For those of you who don't or can't cook I'm going to let you in on a little secret...always volunteer to bring a cheese plate. It literally involves no cooking and it seems fancy. People are always down for a cheese plate and it's easy to impress people if you follow a few easy rules.
Pulling together a good cheese plate involves knowing what makes it good. Here are my secrets to the perfect plate...
Obviously the most important part. I like to go for a nice brie, a hard manchego and a mild blue cheese. Usually with this combination everyone is happy. Plus this combination plays nicely with the other things on the plate.
Salty extras include olives and nuts. Splurge for the fancy marcona almonds because they are more decadent than their Monday-Friday snaking almond cousins. I prefer to keep kalamata olives on hand for a cheese plate but if you want to step it up, do a few scoops of the mixed olives at your local olive bar.
Adding meat to the plate will make it definitely more substantial. I like to go with the assorted meat tray from TJs for just the right mix of prosciutto and salami. If you don't have access to a TJs, salami is a great crowd-pleaser for your plate.
Jam and Honey
I am such a salty sweet person that no plate is complete without a jam or honey. I LOVE a good truffle honey with a cheese plate but just regular honey will due. Fig jam compliments the brie and the blue nicely so I will usually include a bowl of that with my cheese plate.
Sort of like the honey and the jam, I like to include fruit with my cheese plate. Because it's winter and pears are in season, I'm sliced up a few of them. I also like to have dates in my cupboard in case I need a quick fruit to pair with cheese. These are the perfect pair for the blue cheese as well.
In terms of presentation, I like to buy rosemary to provide a little contrast to my plates. I also just adore the combination of a slice of wood with a clean white platter. Pair the cheeses with their fruit and meat on the plate. Also, you can fold the meat to make it look a little more fancy and professional.
Serve with some nice crusty baguette or flavorful crackers for an appetizer they are sure to be impressed with. Now wasn't that easy?