Hi friends! Are we all in Thanksgiving planning mode? Yes? Me too! Alan and I actually enjoy hosting Thanksgiving. One, we love to cook, and two, we do not love to travel with tiny humans. We even hosted the year my oldest son was three months old, which was sort of dumb and insane in retrospect. I chose cooking for ten over traveling with a three month old. I don’t really remember much about that Thanksgiving, but I know I didn’t pack the nineteen thousand things required for traveling with a newborn. And in all honestly, I bet Alan did 90% of the cooking that year. I’ll have to ask him.
Anyhoo-I do love to cook (duh)- and I feel after all these years, I’ve finally nailed down a Thanksgiving prep routine that doesn’t make me completely crazy. However, when I am cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner, you better bet I’m curating the appetizers. My Thanksgiving Cheese Board frees up time for cooking the important stuff, and I can set it up in the morning because the cheese really does want to be at room temperature. And we want to be kind to our cheese.
Depending on the size of your shin-dig, choose 3-5 of your favorites.
Vary your choices- between soft and hard, cows milk, sheep’s milk, goat milk. Every family has someone who is lactose intolerant, and if you only have cow’s milk options, they’re kind of left out in the cold with no cheese. Sad.
My personal favorites are Manchego, a Camembert or triple cream Brie, a local goat cheese and a good blue (we like Maytag or a Danish Blue)
I tend to avoid flavored cheeses, like the ones with cranberries or peppers. Mainly because I like to build my own bites with fruit and condiments.
I like to have two – typically a prosciutto and a hard salami. A hard chorizo, blood sausage or any good cured meats are fine options.
The Bits and Bobs
These are the fun of the Autumn Cheese Board, and you can flex your creative food muscles. I’ll pop a shopping list in the “recipe” if you want to re-create this exact board, but just pick things you like. It’s also an excellent opportunity to try something new.
My standbys are Castelvetrano olives (so buttery), Marcona Almonds- pricey, but holiday worthy, cornichons (wee little pickles), grapes (something has to cut the fat). I also really love thinly sliced Honeycrisp apples with my blue cheese.
Check your deli for fun condiments. I’m in love with these sweet and tangy mustard seeds, and the little jars of preserves (fig and cherry) were delightful and super cute.
Assemble Your Cheese Board
Use whatever your have one hand- a cutting board, a pretty serving platter or tray. Even a couple dinner plates will do in a pinch. If you don’t have enough small containers for your bits, just pile them on the board.
Cheese Board Garnishes
I like to scatter a few of the olives and nuts around. Same for the grapes and pomegranate seeds. I snagged a few rosemary sprigs from my garden. My fig tree is about zapped from the first freeze, but I found a few leaves to pop into my centerpiece. I also stole a few leaves from my olive tree- don’t tell my hubby though- I’ll be in big trouble. Point being- use what you have. You don’t need to visit a floral shop.
If you have a local specialty cheese shop, this is an excellent time to pay them a visit. If you live in the Austin area- take a field trip to Antonelli’s. These people know and love cheese, and they are thrilled to let you sample and will help you make choices that work well together. They also have LOTS of yummy bits and bobs. It’s my happy place and if you would like a field trip buddy for this excursion, I’m your girl!
A killer Cheese Board is all I put out for Thanksgiving appetizers, (I mean, we are about to have a full on feast) but if you are expecting a really large crowd, or are looking for a couple other appetizer ideas, our Baked Brie with Cranberry Chipotle Chutney is pretty special. And the Goat Cheese Cranberry Balls are usually a big hit.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go be alone with this cheese board.
Happy Thanksgiving planning, friends!