Sometimes the most impressive appetizers are the ones that take the least amount of work. This is one of those times.
To be honest, a cheese plate was a last minute addition to my menu. I certainly didn’t expect it to be a showstopper that had multiple people asking for the recipe. I don’t mind sharing recipes, but it’s always a little awkward when I have to admit I made something up on the fly and there really isn’t a recipe.
Luckily, the ingredients themselves are all you need. The focal point of this cheese plate is a wedge of lovely blue cheese, drizzled with honey and topped with toasted walnuts. In one bite you get sharp, sweet, salty, bitter, and creamy. I paired this with rosemary raisin pecan Raincoast Crisps*, which have their own sweet, savory, nutty balance. They work wonderfully with brie or blue cheese.
The blue cheese is up to you. If you have a favorite, by all means stick with it. There is a whole range from mild Gorgonzola to strong Roquefort out there to explore. I usually look for something in the middle, like a Bleu d’Auvergne or other French blue. If unsure what your guests might like, stick to the mild end of the spectrum.
The choice of honey is another area where you can add some personality. I personally love darker honeys like chestnut*. The deep, nutty flavor of the honey can stand up to a strong, sharp blue cheese better than a mild honey. Sunflower honey* has a delightful, nutty flavor that would also work well here. In general, pair a lighter honey with a mild cheese, and a darker one with a strong cheese.
So while this is an incredibly simple, three-ingredient dish, the variations are endless.
I rounded out the plate with a few other items – a goat cheese, some smoked gouda, a simple butter cracker, dark grapes, sliced apples, and a few salted mixed nuts. Nothing fancy or that needs lots of prep time, which is perfect when I’m focusing on other aspects of the meal.
Great dinner parties are all about creating balance: balance between the guests, the food, and the energy needed to bring it all together. Deceptively simple recipes like this are a godsend, because I can throw them together in just a few minutes. They impress my guests while leaving me free to do other last minute tasks in the kitchen. Beautiful, delicious, and easy – elements that add up to something swellegant.