I could live off of bread and cheese. Well, bread and cheese and wine, anyways. I spent an entire week in Paris earlier this year with 90% of my meals being just that. My husband and I make cheese boards for an easy (and delicious) meal at least once a week. I serve some form of bread and cheese at every party I host. So it’s no surprise that for the holidays this year, I have made one or two (or five) holiday themed cheese boards.
So, as I sit here enjoying some bread and Brie myself, I’ll share my 7 essentials for your own holiday cheese board.
- CHEESE. I suggest including at least 3, or better yet, 4 types of cheese. I usually include one “everybody’s favorite” like gouda or cheddar (hint: sharp cheddar pairs well with fruit and jams), a soft spreadable cheese like Brie or Camembert, and something a little stronger like Roquefort. If including a fourth choice, I use this as a wild card like a wine or herb cheese.
- FRUIT. Sliced pears and apples pair well with Brie and cheddar, respectively. Easy, almost-no-prep fruit like grapes and berries pair well with most cheeses. If you want something that is as pretty as it is delicious, consider fresh figs or pomegranates (just make sure to also seed some pomegranates so that guests can easily grab the seeds).
- NUTS. My favorite kind to add to a cheeseboard are Marcona almonds. They are a Spanish version of almonds that are sweeter and more round than California almonds. I particularly like a variety you can find at Trader Joes that are covered in rosemary and salt.
- FRESH HERBS. Fresh herbs add a little extra flavor to the cheese, and act as decoration as well. My favorite to add are thyme, basil, and/or rosemary. Consider the types of cheese you are serving when choosing herbs. Basil pairs well with mozzarella and rosemary pairs well with bleu cheese.
- BREAD OR CRACKERS. Consider serving a couple different types– baguette slices, crostini, and crackers work here. Make sure that if you serve flavored crackers, you also include plain ones so as not to clash with the cheese and fruit.
- FLOWERS OR OTHER DECORATIONS. Just make sure to use flowers that are not poisonous (and that your guests don’t accidentally eat them). Better yet, add edible flowers. Even grocery stores often sell fresh chamomile.
- WINE. The best part. If you want to get really technical, some wines pair better than others with certain cheeses (more on that in another post), but really, when it comes down to it, guests what to drink what they want to drink. As long as you serve delicious wine and cheese, you can’t go wrong.
- When choosing ingredients for your cheese board, think about a color palette. If you want to go with traditional Christmas colors, you can use fresh green herbs, white cheeses, and red fruit.
- In order to add the most flavor to your board, choose fruits that are in season like pomegranates and blood oranges.
- A delicious alternative to fruit is jam– even better when fresh. Make your own cranberry jam by stirring 10 oz. of cranberries with 1 T. of honey in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 c. apple juice and simmer until the cranberries soften and turn into a jam. Spread on top of brie or in a small dish on the side so guests can spread over sharp cheddar or other strong cheeses.
- When creating your cheese board, start by placing the cheese down in separate areas of the board. Next, fill in the rest with fruit, nuts, and then herbs and finally, flowers. Place some herb springs on top of the cheese.