I am in the midst of planning a Christmas Eve party with friends and relatives that will have the offerings of assorted meats and cheeses served with accompaniment of cold salads and a few hot side dishes. We try to keep the Christmas Eve celebration easy as we opt for the formal sit down dinner the next day. Our Christmas Eve celebration meal is essentially a build your own sandwich with the offerings of a fresh baked spiral ham, sliced turkey, and roast beef. The meat gets accompanied with choice of cheeses, fresh breads, and assorted condiments.
Just because the fare is considered informal, there is no reason to hold back on creativity. The cheese tray is one item that can definitely be tweaked to present a fun festive appearance. Some quick ideas to making a cheese tray look fancy and fun:
1. Serve it on a mirror
If you have a small platter sized mirror (doesn’t have to be round); this will serve as an excellent serving platter for cheeses. Make the presentation look fancy by cutting the cheese in triangles and fanning them throughout the mirror. The mirror will also display well when it is resting on a festive red or green holiday tablecloth. The food will also not trash the mirror as it wipes away clean at the end of the evening with a hot soapy wash cloth. I learned this trick when I used to work in the hotel kitchen and have used it many times.
2. Serve with fruit
Cheese always tastes and looks delectable when accompanied by fruit. Consider garnishing the tray with fanned strawberries or opt for grapes. Specialty stores may even carry the “mini grapes” which go well with the cheese. Other options include raspberries, blackberries, or kiwi. Make the fruit colors vibrant so they contrast against the pale tones yellow and orange of the cheese.
I know it sounds predictable, but a little bed of kale does not hurt. Try to go with the different dyes of kale as there are other color options beside just the plain green. Kale has more defined and artistic edges than typical bed of lettuce. Try to avoid using the jagged ends of greens such as romaine.
4. Edible Ornaments
Get a little crazy with your cheese display and break out the paring knife and a few veggies. Fun edible garnishes include tomato peel roses, radish roses, apple swans, etc. There are many websites found on the internet that show some simple easy to make vegetable or fruit garnishes.
These are only a few simple tricks to make the holiday cheese tray more fun. Obviously the creativity does not stop there as one can go artistic with the way the cheese is cut or even rolled up if one decides to serve a spreadable cheese in a ball covered with crushed walnuts or almonds. Whatever you do, just make it fun!