Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How To Serve The Best Cheese Tray

No matter what type of event you are hosting, a cheese tray can be an excellent addition. Cheese trays are versatile as you can include as many different types of cheese you want, including your particular favorites. It is a great chance to tempt the tastebuds of your guests before the meal is served, making it a classic option for appetizers. Keep the following things in mind and you will have no problem serving the best cheese tray.

Selecting Cheeses

When you pick the cheeses for your tray, aim to select at least three or four different options. You want as wide of a range of flavors and textures that you can find. This means you should include some blue cheeses, some soft ones, some hard ones, and some aged ones. Always be sure to include one cheese (at least) that your guests will already know and love and don’t be afraid to buy sheep or goat cheese as well.

What Else To Include

Most of the time, your guests won’t want to eat cheese all by itself, unless it is a bite-sized morsel such as cheddar cube or a cheese curd. Even then, it is a good idea to have crackers, bread sticks, and sliced baguettes on the tray to eat with the cheese. As with the cheese, opt for bread and crackers of different flavors and textures. Also consider including chutneys, nuts, or fresh fruit and vegetables to complement the cheese.

Use Labels

While you may not need to label basic cheeses, such as cheddar or mozzarella, it is a good idea to label all unusual or potentially unfamiliar cheeses on your tray. Either put the label directly on the tray or place a labeled diagram of the cheese tray off to one side. This way when guests enjoy a new flavor and want more, they know what it is called.


When getting ready to serve your cheese tray, you need to take the cheese out of the refrigerator ahead of time. Almost every cheese tastes best at room temperature as the cold will subdue the flavor. This means you should start let them sit outside of the fridge for an hour before organizing the tray or serving it.


When it comes to serving your cheese tray, the presentation is completely up to you. Try to include labels, as mentioned above. Be sure that your tray includes one knife per cheese, particularly the soft or spreadable ones. Also make sure that strong-smelling cheeses are on a separate plate as this will prevent the flavor from overpowering the other options.

Friday, February 20, 2015

How To Host A Cheese And Wine Tasting Party For New Year’s Eve

Wine and cheese parties are one of the most classic types of gatherings due to their versatility and fun. This is a great chance for you and your guests to try new types of wine and cheese, finding new favorites. Having your party on New Year’s Eve is even better as you don’t have to worry about it going too long or drinking too much wine - after all, everyone wants to be up until midnight or later anyway.

Formal Vs Informal

The first thing you have to decide is if you want your cheese and wine tasting party to be formal or informal. A formal party will typically be a sit-down affair. You will prepare plates of cheese with various glasses of wine and have them planned out, including which order to serve them in. Formal parties usually include breaks for discussion of each item between courses.

Informal cheese and wine tasting parties tend to be stand-up affairs and better for larger crowds. You would simply arrange various cheeses on platters with labels indicating their names, origins, and suggested pairings. Do the same for the wines at another station. You can either keep the cheese in one area and the wine in another or spread them throughout the space based on suggested pairings.

Select A Range Of Each

One of the most important aspects of hosting a cheese and wine tasting parties on New Year’s Eve is making sure that there is enough variety. You want to have at least three or four different cheeses and the same number of wines on hand. Make sure that there are cheeses of different ages, firmness, textures, and flavors. Don’t forget to include snacks such as fruit and nuts to cleanse the palate and help soak up some of the wine.

Considering Pairings

Perhaps the most stressful part of hosting a party for tasting wine and cheese is figuring out the pairings. Either ask an expert or find some guidelines online. Fresh cheese, such as ricotta, feta, mozzarella, goat cheese, and burrata, for example do best with wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. If you want to keep it simple, then opt for a dry red or white wine. Champagne will work with most cheese as well, making it perfect for New Year’s Eve. Keep in mind, however, that there are no hard rules when it comes to cheese pairings. As long as guests are happy, they can eat whichever cheese with any of the wines on offer.

Have Guests Bring Items

A great idea to take some of the stress out of hosting a cheese and wine tasting party (especially on a big night like New Year’s Eve) is to ask your guests to bring some of the items. Either select a theme (such as a region the items should be from) or let them bring whatever they want. Just be sure that you divide up who brings cheese and who brings wine so there is enough of each.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

How Is American Cheese Different Than In Other Countries?

