rectangle and cut additional biscuits.

Place biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the pre-heated oven. bake until golden brown. Approximately 10-15 minutes. Brush with melted butter and serve. (Mine took exactly 11 minutes) Recipe makes about 30 little biscuits.

Yum!

P1010435