I just love Christmas, and for me festive season entertaining is all about gathering around the table to share the joy of delicious food, great conversation and wonderful company. Christmas is a time to indulge of course, but that doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours in the kitchen; in my experience, there are ways you can provide a feast for your loved ones with the minimum of fuss. One of those ways I’ve found is to include a generous cheese board dotted with preserves and other little accompaniments to nibble on as you engross yourself in conversation. For me, it is all about the flavour, but it also has to be easy; so to help make entertaining easier for you, I’m really delighted to be teaming up with Marley Spoon this year, offering my Maggie Beer Selections in Marley Spoon boxes during November and December, in either 2-person or 4-person sizes.
If you’re not sure on how to put together the perfect cheese board for a delicious platter to share amongst friends and family, here are my tried and tested tips on how to serve my selections, including the best ways to store and serve cheeses.
The essential cheese board elements
When I’m entertaining, I often like to have a beautiful cheese board on display; not only is it delicious as well as a feast for the eyes, but it’s so easy to put together as well. I love to include a selection of soft and firm cheeses, to have that play of texture and varied flavours. For example you could feature a deliciously crumbly Club Cheddar alongside either my creamy Classic Camembert or an indulgent, buttery Truffle Triple Cream Brie (that has a wonderfully nutty flavour - one of my favourites!). A fragrant fruit paste is a must-have for any cheeseboard, and if you’re looking for something extra special, you could serve my luscious Pheasant Farm Pate, – which can be spooned straight from the tub onto crackers or some crusty bread. If it is warm I like to sit my pate in a bowl of ice, next to the cheese board, to keep it chilled. Of course you can’t forget the crackers, so I’ve included thr sea-salt Oven-Baked Crackers, which are the perfect thickness, size and crunchiness.
Bring cheese to room temperature
To achieve that wonderfully gooey texture, soft cheeses are best served at room temperature. If the cheese is too cool, all of those beautiful flavours will be dulled and you won’t get that oozy texture. In summer, generally you can remove your soft cheeses from the fridge an hour or so before serving. Leave them on the kitchen bench while they come up to room temperature. However, if it’s quite hot where you are or the cheese has been out too long, it may sweat and become overly melty and soft, so use your judgement. Hard cheeses and pate on the other hand should be chilled until just before serving.
Keep things simple
Once you’re happy with the temperature of the cheeses, unwrap and place them whole on your favourite cheese board or large wooden board from your kitchen; a nice chopping board will do. To keep things simple, you can serve the Pheasant Farm Pate straight from its little tub with a few small spoons on the side, but I like to turn my Quince Paste out onto the board, by running a knife around the edge of the tub, for people to dive straight into! Fill in the space around the paste and cheese with your crackers, then place a few knives around the board, one for the soft cheese and one for the firmer cheese. While it’s trendy these days to serve a cheese board very full with accompaniments, I don’t like to overcrowd the board too much, ensuring there is enough space for my guests to be able to cut the cheese as they like. If you’d like to add a few more items to your board, try a sprinkling of toasted almonds and dried fruit.
Treat your leftovers with care
This is rarely the case in my experience when such wonderful and flavourful cheeses are present, but if by some miracle you have some leftover cheese, it’s important to store it correctly to make sure you can enjoy it another day. Always wrap leftover soft cheeses in waxy, grease-proof paper and hard cheeses in plastic wrap, placed in an airtight container and keep refrigerated. If you keep the quince paste and pate in their own tubs, you can simply pop the lids back on and return to the fridge. Be sure to consume them within the recommended time period.
With these simple steps, you’ll be sure to have a winning cheese board every time, with the very minimum of fuss! To add my exclusive Maggie Beer Selection to an upcoming order, simply visit your account area and edit your order.
Wishing you a relaxing and Merry Christmas, filled with effortless, flavoursome entertaining at home!