Working Girl’s Kitchen: Cheese & Charcuterie

WORKING GIRL’S KITCHEN: CHEESE & CHARCUTERIE

Earlier this week, I invited one of my girlfriends over to my apartment to hang out and catch up. Since she was coming by after her evening workout, I wanted to serve something light that would go well with wine or tea. Yes, we have this weird routine of drinking caffeine-free tea like old ladies — just on the weeknights though ;)

Crostini? Nope, too much bread after a workout. Salad? Meh, refreshing but not that cozy.

Cheese & charcuterie? Perfect!

A cheese and charcuterie platter is my new favorite go-to when I have friends stopping by during those non-meal time hours. It’s easy to set up and you can customize the meats, cheese and other nibbles. Also, I have a great little grocery around the corner that sells a variety of sliced meats as well picnic-sized samples of cheese. If your only option is to buy full size portions, then perhaps pick two kinds (1 hard, 1 soft) to keep it simple and affordable. The key to a great spread is to include a balanced variety of flavors and textures — sweet and salty, creamy and crunchy, etc. And be sure to check your fridge and pantry before heading to the grocery store; you probably already have some ingredients on hand!

On my platter, I served the following with sesame seed flatbread crackers:

  • Cheeses: Brie, Manchego, Goat, Bleu
  • Meats: Prosciutto, dry salami
  • Spreads: Fig & ginger jam, honey (this is my favorite kind)
  • Other: Sliced pear, green grapes, cornichons

And an excuse to buy cheese knives…

As I was heading home from work to grocery shop and prep, I realized this would be the perfect chance to buy the set of Laguiole cheese knives I’ve been eyeing for months.

Once I brought home the set, I realized that I had no idea what the three different knives were supposed to be used for. There must be a reason one of the knives had a weird curly end, right? So with a little bit of research and some trial and error, I learned a few things about my newly purchased gift to myself:

  • Pronged cheese knife — This knife is good for slicing through soft cheeses, and the prongs can be used to pick up the slices. You can also use the prongs to break off Parmigiano into smaller chunks.
  • Spreader — Well, I suppose this one was pretty easy to figure out ☺ Use this spreader for very soft and creamy cheeses such as goat cheese.
  • Cleaver — Perfect for hard cheeses such as Manchego, this cleaver slices through blocks easily.

While my set came with just those three knives, there are a few other cheese knives you might notice if you’re shopping around:

  • Cheese plane — Use this for semi-hard to hard cheeses to get nice thin slices.
  • Soft cheese knife — I’ll admit it. At first I thought this was for Swiss cheese only because it looks like it, right? Well this knife is for soft cheeses — think Brie or Camembert. The holes on the blade actually keep the slices from sticking to the knife.

These knives are the perfect gift for that girlfriend who can’t get enough Gouda or Gruyère. But please, don’t wait for someone to buy this set for you…treat yourself! A classic set of cheese knives is definitely worth buying if you love eating cheese (and serving it) as much as I do.

What are your favorite foods to serve on a cheese and charcuterie platter? Leave a comment below — I’d love to hear from you!

A version of this article first appeared on The Simple Fare.

Images: The Simple Fare

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