Easy Entertaining with a Cheese Platter

Easy Entertaining with a Cheese Platter

Thank you to Fromager d’ Affinois for sending me a variety of cheeses to try and photograph for this post. All ideas and opinions are my own.

Tips for Creating a Cheese Board - A Well Crafted Party

If you entertain often, then cheese platters are your friend.* Not only are they delicious, but they are filling and SO easy to put together! When pressed for time, or bring an appetizer to a potluck party, or even when I just have a lot going on, I reach for my cheese boards and hit the deli section of my local grocery store.

Tips for Creating a Cheese Board - A Well Crafted Party

Tips for Creating a Cheese Board - A Well Crafted Party

Tips for creating a successful cheese platter:

  1. Buy a few different cheeses, but cap it at five different cheeses. Choice is awesome, but being overwhelmed by choice is not so fun. Keep your platters simple by choosing three to five cheeses to feature. For this platter I used three different flavors of cheese from the same brand of cheese, Fromager d’AffinoisBy going with the same type of cheese, with different flavors, I am able to let my guests enjoy discovering the differences in one type of cheese. You can also go with selections from different types of cheese to give additional variety.
  2. Make sure the cheese is easy to serve. There is nothing more awkward then trying to get some cheese off of a cheese platter that is too difficult to cut or there isn’t a cheese knife around to help get the cheese from the platter to the cracker. To ease the cheese serving conundrum pre-slice hard cheeses, put out cheese knives that are sturdy enough to cut the cheeses available, and make sure you have something to spread soft cheeses onto crackers. This platter features there soft cheeses (which I LOVE for entertaining) that are really easy to cut through with a simple cheese knife and spread onto a cracker.
  3. Serve cheese at room temp. You certainly don’t want your cheeses sitting out for hours, but cheese straight from the fridge won’t have the depth of flavor or ease of serving as one that has gotten to room temperature.
  4. Label your cheeses. I don’t know if there is anything quite as alarming to the palette than to think you are about to enjoy a nice double creme brie to get a tangy goat cheese flavor in return. While I’d love both types of cheese, it sure does help to know what is coming my way! It becomes even more important when you have the option of tasty accompaniments or toppings.  Whether you simple write out cheese names on a piece of paper and lay it next to the cheese or get fancy and print out specific labels, your guests will appreciate you taking the time to label!
  5. Don’t forget the accompaniments! Crackers are great for serving up with a good cheese platter. They are easy to store in the pantry for use at a moments notice, they make it easy to serve the cheese from the plate to your belly, and generally, can go with almost any kind of cheese. If you want to have a little more fun with your cheese platter you might think about alternative food items that might serve as a good cheese-to-belly delivery tool. Some cracker-alternative options include sliced cured meats, vegetables, breads, and different types of fruit. Is there anything better than a slice of aged cheddar on a crisp, ripe apple slice?
  6. Toppings set your platter apart. You’ve got the cheese all to temp and labeled, and your accompaniments are at the ready… it is time to think about what might really set your platter apart and make your cheese choices sing! Toppings such as pepper jelly, fig jam, apricot spread or even honey all make for tasty additions to a cheese platter. Have some fun putting out toppings so guests can mix and match.

Tips for Creating a Cheese Board - A Well Crafted Party

Tips for Creating a Cheese Board - A Well Crafted Party

More ideas for your cheese platters:

About Fromager d’Affinois:

Fromager d’Affinois is the top-selling cheese for Fromagerie Guilloteau. It is a smooth double cream cheese expresses that has been delicately matured. In addition to the original Fromager d’Affinois, this cheese also comes in flavors of Garlic & Mixed Herbs, Olive, Truffle, and Pepper. I tried the original, mixed herbs bleu and pepper varieties— all of which were creamy and flavorful! The high fat-content of this cheese positions it halfway between a traditional Brie and a triple-cream cheese. I was able to find this cheese at my local Whole Foods Market.

*Cheese platters are your friend unless you do not eat dairy, or your guests do not eat dairy. In that case, you may want to make other entertaining friends.

Saturday Spirits: Gin & Herbs Spring Cocktail

Saturday Spirits: Gin & Herbs Spring Cocktail

Herb & Gin Cocktail from A Well Crafted Party

My favorite thing about Spring is the emergence of all the fresh herbs. This cocktail is the perfect mix of fresh herbs and the wonderful aromatics of gin.

