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Dishing out the perfect cheese platter

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Whether it’s a dinner party or a small gathering of friends, a cheese platter can be a versatile appetiser, dessert or a snack to go with drinks.

And it’s not hard to prepare one ahead of time if you know how. Refrigerators like the Electrolux EQE6307SA come with a Deli compartment for storing delicate foods like cheeses. The fridge’s extra-wide compartments can then be used to store pre-prepared platters for easy retrieval at party time.

Cheese plate
By JoeyBLS Photography
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Traditional cheese plates usually have the cheese arranged from mildest to strongest in a clockwise direction.

How much cheese?

Figure out how many cheeses you’ll serve and whether it’ll be a light meal, a dessert or more of an hors d’oeuvre.  If the cheese is an appetiser or dessert course, look at serving 30 to 40 grams of cheese per person. If it’s for a light meal or part of a multi-course dinner, serve about 90 to 110 grams of cheese per diner. For meals where the cheese is the main course, plan for about 200 grams of cheese per person.

Always serve up an odd number of cheese options.  The plate should have three, five or seven types of cheeses rather than two, four or six.  This is more for visual effect, as the balance of odd numbers is more pleasing aesthetically.

Which cheeses?

While the rules for assembling a cheese plate are not set in stone, traditionalists advocate a variety of textures and tastes.  An example could be a platter with a soft Camembert, a hard cheese like Comte and a blue cheese like Gorgonzola.

You may want to have at least one or two familiar cheeses if your guests are not particularly adventurous. You can also select cheeses with differing milk sources like cow, goat or sheep. Try to pick one cheese from each of the following categories.

Aged Cheeses: Aged cheddar, goat Gouda, Swiss, Comte

Soft Cheeses: Brie, Camembert, Constant Bliss, Brillat-Savarin

Firm Cheeses: Gruyere, Jarlesberg, Monterey Jack, Provolone, Manchego, Parmigiano-Reggiano

Blue Cheeses: Stilton, Gorgonzola, Valdeón, Dolcelatte

What to go with it?

Accompaniments
By Andrea Goh
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Accompaniments to the cheese can range from bread and crackers to dried fruits, chutneys and jams. 

 

A cheese platter is usually accompanied by crackers or bread, as well as fruit or vegetables. Some foods can intensify and even change the flavour of the cheese. In general, it is good to vary the textures and tastes of the accompaniments.  Serve flavoured crackers with mild cheeses. The cheese will accentuate the flavour in the cracker. Slices of bread or baguettes work well with cheeses that are spread easily, like brie.

Dried fruits, chutney, wine jelly, slices of pear or apple or sun-dried tomatoes all go well with cheeses. Less common accompaniments include edamame, maple syrup, honey or caramelised onions with the cheeses. Cured meats like prosciutto and salami can also be used in cheese plates.

How to arrange them?

If the cheese is being served as a course, place them from mildest to strongest clockwise. Blue cheese is usually the strongest on the plate, followed by cheeses with washed rinds. Keep them within the rim of the plate.

If you have strong-smelling, pungent cheeses, place them on a separate plate so they don’t overpower their more delicate neighbours. A separate knife should be set out for each type of cheese. Butter knives can spread soft cheeses, while firm cheeses might need a paring knife and aged cheeses might require a cheese plane.

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