Along with cocktails and music, cheese plates are an indispensable component of any party. Crowd-pleasing and much easier to assemble than a full-on entree, they’re a great way to offer something substantial without breaking too much of a sweat. And, even though they might not display your culinary prowess in the same way a four-course dinner might, you can still have plenty of fun with them. We recently teamed up with Brian Keyser and Leigh Friend to share some choice pairings from their new book Composing The Cheese Plate. With some unusual selects and sides to complement, these 5 cheese plates will carry you and your parties from Halloween to New Year’s Eve.

west elm - 5 Cheese Plates for Fall and Holiday Entertaining

FALL ENTERTAINING

Cheeses

    Shelburne Farms Raw Milk 2 Year Cheddar

Accompaniments

    Sweet + Spicy Apple Chutney
    Herb Butter Poached Potatoes


west elm - 5 Cheese Plates for Fall and Holiday Entertaining
HALLOWEEN

Cheeses

    Nettle Meadow Kunik
    Roelli Cheese Haus Red Rock

Accompaniments

    Orange Confit
    Orange Fennel Chip
    Balsamic Rosemary Cherry Mustard

west elm - 5 Cheese Plates for Fall and Holiday Entertaining

THANKSGIVING

Cheeses

    Testun di Capra
    Jacobs & Brichford Ameribella

Accompaniments

    Spicy Curry Cashew Brittle
    Pickled Fennel

west elm - 5 Cheese Plates for Fall and Holiday Entertaining

CHRISTMAS

Cheeses

    12 Month Mimolette

Accompaniments

    Herbes de Provence Caramel Corn
    Savory Cherry Chutney

west elm - 5 Cheese Plates for Fall and Holiday Entertaining

NEW YEAR’S EVE

Cheeses

    Old Chatham Kinderhook
    Cricket Creek Tobasi

Accompaniments

    Passion fruit basil seed curd
    Shiitake Salad

west elm - 5 Cheese Plates for Fall and Holiday Entertaining

west elm - 5 Cheese Plates for Fall and Holiday Entertaining

SWEET AND SPICY APPLE CHUTNEY
Makes 3 Cups
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes

    2 cups cider vinegar
    2 cups light brown sugar
    5 garlic cloves
    2 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and sliced or coarsely chopped
    1 ½ teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon red chili flakes
    2 pounds Granny Smith apples
    1 frac12; cups golden raisins
    2 sticks cinnamon
    2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds

Place the vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, salt, and red chili flakes in the blender. Purée on medium-high until smooth, about 1 minute.

Peel the apples with a vegetable peeler and cut out the core. Discard the core. Dice the apples into ¼-inch-thick cubes. They need not be perfectly uniform.

Place the apples, raisins, cinnamon, and mustard seeds in a large saucepan. Pour the vinegar blend over the apples. Simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until almost all the liquid has reduced, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove the cinnamon sticks. Turn o the heat and let cool.

Store in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated. Serve cold, warm, or at room temperature.

Chef’s note: Make ahead. It will keep for up to 2 weeks.

Other cheeses to serve with this accompaniment: Parish Hill Herdsman, San Joaquin Gold, or a fruity washed rind.

Creative suggestions: Serve this chutney with grilled pork chops or a roast ham. You may play around with the spices depending on the season. Try adding some ground clove, nutmeg, or allspice during the holidays.

west elm - 5 Cheese Plates for Fall and Holiday Entertaining

HERB-BUTTER POACHED POTATOES
Makes 3 CUPS
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 Minutes

    2 sprigs rosemary
    2 cups unsalted butter
    2 garlic cloves, lightly cracked 5 sprigs thyme
    1 tablespoon salt
    2 teaspoons black peppercorns

12 ounces baby potatoes, about 1 inch in diameter (such as fingerlings or baby Yukon gold)

Remove the rosemary leaves from the stem. Discard the stem.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue to heat for 2 minutes.

Add the rosemary, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.

Carefully add the potatoes. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, or until the pota- toes are soft but not overcooked. When you pierce a potato with a paring knife, the knife should come out easily.

Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Remove the potatoes from the butter, and drain well before serving.

Keep refrigerated. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chef’s note: Make ahead. They will keep for up to 2 weeks.

Other cheeses to serve with this accompaniment: Taleggio, Cheddar, or Raclette.

Creative suggestion: These are a decadent side dish that can take a meal from good to great. They can easily be made in advance for a party and popped in the oven before dinner.

west elm - 5 Cheese Plates for Fall and Holiday Entertaining

ORANGE CONFIT
Makes 2 CUPS
Prep time: 15 MINUTES
Cook Time: 1 ½ Hours

    4 medium navel oranges
    3 cups granulated sugar
    Pinch of salt

Cut the oranges in half parallel to the ends. Squeeze as much juice out as possible. Reserve the juice.

Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh of each orange to remove it from the rind. Discard. Cut the rind in half, and slice into ¼-inch-thick strips.

Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Place the orange rind strips in the water and blanch for 3 minutes. Strain the rinds, discarding the water. Repeat the blanching process two more times.

After the third blanching, combine the orange rinds, juice, sugar, salt, and 2 cups of water in the pot. Boil over medium heat until the liquid becomes syrupy and thick, about 30 to 45 minutes, or until it reaches 238°F on a thermometer. Remove from the heat and let cool for 20 minutes.

Store in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Chef’s note: Make ahead. It will keep for up to 1 month.

Other cheeses to serve with this accompaniment: Red Hawk, ricotta, or a washed sheep’s-milk cheese.

Creative suggestion: Add a spoonful to your bagel with cream cheese for a bright morning.

BLOOD ORANGE FENNEL CHIP
Makes about 30 chips
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 1-2 Hours

    2 blood oranges
    1 cup granulated sugar
    ¼ cup whole fennel seeds

Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a slicer or mandolin, slice the whole, unpeeled oranges crosswise as thinly as possible.

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil for 1 minute. Turn o the heat and let cool.

Dip an orange slice into the sugar syrup for 2 seconds. Remove the orange slice and let the excess syrup drip o . Repeat with all the slices.

Arrange the orange slices on the bak- ing sheet. Do not let them overlap or they will stick to each other. Sprinkle the fennel seeds over the slices.

Bake for 1 to 2 hours. Rotate the sheet tray every 30 minutes. To see if the oranges are crisp, remove one from the sheet and place it on the counter to cool. When it’s cool, try to snap it. If it bends, continue baking for another 30 minutes.

Remove the chips from the oven. While they’re still warm, lift them o the baking sheet. Place them back on the baking sheet to cool.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Chef’s notes: If you are unable to find blood oranges, you may substitute with navel.

Make ahead. They will keep for up to 1 month with no humidity.

Other cheeses to serve with this accompaniment:
San Andreas, Manchego, or a strong sheep’s-milk cheese.

Creative suggestions: Use other fruits like apple, pear, or pineapple. Experiment with different seasonings.

west elm - 5 Cheese Plates for Fall and Holiday Entertaining

BALSAMIC ROSEMARY CHERRY MUSTARD
Makes 2 Cups
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 2 Days

    1 cup yellow mustard seeds
    1 cup balsamic vinegar
    ¼ cup dry red wine (e.g, pinot noir)
    ⅓ cup dried cherries
    1 ½ tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, removed from the stem
    ⅓ cup light brown sugar ¼ teaspoon salt

Combine the mustard seeds, vinegar, and red wine in a 32-ounce glass jar or container. Let the mustard seeds soak, covered, at room temperature for at least 12 hours or overnight.

Using a paper towel, lightly oil your knife blade with a little olive oil. This will help keep the cherries from sticking to the knife. Chop the cherries into small pieces.

Chop the rosemary into fine pieces.

Add the cherries, rosemary, light brown sugar, and salt to the soaked mustard seeds. Using a hand blender, blend the mixture until it starts to thicken and hold its shape a bit. Do not blend too much; you want to avoid breaking apart the seeds and turning the mixture into a purée. (But even if you blend it a little too much, it will still taste good.)

If you are using a standing blender or food processor, pulse the mustard a few times to get to the desired consistency.

Chef’s note: Make ahead. It will keep for up to 3 weeks.

Other cheeses to serve with this accompaniment: Bleating Heart Cheese Bu Blue or Gorgonzola.

Creative suggestions: Spread it on top of toasted bread with duck confit, or pair it with lamb chops.

west elm - 5 Cheese Plates for Fall and Holiday Entertaining

SPICY CURRY CASHEW BRITTLE
Makes 2 Quarts
Prep Time: 10 MINUTES
Cook Time: 30 MINUTES

CAUTION: Hot, sticky caramel is not something you want to get on your skin. Trust me. If you are inexperienced with making caramel, I recommend wear- ing heavy-duty dish gloves and a long- sleeved shirt to help protect your hands and forearms.

    3 cups unsalted cashew pieces
    ½ teaspoon salt
    2 cups granulated sugar
    1 cup light corn syrup
    1 tablespoon plus
    1 teaspoon Madras yellow curry powder
    ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
    3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    ½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Spread the nuts on a baking sheet covered with a nonstick baking liner. Sprinkle the nuts evenly with the salt. Set aside.

Combine the sugar, 1 cup of water, and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Continue cooking the sugar. It will thicken and change color as it cooks.

