How to create a balanced cheese selection for a party cheese plate
Happy holidays Renovators! I hope you’ve had a lovely time with family and friends, no matter which holiday you celebrate. We were in Boulder the week before Christmas visiting my mom, where we got 10 inches of snow. That was a fun change for us despite the cold and having to drive in it.
It’s been chilly here in San Diego (under 40 degrees this morning) so it feels Christmas-ey here too.
For my final post of the year I asked my friend Chef Joann Stabile for some tips on how to create a balanced cheese selection for a party cheese board. I received a selection of Kerrygold cheeses and cheese markers from them as a year-end gift. Chef Joann does amazing catering here in San Diego, and she loves making cheese boards. There’s so much more to it than I thought! Here’s what she said:
You typically want a variety of textures, flavor profiles, and milk types. Since the Kerrygold is made from grass-fed cow’s milk and is medium to hard in texture, I would suggest a goat’s milk chèvre (fresh and soft), a brie style (aged and runny, Saint Andre is my favorite) and a sheep’s milk manchego (very hard and aged) to complement it. That way you have sheep’s, goat’s, and cow’s milk, with textures all the way from soft to hard. Prosciutto and grapes are good and maybe fig jam, compote, or chutney to add a sweet vs. savory balance. You could also include smoked Gouda. I love candied spiced pecans on a cheese plate that has fruit on it.
Well, that got me thinking about cheese selections in a completely different way. Kerrygold had sent me three different cheeses: Dubliner, Skellig (sweet cheddar), and aged cheddar. I realized that putting out all three cheeses on a cheese plate, while each is delicious, would not be balanced. So I went to the store. Here’s what I came up with:
Prosciutto: Ingredients should be only pork and salt. I buy the packages that are pre-sliced with paper in between because otherwise it’s very difficult to get apart. I have seen Joann make little roses out of the prosciutto by gathering and rolling them into a small flower shape. Very pretty. You might want to use a kitchen shears to cut the prosciutto slices lengthwise first, which will make the prosciutto go further and provide smaller bites for guests.
Goat’s milk brie: This provided a two-for-one… both the goat’s milk option and the aged brie option. Many people find regular brie hard to digest, and goat’s milk easier to digest, so perhaps this will ease any possible discomfort in your guests. I also bought some small rounds of goat’s milk chevre, as everyone likes that too.
Manchego: Love this Spanish sheep’s milk cheese.
Cashew cheese: Since I will have both vegans and dairy-sensitive folks coming to my house, I chose a soft French-style fermented cashew cheese from Treeline for them. If you have dedicated ethical vegans coming to your party, put the prosciutto on a different tray so it doesn’t touch the fruit.
Fruit: Grapes, calmyrna figs, and fresh dates are delicious fruit selections. I might also slice some ripe pears and toss with lemon juice.
Jam: I couldn’t find a chutney that was gluten-free friendly, so I chose a local mango-habanero jam from Jackie’s Jams. Spicy!
You could also add some paté or a bruschetta spread as well, and some gluten-free crackers. If you are serving both gluten-free and regular crackers, put them on separate trays to protect from cross-contamination.
Have a wonderful New Year’s celebration! I’ll be back in January!
Learn more about Chef Joann: Farm-to-table catering specializing in gluten-free cuisine. Menus are inspired from the cuisines of the world using the beautiful organic produce, wild-caught fish and pasture-centered animals that are cultivated in and around San Diego, CA.
If you live in San Diego and one of your resolutions is to eat better in the New Year, consider Chef Joann’s meal delivery service. Plated with Purpose provides meals delivered to your door each week—ready to heat and eat—made from local organic produce, wild-caught seafood and pasture-centered animal protein. Follow them on Instagram and Facebook.
Required FTC disclosure: I received the cheese markers and six packages of cheese from Kerrygold with no expectation of me writing a post. I am friends with Chef Joann. I was not paid to write this post or asked to endorse either product.