party snack

Party Eats -> Five Steps for a Simple Cheese Plate

Who doesn’t love a good cheese plate?

styling by jennifer oatsvall  |  photo by    alyssa joy photography

styling by jennifer oatsvall | photo by alyssa joy photography

A cheese plate is hands down my favorite snack at any gathering or restaurant. In fact I sometimes choose a restaurant based on whether they have a cheese course! My friend and fave light catcher, Alyssa, recently posted our cheese plate shoot on her website and asked me for some tips on creating a cheese plate at home. I thought it such a great idea that I’m reposting here. These tips are centered mostly around a small gathering of friends using easy assemblage.

styling by jennifer oatsvall  |  photo by    alyssa joy photography

styling by jennifer oatsvall | photo by alyssa joy photography

Five Steps for a Simple Cheese Plate

  1. Cheese: choose two. Ignore the rules about buying with regards to texture and flavor. That’s great for large cheese boards but for a simple one with friends, just buy what you like. For example: sharp cheddar + havarti or a goat cheese + gouda.

  2. Meats: choose one. Go to the deli counter or check out the pre-packaged meats in that part of the store. Prosciutto is a universal favorite. A salami or capicola are also yummy choices.

  3. Fruits + Veggies: choose three or four. If you don’t have time to slice, choose fruit such as grapes, cherries, bite size tomatoes + berries and pre-cut veggies like broccoli florets and carrots.

  4. Vehicle: choose one. Your favorite cracker, a sliced baguette, brioche or Hawaiian bread torn into pieces. Bread will start to stale once sliced so if you don’t want to babysit your cheese board all evening, go with crackers.

  5. Extras: choose two. Extras consist of nuts, spreads such as honey or jam, seeds, or dried fruit. In nuts, almonds are a traditional choice for cheese boards. If you want to be a little bit different, try shelled pistachios or macadamia nuts. A really good honey is excellent with everything on a cheese board. For jams, peach, strawberry, or blackberry are all quite palate friendly. Salted sunflower seeds or toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) would be a delicious and unique alternative to nuts. Love dried fruits? Apricots, prunes, figs, and golden raisins are all readily available.

Date night cheese plate for two  |  styling by jennifer oatsvall  |  photo by    alyssa joy photography

Date night cheese plate for two | styling by jennifer oatsvall | photo by alyssa joy photography

And if you want to step it up and try your hand at more, by all means do it! Make that hummus! Poach those pears! Bake bread! You can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. The wonderful thing about cheese plates is that the possibilities are endless! xo, jennifer

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{Hard good sources: platter is antique ironstone, handmade honey bowl + spoon is Facture Goods, handmade blue-green plate is Feast + Fern. Chartreuse linen from World Market, grey linen from Restoration Hardware.}

Snack Time -> Candied Pecans

styling by jennifer oatsvall | photo by    alyssa joy photography

styling by jennifer oatsvall | photo by alyssa joy photography

I love candied pecans. I took elements from recipes and blended them together to get all the elements I love the best. Sweet, salty, buttery, and a hint of heat. Since pecans come in an array of package sizes, I altered the recipe for smaller 16 oz bags and larger 24 oz bags which is what I purchase from a place in Georgia (Adcock Pecans in Tifton). Use the smaller measurements for a smaller quantity of pecans and the higher for a larger bag. These are addictive. When we were photographing them, it was the one subject we couldn’t stop eating. :)

Candied Pecans

Ingredients

16 - 24 oz whole pecans

1/2 - 1 stick butter, melted and cooled

1 - 2 egg whites

1/3 c brown sugar, packed

1/2 - 2/3 c white granulated sugar

1 - 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper (1/2 tsp will not set you on fire)

1 - 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 325. Place a piece of parchment on a half sheet or jelly roll pan. Add pecans to a large bowl. Pour the melted butter over the pecans. In a separate small bowl beat egg whites until stiff. Add sugars, salt, cinnamon + cayenne. Pour over pecans and stir until evenly coated. Spread evenly on pan. Bake pecans for 3o minutes being sure to flip and stir them every ten minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack covered in parchment paper. As they cool, I give them a stir to keep from sticking to one another. When cool, eat until you explode. :)

styling by jennifer oatsvall | photo by    alyssa joy photography

styling by jennifer oatsvall | photo by alyssa joy photography