While the sugar is boiling, place the nuts in the oven to warm up, which will make it easier to spread the brittle.

Once the sugar mixture begins to change color and caramelize, reduce the heat to medium-low. When the color reaches medium amber, turn o the heat.

With a heat-resistant spatula, gently stir in the curry powder, cayenne, butter, and baking soda. Mix well.

Remove the nuts from the oven and add to the caramel. Mix well.

Spread the brittle on the warm baking sheet, smoothing it out with the spatula. If the brittle seems too thick to spread, it has cooled down too much. Place the brittle in the oven for 2 minutes, remove, and try to spread again.

Let the brittle cool to room tempera- ture in a dry place. Humidity is sugar’s enemy. Once it gets in, you can’t get it out.

When the brittle is cool, break it into pieces of desired size and store in an air- tight container.

Chef’s notes: Work quickly but carefully. The longer you stir the caramel, the cooler it will get and the harder it will be to work with.

Make ahead. It will keep for up to 1 month with no humidity.

Other cheeses to serve with this accompaniment: Gouda, dry Jack, or another firm cheese.

Creative suggestion: Chop the brittle into small pieces and bake into cookies or mix into ice cream for a great added crunch.

west elm - 5 Cheese Plates for Fall and Holiday Entertaining

PICKLED FENNEL
Makes 4 Cups
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 2 Days

    2 medium fennel bulbs
    2 garlic cloves
    1 cup white wine vinegar
    ½ cup rice vinegar
    ½ cup granulated sugar
    2 tablespoons salt
    1 ½ teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
    ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
    ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
    1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds

Cut the tops o the fennel bulbs, and reserve for making stock. Cut the fennel bulbs in half lengthwise. Using the tip of a knife, cut an upside down V in the core on the bottom of each half bulb. Remove the core and discard. Slice the fennel into 1⁄8-inch-thick slices. Place the slices in a 32-ounce glass pickling jar. Set aside.

Using the flat side of the blade of a chef’s knife, crush the garlic cloves. Place them in a saucepan with 1 cup of water and the remaining ingredients.

Bring the pickling liquid to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Remove the liquid from the heat and pour over the fennel until covered. Immediately place the lid on the jar while the contents are still hot. Allow the pickles to cool to room temperature.

Once cool, store in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for 2 days before serving to properly infuse the flavors.

Chef’s note: Make ahead. They will keep for up to 1 month.

Other cheeses to serve with this accompaniment: Spoonwood Cabin Cuvette, Jasper Hill Farm Willoughby, or Munster.

Creative suggestion: As with a lot of our accompaniments, this one is a great addition to a sandwich.

west elm - 5 Cheese Plates for Fall and Holiday Entertaining

HERBES DE PROVENCE CARAMEL CORN
Makes 3 Quarts
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes

    2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or canola oil
    5 ounces dry popcorn kernels
    ½ teaspoon baking soda
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    2 ounces unsalted butter
    1 cup light brown sugar
    ¼ cup light corn syrup
    2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
    1 teaspoon salt

Over medium-high heat, warm a large stockpot, with the lid on, for 3 minutes. Remove the lid and add the oil. Drop a couple of kernels of popcorn in the pot and cover. Continue cooking until the kernels have fully popped.

Add the rest of the kernels. Shake vigorously, keeping your hand on the lid, for about 5 minutes or until the popping slows to several seconds between pops.

Remove the pot from the heat, remove the lid, and pour the popcorn into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons warm water, the baking soda, and the vanilla extract. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup to a boil. Continue to cook until the mixture has reached 260°F as measured with a digital thermometer, about 5 minutes. Turn o the heat.

Add the baking soda mixture. Stir well. The mixture will bubble a bit.

Add the herbes de Provence and salt, and stir well, about 20 seconds.

Pour the caramel over the popcorn. Stir the popcorn until well coated, and spread on the baking sheet.

Bake the popcorn for 20 minutes, tossing occasionally with a spatula. Remove a kernel and set it on the counter until cool. Test it to make sure it’s crispy. If it’s still chewy, continue to bake for another 10 minutes. Repeat the test.

When the popcorn is crisp, remove the baking sheet from the oven and set it on a heat-proof surface. Continue to stir the hot popcorn until it’s cool, to prevent it from sticking together.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Chef’s note: Make ahead. It will keep for up to 1 month.

Other cheeses to serve with this accompaniment: Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Moses Sleeper, or any firm, nutty cheese.

Creative suggestions: Play around with the seasonings. Indian garam masala or pump- kin pie spice are great substitutes for the herbes de Provence.

west elm - 5 Cheese Plates for Fall and Holiday Entertaining

SAVORY CHERRY CHUTNEY
Makes 2 Cups
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes

    7 pods star anise
    1 small sweet onion
    1 pound dried sour cherries
    1 cup rice vinegar
    ½ cup granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    Grated zest from ½ lime

Place the star anise in a 6 x 6-inch piece of cheesecloth. Tie closed with twine and set aside.

