Saturday, May 14, 2011

Quick appetizers.....

Have you even been invited to a friends place for dinner, and need to put together a quick appetizer, or invited guests over and wanted to put together something simple?  Here's a quick guide.
You'll need:
  • cutting board
  • 2-3 different types of cheese, I usually select a hard (Parmesan style), soft (Brie or goat style) and semi-hard (cheddar style).  I also try to select varying colors of cheese as well.
  • a great type of cracker.  This is my absolute favorite. La Panzanella Rosemary croccani crackers.
  • Sprig of herb, for garnish
  • Almonds, pecans or nut that will go great with cheese.  I avoid peanuts of cashews.  While I do like them, I don't find they mix well with cheese.  Almonds are truely the best with cheese.  They type without the brown skin is even better.  Planters now make a small package of "skinned" almods with olive oil and sea salt.
  • If you wish, a piece of seasonal fruit.  Pears or apple go VERY well.  If you can get figs, they are a personal favorite.  When using pears of apples, use the juice of a lemon or lime and about a cup of cold water, slice the fruit thinly, and submerge the slices into the juice water mixture.  If these are too complicated for you, grapes seem to be a natural pairing with cheese. For grapes, cut the stems into small clusters.  you can de-stem them, but they make a better presentation as small clusters.
Select cheeses the vary in shapes and are distinctive. Hard are typically in a wedge, semi hard can  be in bricks, and soft I find usually in a log shape, although brie is a wedge.  When setting up the cutting board, I take into account how many people and the format of the party.  I will usually slice about 1/2 of each cheese, so that if someone is interested in buying the cheese afterward, they will know what to find.  If it a bigger party, I will slice all of the cheese, so that no one has to "work" during the party.  In addition, if there is leftovers the cheese keeps better as a whole.  Slice the amount of cheese you'd like to present. Arrange the cheeses to complement the other cheeses, incorporating the fruit and the crackers.


As you can see from the picture, I did not use fruit, but opted for salami.

Clockwise from the left hand side, Crackers, Havarti with Caraway, Mozzarella rolled with sun-dried tomato and basil, Tillamook Smoked White Cheddar with Black Pepper and Hard Dry Salami.

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