How to Create and Cheese and Fruit Platter

  • Servings: 15-20 people
  • Prep time: ~ 5 minutes
cheese-board-with-manchego,-parrano,-gabriel-coulet-roquefort

Ingredients

  • 1/3 lb of Gabriel Coulet Roquefort
  • 1/2- 2/3 lb of Manchego Aged 6 months
  • 1/2- 2/3 lb of Parrano
  • 1 bunch of organic grapes

Creating a memorable fruit and cheese platter for a party is quite easy to do with these simple tips. Select cheeses with different textures and flavors. There should be a soft cheese like Brie, semi-soft such as blue, and a hard cheese like Manchego or Parmesan. Cheeses from several types of milk will ensure you have a variety of flavors.

A description of many different types of cheese and good wine pairings from The Ultimate Cookbook is provided to simplify the selection process. A basic cheese plate usually consists of 3 to 5 cheeses such as Gouda, Cheddar, Brie, Danish Blue, Pecorino or Parmesan. To save money, buy larger pieces of the less expensive cheese. Make sure you have one small piece of really good cheese and plenty of red and green Organic grapes or other fruits around for color as well as variety. Grapes around the cheese always dresses up the cheese plate.

If you are able to splurge a little, I highly recommend choosing unique, artisan cheeses for a platter. You can always buy smaller pieces of cheese to reduce the cost. I have read you need 1 ounce of each cheese per person but found ½ an ounce is fine. I always serve a large Baked Apricot Brie and my guests devour that first and then nibble on the cheese plate the rest of the night.

For the cheese plate featured in this post, I choose a Gabriel Coulet Roquefort for the Blue cheese, a Manchego Aged 6 months (the older cost more), and a Parrano.  The Gabriel is aged for 60 days which is a requirement if the cheese is from unpasteurized milk and this cheese is made from unpasteurized sheep?s milk. The Parrano is made from pasteurized cow?s milk and the Manchego is from pasteurized sheep?s milk. The Manchego contains eggs for some reason so be aware if you have an allergy!

If you are conscious about the quality of your food and where it comes from, then choose cheese made from grass fed cow milk. Many milk farmers in Europe practice the old fashion method called transhumance. They allow the cows to graze in the mountains in the summer and in the valleys in the winter. These cows may have more nutritious milk because of the quality of grass and the lack of pesticide use.

Since the milk is richer and more complex, some cheese makers will not use pasteurized milk. I was told by a Whole Foods cheese expert that up to 50% of the good stuff in the milk is lost during pasteurization. The cheese becomes more homogenized and the taste is very consistent when the milk is pasteurized. Many artisan cheese makers are opting for raw milk to create a more robust and distinctive cheese. Some people prefer the taste of pasteurized cheese since it is familiar so I recommend using some raw milk cheeses and some pasteurized cheeses for a party.

Here is a list I found online for raw milk cheeses. Please check the label because the Manchego I bought was pasteurized and this list shows the hard cheese can come from raw milk. Some Gruyere and Fontina also may be pasteurized.

Raw Milk Blue cheeses

Great Hill Blue Bartlett Blue, Bayley Hazen Blue, Maytag Blue, Rogue Creamery Blues, Pt. Reyes Blue, Beenleigh Blue, Harbourne Blue, Blue de Gex, Fourme d’ambert, Blue de Causses, Blue de Auvergne, Roquefort, Cabrales

Raw Milk Washed Rind Cheeses

Big Bang, Grayson, Winnimere, Morbier, Raclette, Tete de Moine, Gabietou

Raw Milk Bloomy Rind and Soft Cheeses

Juniper Grove Bouche, Constant Bliss, St. Nectaire, Torta del Casar,Serra da Estrella

Raw Milk Semi-hard and Hard Cheeses

Silver Mountain, Sally Jackson cheeses, Beecher’s Flagship Reserve, Trade Lake Cedar, Vermont Shepherd, Grafton Cloth-bound Cheddar, Bravo Cheddar, Pepato, San Andreas, Vella Dry Jack, Ouray, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Tarentais, Berkswell,most English Cheddars, Cheshire, Spenwood,Caerphilly, Beaufort, Comte, Tomme de Savoie, Abbaye de Belloc,Fontina, Gruyere,Appenzeller, Asiago, Bra, Parmigiano-Reggiano, many Pecorinos, Azeitao, Manchego,Idiazabal,Evora, Zamarano, Ibores, Val Bagner, Prattigauer, Hoch Ybrig, Appenzeller

To add an extra touch, get some card stock and cut them into small place cards to write the name of the cheese. Also serve a wine that pairs well. Sauvignon Blancs are normally paired with cheese. I prefer less dry and more sweet fruit in the wine so Natalia from Perrine?s Wine Shop paired this wine from New Zealand. I only had one bottle left at the end of the evening and everyone commented on how much they loved the wine selection.

Cheese Plate
2011 Fusional, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
Subtle and intense in the mouth, pleasant freshness. Notes of apricot and pineapple.