Ingredients
Shaker
Muddler
Ice
Rocks glass with Ice
4 Slices of Cucumber (3 for beverage and 1 for garnish)
1 sprig thyme for garnish
1 oz Basil & Thyme Simple Syrup (See recipe below)
½ oz lime juice ( ½ of freshly squeezed lime)
1 ¼ oz Gin
2 oz Sparkling Water (Or Soda Water)

Directions
1. Put ice, 3 slices of cucumber, 1 oz of basil & thyme simple syrup, squeeze of lime juice, and the half of the lime into a shaker—Muddle
2. Pour gin into shaker, cover, and shake vigorously
3. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice
4. Pour in sparkling water and garnish with cucumber slice and thyme sprig
5. Enjoy!

Herb & Gin Cocktail from A Well Crafted Party

How to Make a Basil & Thyme Simple Syrup
1. Put a handful of basil leaves and several sprigs of thyme into a small sauce pan with 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of water. 2. Stir the mixture as it heats on medium-low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved (about four minutes) 3. Remove from heat and let it sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. 4. Once cooled, taste to see mixture as it sits to get your desired herbal flavor. 5. Once you have your desired flavor pour mixture over a sieve— to strain the solid from syrup—into a jar.The mixture can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one month.

Originally published on InComplete Magazine

Cooking with Spices from RawSpiceBar and a Giveaway!

Cooking with Spices from RawSpiceBar and a Giveaway!

RawSpiceBar spice subscription service featured on A Well Crafted Party

I love cooking. You can take one look at my “A Well Crafted Pantry” section of this blog for proof of that. However, one thing you won’t find in many of my recipes is a variety of spices. I’m sort of simple when it comes to using spices in my cooking. I like using fresh and dried herbs in cooking, but even that I typically limit to two or three different ingredients. Because of that I’ve stayed away from cooking some of my favorite styles of foods. Part of the hesitation is not knowing if I’ll like a certain spice or spice combination. The other is whether I’m going to use it very often. Then of course, there is the cost! Buying ten different spices to create one dish is not easy to do when living on a budget. Cooking with spices always seemed intimidating and expensive.

RawSpiceBar spice subscription service featured on A Well Crafted Party

Enter my new favorite subscription service. I love subscription services. I’m a member of several for my entertainment, to my blog work to simple pleasures we want to enjoy at home such as food or beverages. I was thrilled when asked to try out a new spice-centric subscription service.

The RawSpiceBar is a subscription service perfect for people like me who want to try different spices and spice combinations, but don’t want to spend an arm and a leg trying them out.

For $6/month you get a small batch of spices delivered to your door with a short story about the spices and the region that they come from along with some recipes. The past three month spice batches included:

How much fun is that? I have never cooked ANYTHING with any of these spices. It is a whole new world of cooking at my finger tips.

RawSpiceBar spice subscription service featured on A Well Crafted Party

I originally wanted to try creating my own recipe with the spices. But, since I had never worked with ANY of these spices before, I decided to try out one of the recipes that were provided.

I made the Punjabi Chicken Tikka Marsala using the Punjabi Garam Masala spice mix and the Tandoori Spices. One of the directions on the recipe was to bring the spices back to life by heating them in a dry saucepan on the stovetop. I cannot describe the amazing smells that were in my kitchen. I want to do this with ALL my spices now!

Punjabi Chicken Tikka Marsala recipe from RawSpiceBar featured on A Well Crafted Party.

Punjabi Chicken Tikka Marsala recipe from RawSpiceBar featured on A Well Crafted Party.I made this meal for myself, my husband and my toddler. All three of us ate as much as we could and there was enough for at least 4 more grown adults! I love that the recipes create enough for a crowd. Perfect for when I want to try out a fun new dish with friends.

I do have to say that the recipe card was missing a few bits of important information while cooking. But, the online recipe fixed any of my questions. So, if you read through the card and have questions, jump on the RawSpiceBar website and use the online version of the recipe instead.

Want to give it a shot? Enter the giveaway below for your chance to win one of two 3-month subscriptions to RawSpiceBar! Or, hop on over to RawSpiceBar now to sign up for just $6 a month!

Please read giveaway guidelines. Giveaway begins today, March 26 and ends 12AM PST April 6. Giveaway open to readers in US & Canada only. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to RawSpiceBar for providing me with a sample subscription to try the RawSpiceBar services and share with readers as well as the giveaway subscriptions. All opinions and images are my own. 

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