Cheese is a nearly universal food as it can be found throughout the world. An interesting thing to note, however, is that when you look at cheese made in the United States and that made in Europe, there are actually several very important differences. While all cheese is delicious, if you want to become familiar with all types of cheese, it helps to understand these variations.

Cheese Known As “American Cheese”

The first thing to consider is what exactly is meant by American cheese. This term typically refers to a particular style of cheese, but it can also simply mean cheese that is produced and sold in the United States. The following paragraphs will talk about cheese made in America, but it is important to also consider the style of American cheese. This cheese tends to be processed and either white, yellow, or orange. The traditional recipe included a combination of cheddar, colby, and other cheeses, but today a great deal of “American cheese” is simply a “cheese product” as it doesn’t contain enough cheese to be classified as cheese.

Added Ingredients

When looking at cheese produced in the United States, you will notice that it typically contains more additives and extra ingredients, such as colorings and preservatives than the European alternatives. In fact, the typical Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese found in the United States, for example, contains, cheese cultures, potassium sorbate, and cellulose powder, none of which you will find in the European version of this cheese.

Pasteurized Milk

Another difference between American cheeses and international ones is the type of milk that is used. Because of safety concerns, mainly those related to bacteria, the vast majority of American cheese is made using pasteurized milk as this process reduces the risk of bacterial growth. In fact, it can be nearly impossible to find a “raw cheese” which is made with unpasteurized milk in the United States. Other countries, however, tend to offer both types of cheese as there is a demand for both and they have accepted that the production and aging process helps reduce the risk of any bacteria-related problems.

Meaning Behind The Name

Perhaps the biggest difference between American made cheese and those made around the world, and the one that has recently got the most attention on the news, is the name of the product. In Europe, the name of a particular cheese refers to where it originated. This means that if you buy Parmigiano-Reggiano in Europe, it will have been made in the Emilia-Romagna area of Italy. If you buy it in the United States, however, it is simply made to imitate this particular Italian cheese. While names such as Gruyere and Asiago refer to styles of cheese in the U.S., they refer to the style of cheese as well as where it was produced.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Gluten-Free Cheesy Recipes For The Holidays

Just because you are allergic to gluten or choose to be gluten-free doesn’t mean you will have to miss out on all of your favorite holiday treats. From main dishes to appetizers to desserts, you can easily make gluten-free versions of your favorite cheesy recipes. Here are just some holiday ideas to get you started.

Macaroni And Cheese

Since the holidays are during winter, something warm and comforting like macaroni and cheese is the perfect way to stay warm. The secret for this dish is to use some potato starch and gluten-free puffed-rice cereal to supplement gluten-free pasta, letting it keep the texture. The traditional cheese for this dish would be cheddar, but you can get creative too. You can even make a baked macaroni and cheese with similar ingredients, but by adding cottage cheese and gluten-free “bread” crumbs.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Winter is a great time for cheesecake and just because Thanksgiving already passed doesn’t mean it’s too late eat pumpkin. You can make a delicious gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake with a crust made from almond meal, crushed almonds, white sugar, baking soda, ground cinnamon, and butter. As with any cheesecake, this recipe relies on sour cream and cream cheese as the cheese component, making a delicious, cheese-filled holiday dessert.

Holiday Pizza

This gluten-free recipe is delicious enough to eat year round and while pizza traditionally uses mozzarella cheese, you can let your creativity flow and try some goat cheese, parmesan, or even cheddar. The secret to making this cheesy dish a success is making your own gluten-free pizza dough. Boil potatoes and put them through a ricer. Combine yeast, agave, and water together so it foams, then add in your potatoes along with a bit of salt, tapioca starch, and rice flour. mix together, then add oil and egg whites, let it sit in a warm spot, and you will have gluten-free pizza dough. To make this particular pizza ready for the holidays, pick festive toppings, such as red and green peppers and you can even arrange them in the shape of a Christmas tree.

Bacon Cheese Appetizer Squares

Don’t let the gluten-eating people have all the fun and choices when it comes to appetizers at a holiday party. Instead of sticking to the vegetable platter (minus the dip), make some gluten-free bacon cheese squares. Just use a Gluten Free refrigerated pastry and pie dough and some gluten-free onion and chive cream cheese, throwing in bacon, grape tomatoes, and green onions. 

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