Ever have a group of friends over last minute for a soiree? Short on time and unsure of what to prepare that can appeal to just about everyone? My friends, this is why the cheese plate or charcuterie board was invented.
Tonight, I've having 10-12 girls over to drink wine, work on our laptops, gossip, and gab about the Oscars. Talk about the perfect way to cap off the end of a gorgeous weekend. I wouldn't want to spend my Sunday night doing anything else, especially when both my roomies were out of town for the weekend! SCORE!
Now, when planning this assortment, you have to take in mind your audience, which is what makes cheese plates so perfect. You can customize them to your heart's desire.
Take this group for example. Knowing us, we'll probably go for a red wine. Since it's Sunday at 7pm, I don't need to go too crazy overboard on the quantity of food, too. Also, because we are watching something as a group, like the Oscars, I want to "class it up" a bit, just like the award show does itself.
So let's start with the cheese:
Rule of thumb at a minimum always go with at least two. One soft and one hard. I usually do 3 (and include a semi-hard).
It's safe to say that people for us about 2-3 oz. per gal will suffice. (I mean come on. Let's be realistic. It's a girl's night with wine) - take wine out of the equation and I'd say 1-2 oz per person.
I love a sharp white cheddar, manchego, goat cheese, brie, and gouda on my cheese plates!
Now the meat:
I'd guess about 2-3 slices of meat per person when building a board like this one. Like the cheese, variety is key. I usually gravitate toward sliced salami, prosciutto and ham -- possibly even summer sausage.
Audience here is still important. For example, if I was going to serve a tray like this to my relatives, we would be having deer sausage and jerky - no ham. They are a wild game type of crowd that likes a hearty meal.
One of the number 1 reasons I love to make the cheese plate is so I can eat it. #celiacproblems . . . . .
I always go with a gluten free baguette (schar is my fave for this, but udis has a good option, too), rice crackers, and nuts (cashews and almonds for sure). When you make it - you know you can count cross contamination out of the equation.
And let's be real -- people love nut thins and forget they are GF, because they are so darn good!
One of the most important components that ties it all together is the sweetness factor - especially with a group of ladies. Grapes always go over well. Don't underestimate a stone fruit, too. Pears can come in clutch. I also like to throw in some dried fruit like dried mango, apricots, and dried cherries.
Another game changer is dark chocolate. With the wine and cheese, I'd be remiss if I forgot to include it in the mix with these gals.
Do you have a favorite cheese? Favorite wine? or cracker/bread? or fruit already in fridge?
My advice is to start from there. Start with what you know you like and work around that. It can be incredibly overwhelming with a million options at the grocery store these days.
At the end of the day, a varied plate will get eaten. There will always be something for everyone. That's what makes them a winner at every get together with friends.
Plus, if your friends and family are anything like mine, give them a glass of wine or two and I guarantee the whole plate will be good as gone before the evening is through.