Cut the onion into ⅛-inch-thick pieces. The onions need not be perfectly uniform in size, but they should be small.

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 15 minutes.

Remove the onions from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Put the onions back in the pot, and add ½ cup water, the star anise (in the cheesecloth pouch), and the remaining ingredients.

Cook the cherry mixture on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Remove the star anise.

Place a quarter of the cherries in the blender, and purée on high until smooth, adding a bit of the cooking liquid if necessary, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the puréed cherries back into the saucepan and stir to combine.

Store the chutney in an airtight container and chill. Keep refrigerated. Serve at room temperature.

Chef’s note: Make ahead. It will keep for up to 2 weeks.

Other cheeses to serve with this accompaniment: Ameribella, fontina, or a savory blue.

Creative suggestion: Sweet or spicy salamis pair well with this chutney.

west elm - 5 Cheese Plates for Fall and Holiday Entertaining

PASSIONFRUIT BASIL-SEED CURD
Makes 2 Cups
Prep time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes

    5 ounces frozen passionfruit juice
    ¼ cup granulated sugar
    2 eggs
    2 egg yolks
    2 tablespoons butter, cold
    Pinch of salt
    1 ½ teaspoons basil seeds

Fill a medium mixing bowl half full with ice, and place it in the freezer

Pour 3 inches of water into a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer.

In a medium heat-proof bowl, combine the juice, sugar, eggs, and egg yolks Set the bowl over the simmering water Cook, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the eggs.

Continue cooking and whisking for 5 to 7 minutes At this point the liquid should be slightly foamy. Continue whisking until the bubbles are few and the texture has thickened, about 3 more minutes Be careful not to overcook the eggs; doing so will create an undesirable eggy taste and grainy texture.

Dip a spatula in the curd and lift it out.

Run your finger horizontally through the middle of the curd. If the curd holds its shape, it’s done. If it runs, keep cooking and whisking.

Once the curd is cooked, immediately transfer it to a blender, and blend on high for 2 minutes.

While the curd is blending, remove the bowl from the freezer, and fill it halfway with cold water.

Carefully add the butter and salt to the blender. Continue to blend on high for 20 seconds.

Place the blender container holding the curd in the ice bath Stir in the basil seeds.

Once the curd is cool, pour it into an airtight container. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Other cheeses to serve with this accompaniment: Bright, fresh cheeses like chèvre, farmer’s cheese, or mascarpone.

Creative suggestions: Combine the recipe with 3 cups stiff whipped cream, and pour the mixture into a graham cracker crust. Refrigerate for 2 hours, top with toasted coconut, and you have an easy, light pie.

Chef’s notes: Frozen passion fruit juice can sometimes be found in the frozen-foods aisle at an ethnic grocer Beware that some brands add sugar. If the brand you purchase contains added sugar, reduce the amount of sugar in this recipe to 2 tablespoons

Make ahead It will keep for up to 1 week

west elm - 5 Cheese Plates for Fall and Holiday Entertaining

SHIITAKE SALAD
Makes 1 ½ Cups
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes

    1 pound shiitake mushrooms
    4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    1 teaspoon salt
    ¼ red bell pepper
    2 scallions
    3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Remove the stems from the shiitakes.

Discard. Slice the caps into 1⁄8-inch strips and place in a medium mixing bowl.

Toss the sliced mushrooms with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and salt until coated.

Spread the mushrooms evenly on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until most of the mushrooms are slightly crispy and brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn the baking sheet at least one time during cooking. Once they’re crispy, remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

Finely dice the red pepper.

Slice the green tops of the scallions into very thin rounds, discarding the white bottoms.

Place the mushrooms back in the mixing bowl with the red pepper, scallions, vinegar, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss to coat the mushrooms evenly.

Store the mushrooms in an airtight container and keep refrigerated. Serve at room temperature.

Chef’s note: Make ahead. It will keep for up to 3 days.

Other cheeses to serve with this accompaniment: Halloumi, Jasper Hill Willoughby, or Chiriboga Blue.

Creative suggestions: Try this salad with a cheese omelet for breakfast, or use it as a different kind of taco topping.

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Christine Shaw-Taylor

November 9, 2016

I can’t wait to try the orange confit; then I’ll try the rest. They all look so delicious.

Sonja Anderson

November 10, 2016

What grand ideals. I enjoy entertaining especially during the holidays. I can’t wait to try some of these receipts.

christie thorold

November 15, 2016

Love the recipes

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