It was my daughter’s birthday at the weekend. She turned 25 years old. My gosh, I was rummaging through old photos and dug out the one above of when she turned 6 and just had to post it! (Sorry Em!) Oh my – where did the time go?
In days gone by, when she was small, her birthday parties would consist mostly of cake, fizzy drinks and party games. I well remember the cakes I used to make – the Castle Cake complete with turrets (ice cream cones) was a winner, as was the Pirate’s Trunk Cake full of treasure (Smarties). Don’t even begin to remind me about the sweets, lollies and chips we’d put on the table too.
Today I shudder a little at all that sugar and junk food. Did we know no better? Probably not.
These days we’re lucky to have plenty of nutritional guidance at our fingertips, in the news, on the internet and via health professionals, so if we’re not eating healthy foods as a lifestyle choice I think we really have to ask ourselves “Why Not?”
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Party Cheese Board
Yesterday, for my daughter’s birthday get-together, she requested nibbles and cocktails. And although we included a cake component as a birthday treat, I wanted to include something offering good nutritional value that tasted good too.
What better way to include some healthy but tasty ingredients than to serve a lovely party cheese platter as part of the offerings? In the photo below clockwise – King Island Stokes Point smoked Cheddar (Tasmania), Margaret River Brie (WA), Jindi Deluxe Blue (West Gippsland, Australia).
I love cheese, because it’s tasty, convenient and so versatile. Getting creative with what to put on a cheese platter wasn’t hard for me, especially as there’s such a huge range of Australian cheeses available to choose from.
The other great thing about serving a cheese board was that …
- I could add on other supplementary healthy choices such as celery, grapes, nuts, figs, dates and strawberries and …
- I knew that if all the cheese didn’t get eaten then, due to its versatility, I’d be refrigerating the leftovers and using them across a variety of meals, snacks and lunches over the next week. So no wastage. Winning!
How to create the perfect cheese platter
Some people might say that cheese should be served with nothing more than a knife, but sometimes the best combinations are complementary such as strawberries with brie, or combining opposites such as blue cheese with honey.
You might choose to serve one stunning cheese and one perfect accompaniment to create a Wow factor after dinner, or you could choose a variety of cheeses and different accompaniments if it’s to be more of the main event.
Maybe you’ll find the following tips useful in creating cheese platters too …
- Bring cheese to room temperature before serving.
- Scatter some crackers across the board and put the rest in a bowl to prevent overcrowding.
- Keep your accompaniments simple – they should enhance not overpower your cheese selection.
- Provide a different knife for each cheese.
- Choose cheeses with different shapes, colour and sizes.
- Think about the texture as well as the taste of the cheese – and vary.
- Serve the accompaniment next to the cheese it best goes with.
What to do with leftover cheese
As I write, Dave has gone to work with a cheese sandwich packed with lettuce, cucumber and tomato, and tomorrow we’ll be having Jo’s Super Salad topped with shavings of King Island Cheddar.
Later in the week I’ll be adding some parmesan rind to flavour vegetable soup, and also making a cheese sauce with the final bits and pieces of leftover cheese from the party to create a yummy cauliflower cheese dish for dinner.
Pairing Cheese with Drinks
We like nothing better than to linger longer over a glass of wine with a nice cheese board, and below Dave’s enjoying a shared lunch in Sydney recently.
If you’re making up a cheese board at home think about the textures as well as the flavours that might make a good match. I always think of cheese and wine, but beer, cider, whiskey and tea can also be paired with cheese.
Advice from the experts is to contrast, complement or cleanse but don’t clash when it comes to matching cheese to drinks.
You can find more tips on beverage pairing HERE.
The Facts. What’s in Cheese?
Natural cheese is made from milk, salt, starter culture or ‘good bacteria’ and an enzyme called rennet.
Cheese is a core food within the dairy food group and is a concentrated source of milk’s eight essential nutrients. It also contains calcium and protein for bones and muscles and it’s the second largest source of calcium in the Australian diet. It’s naturally packed with vitamins, minerals and proteins, and is one of the five food groups recommended for good health according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
While writing this post I found out that the calcium found in cheese is important not only for bone health but also dental health, which I didn’t know before.
Just two slices of cheddar cheese provides approximately 10g of protein and because it’s a low GI food it can help keep hunger at bay which answers my question about hunger busters – I find that if I eat a salad on its own for lunch then I’m likely to feel hungry a few hours later, but if I add some light cottage cheese or two small slices of cheddar cheese, I feel full for longer and not so inclined to reach for a snack.
We love this recipe for festive occasions: Watermelon Salad with Feta Cheese
Facts you may not know about cheese.
According to Dairy Australia cheese can help prevent the formation of tooth decay as it contains important teeth friendly nutrients, such as calcium, phosphorus and casein, helping put minerals back into teeth.
Australia produces more than 160 varieties of cheese.
Natural cheeses are gluten-free. However cheeses that have added flavours or those that are processed, may have ingredients sourced from wheat, rye, oats or barley.
Cheese contains many important nutrients other than calcium, such as protein, vitamin B12, potassium, phosphorus and zinc.
How much calcium is in cheese? You can find out here: Calcium Content List of cheeses
Latest science tells us that cheese, like milk and yoghurt, won’t make you put on weight – Read more HERE.
A quick guide to a serve of cheese is equal to 2 slices, or a 4 x 3 x 2cm pice (40g) hard cheese, or half a cup (120g) of ricotta cheese. (You can find out more about serves and how much dairy you need each day HERE.
You’ll find lots of great ideas and recipes here at Cheese Please. This is a wonderful free downloadable resource where you’ll find advice on different cheese styles, how to pair cheese with wine, beer and other drinks, learn the best way to care for and store cheese at home, plus lots of useful tips about use by dates and best before dates.
In doing my research, I went down the proverbial rabbit hole learning about different styles of cheese and how to select cheese, as well as how to create the perfect cheeseboard.
So go on, tell me, if you were creating your perfect party cheese board, what would you choose to include on it?