This past Sunday I hosted wine club – I also went to Richmond, went to Urbanna, and made it back on Sunday morning…an hour and a half before the girls were coming over. There’s just something I seem to crave about putting myself in situations where I absolutely do not have enough time. I once read that people who are frequently late are more optimistic than other people – their perception of how much they can accomplish in a set amount of time is drastically skewed. Yup, that’s me.
And, no, I did not plan on doing this blog post ahead of time. My friend, Jen, showed up a few minutes early for wine club (after her drum lessons down the street – how awesome is that hobby?!) and asked, “so, are we taking blog pics of this?” How could I say no to that?!
A CHEESE BOARD IN UNDER 10 MINUTES
Fortunately, for this Sunday wine afternoon, all I had to do was pull together a cheese board. Unfortunately, by the time I went to Trader Joe’s, came home, unpacked, took a shower, and pulled out serving ware and wine glasses, I only had 10 minutes left on the clock. A cheese board in 10 minutes. Totally doable, right? Right…if you’re just pulling out a block of cheddar and setting out a few crackers. Looking to pull something a bit fancier together? Not so easy. BUT, I managed to get it done and I’m here to share my tricks.
PS Yes, I wore my UVA shirt to celebrate UVA’s first Final Four appearance since 1984.
CHOOSING A VARIETY OF CHEESE
First things first, let’s talk about the star of the show or the cheese board. The Cheese. I swear by Trader Joe’s cheese selection. You seriously cannot beat their cheddar with caramelized onions. Literally, every person on Sunday asked for the details on it. It’s incredible. So, let’s start there. You’ll want to pick 3-4 different cheeses. By different, I mean different textures, consistencies, and levels of flavor.
For this board, I chose 1 hard cheese, 1 soft cheese, and 2 in the middle. For the hard cheese, I went with a classic Parmesan. I used to think parm was reserved solely for Italian dishes, but its bold flavor is perfect with a piece of salami. For the soft cheese, I went with goat as a complement to the strawberries. Had I been feeling fancy, I may have rolled the goat cheese in dried basil first. For the 2 cheeses in the middle, I went with the amazing cheddar that I already mentioned (it’s a softer, crumblier consistency than your average cheddar) and a smoked gouda – always a crowd pleaser, plus I liked adding a round cheese to the mix. For geometry’s sake, of course.
SWEET AND SAVORY ACCOUTERMENTS
What good is a cheese board without some sweet and savory accouterments? I always like to have a meat or two present and for this board I just snagged the least expensive bag of salami at Trader Joe’s. There’s no need to get too complicated here, but it’s perfect for making a little sandwich with the cheese or even eating on its own.
I included two types of nuts for some crunch and a savory snack – roasted, salted almonds and honey roasted peanuts (for a touch of savory and sweet). For a healthy touch, I incorporated strawberries and grapes. For a not so healthy, but sweet, touch, I brought in candied orange slices and chocolate caramels.
ASSEMBLING THE BOARD
Now for the fun part, assembling the cheese board – quickly. So, the trick to assembling a pretty cheese board in under 10 minutes, honestly, is having the serving ware on hand to pull it together. Great serving ware goes a LONG way.
First, you’ll want to have a large-scale wood board – this is the one I have. Ramekins are one of my favorite multi-purpose kitchen items and they’re perfect for holding nuts. Larger items can go in white ceramic dishes – I used this fruit crate for the strawberries (makes sense, right?) and a soup bowl for the chocolates. You can pick up an inexpensive set of cheese knives anywhere, but I’m partial to this gold set. Appetizer plates and fabric cocktail napkins are always a nice touch.
When it came to the food, I started by setting the cheeses across the board in an asymmetrical pattern. You don’t want to look too perfect. Then, I put down the nut ramekins, again in random spots but still covering both sides of the board. In the real estate that was left, I fanned the salami in a trail and did the same with the orange slices for a pop of color. Finally, in any leftover space, I threw a small bunch of grapes – the fuller, the better. You want your cheese board to look overflowing with goodness. Had I had more time, I might have filled in even more with crackers, but, for this occasion, it was easier to cut seconds by laying out the crackers on a platter nearby.
And, there you have it! A gorgeous, delicious cheese board in under 10 minutes.