 The Ultimate Cookbook Wine & Cheese List

The selection of cheeses at farmers markets, specialty stores and well-stocked supermarkets is mind-boggling these days.  Here is a guide to some of the best of what?s out there:

Asiago: Hard, straw-colored cheese of Italian origin, once made from sheep’s milk but now made from cow’s milk. A version is produced in Wisconsin. Good for grating over pasta

Brie: A cow’s-milk cheese that originated in France; has a white, edible rind with beige mottling and a soft, buttery interior that has a nutty, garlicky flavor and mushroomy aroma.   Serve with any big red Bordeaux or Burgundy.

Camembert: Cow’s-milk cheese from Normandy region of France; ideally, it’s creamy and spreadable, with a floury rind speckled red and a fruity aroma.  Good with Merlot.

Cheddar:  Semifirm cow’s-milk cheese of English origin. Has a gray-brown, calico-wrap rind; straw-colored interior; buttery, rich texture; full, layered flavor; and sweet, grassy aroma.  (Color is sometimes added to make it orange.) Relatives include English Cheshire, Gloucester, Lancashire, Leicester, Wensleydale; French Cantal: American Cheddar. Serve with light, fruity reds; dark beers and ales.

Chevre:  Fresh, tangy, goat?s milk cheeses that, nowadays, come in multitude of shapes, from pyramids to logs to discs.  Some are wrapped in grape leaves or rubbed with ash to prevent molding.  Some are flavored with herbs and spices.  Of all the French chevres, Montrachet is the most popular and versatile.

Emmental (Swiss): Partially skimmed cow’s milk from Switzerland.  American Swiss and Norwegian Jarlsberg are relatives. Has a smooth, beige to yellowish rind; pale, yellowish-tan interior; random proliferation of large, walnut-size holes; mild, yet full, nutty fruity flavor with characteristic finishing savory bite. Pair with light, fruity reds.

Feta: Essential to Greek salad, feta cheeses are made with sheep’s or cow’s milk. Aged feta is dry and salty–firm enough to hold its shape but soft enough to crumble.

Fontina: Cow’s-milk cheese from the Piedmont region of Italy. Has a reddish-brown, brushed rind; beige interior; firm, supple texture; earthy, herby flavor; delicate, fruity, perfumed aroma.  Serve with the Piedmont’s big reds.

Gouda and Edam: Mild, smooth and pale gold, they are the Netherlands’ best-known cheeses. Some are flavored with caraway or cumin. Good for grilling in a sandwich.

Gruyere:  Deep nutty, fuIl-flavored, semifirm Cow’s-milk cheese from Switzerland. Excellent in fondues and quiches.

Havarti: Semisoft cow’s-milk cheese from Denmark. Mild, smooth and rindless, it comes flavored with herbs, spices or jalapeno pepper.  Accompany with fruity white wine.

Jack: Extremely popular American cow’s-milk cheese, it’s soft in texture and has an acidic tang; often flavored with jalapeno peppers.

Kasseri: A firm, fairly mild sheep’s-milk cheese that is often fried and served with ouzo in Greek cuisine.

Mascarpone: A very creamy, fresh cheese soft enough to eat with a spoon, best known for its essential role in the classic Italian dessert tiramisu.

Mozzarella: Fresh mozzarella, often made with buffalo’s milk, has a sweet milky flavor and tender texture that bears little resemblance to the American versions used for pizza. Mozzarella comes in small balls floating in containers of water and is delicious paired with tomato slices and basil and drizzled with olive oil.

Munster: Originally produced by Benedictine monks in the eighth century.  It’s a rich, creamy, semisoft cheese with an orange rind that is especially good paired with sausage and on sandwiches.

Parmigiano Reggiano: Hard, partially skimmed cow’s milk cheese from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Has a burnished, golden rind, yellowish white to straw colored interior (darkens with age); enormous, piquant, slightly salty flavor.  Relatives include Pecorino Romano, American Dry Jack, Dutch aged Gouda and American Parmesan. Good with big Italian breads.

Provolone: Originally made from buffalo’s milk but now produced from cow’s milk.  This semisoft cheese is mild when young but grows shaper with age. Great with roasted peppers, salami and crusty Italian bread.

Raclette: From both France and Switzerland, this cheese is traditionally warmed along the cut edge by a fire and scraped onto a plate, then eaten with boiled potatoes, ham and cornichons.

Roquefort: This rindless French sheep?s -milk blue cheese is soft but crumbly and moist.  It has an ivory-colored interior with profuse green-blue veining and intense, complex, spicy flavor. Pair with strong reds or sweet whites such as Sauternes.

Saga Blue: A rich, white triple crème cheese with a creamy Brie texture and mellow blue flavor.  Created in Denmark in the 1970?s. Good with pears and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Saint Andre: Rich, buttery, triple creme cheese with a crisp, clean flavor that pairs well with tropical fruits for dessert.

Stilton: English cow’s-milk blue cheese. Has a dry, rough, brownish rind; ivory-colored interior with liberal greenish-blue veining, pronounced full, rich, cheesy flavor; moist, firm yet crumbly texture; huge, spicy aroma.  Italian gorgonzola is a relative. Serve with robust reds, sherry or port.

Sources  “Cheese Primer? by  Steven Jenkins (Workman, $16.95)  and ‘The New Basics” by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (Workman, $18.95).

 

References:http://cheese.about.com/od/cheesebuyingguide/a/raw_cheese.htm

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Recipe by Back To Organic at http://backtoorganic.com/how-to-create-and-cheese-and-fruit-platter/