Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter Hors D'Oeuvres - French Cheese & Charcuterie Plate

Life comes with disappointments. Business deals fall apart, recipes don't work.
You know what's never let me down? A cheese plate.
I've mentioned cheese plates before on NK. I love them. So today, they'll be another one. They never get old. For a refresher of some principles for a winning cheese plate, go here: Cheese Plate How To

French Cheese and Charcuterie Plate Part 1, Photo: NK

For more Easter Dishes including some easy Sides, Salads, and Appetizers, visit NK's latest recipe collection HERE. 

I was bummed this past Friday. I had the day off to get ready for our Easter holiday but It didn't go as planned. My attempt to sleep late was unsuccessful, and I woke up to some stinky work news on my blackberry. Something that I'd been working on for months had fallen to pieces. Not out of the ordinary for my day job, but this was supposed to be my happy day!

Since my mother in law would be cooking for Easter, which happens to be my favorite holiday of the year, all I had to bring was hors d'oeuvres. Grumpy or not, ingredient shopping and prepping were to be the day's mission.

Lovely Easter Tablescape by Mr. NK's Mom! Photo: NK

More than any other culture, I associate the French with cheese, and France has been on my mind lately as the husband and I will be traveling there in May. It'll be my third time and his second. I went when I was ten and again at twenty. Seems that each decade I like to make a pilgrimage, although I am admittedly, a bit late. I loved France both visits, but I feel as if I will appreciate it even more now that I'm older. On the itinerary: a short stay in Paris, a day in Normandy, several days in a cute little town in the Loire Valley, and lots of fromage, to be sure. 

So it only stood to reason that my cheese plate, this year's hors d'oeuvre offering, should be French. As I headed out to buy the ingredients, my foul mood was soon turned upside down.
Seems our little town had come into full bloom just over night:

Spring has definitely sprung! 

Some of the Cheese and Charcuterie Plate Ingredients, Photo: NK
Charcuterie, Part Deux - Pate, Pickles and Grainy Mustard, Photo: NK

French Cheese & Charcuterie Plate

Choose 3 or more types of cheese - Cow, Goat and Sheep
We used: 
Boucheron - Runny Goat, minimal tanginess & pleasant salinity

Ossau Iraty - Firm Mild Sheep's milk from the French Pyrenees
Saint Nectaire - Earthy Tasting Washed Rind Cow's milk

And now for the rest:

Saucisson Sec - French Dried Sausage similar to Soppressata, we like D'Artagnan Brand

Blackberry Jam - goes nicely with the Ossau Iraty, we prefer Bonne Maman brand

Country Pate, also known as Pate de Campagne, a rustic-style chunky pate

Pate Accompaniments:
Frisee is Pretty, Photo: NK
Cornichon Pickles, for the pate

Grainy Mustard, for the pate

Fruit, Starches, and Garnishes:
Grain Bread or Rye, for the pate

Dried Fruit, we used Turkish Apricots

Forelle Pears, because they are gorgeous 

Grapes - for taste, color and height

Crackers - nothing beats Carr's brand

Crusty French Baguette sliced thin

Frisee Lettuce and Parsley 

Design: Half the fun of a cheese plate is styling it. Experiment with varying heights and colors, and always be sure to let your creativity run wild. 

Next up, a delicious Tuna Tapenade Spread for alongside my cheese and charcuterie plate. With tuna, capers, and olives - a trinity of some of my favorite flavors - this spread reminds me of a the components of a very French Nicoise salad, or as my husband cutely pronounces it, A ni-co-ees salad

Ina Garten's Tuna Tapenade with Endives and Sliced Radishes, Photo: NK

Here's the link for the recipe: Crostini With Tuna Tapenade
We served this with endive leaves and sliced radishes because we already had a lot of bread and cracker action going on.


I hope the joys of spring put a smile on all of your faces.
And when in doubt, just eat cheese!

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  1. I am hosting a French brunch for my girlfriends next month when we get together to watch the 25th Anniversary Les Mis concert DVD. I am TOTALLY stealing all of your ideas, LOL!!!

  2. Hi Beth, Wonderful to hear! And you are welcome to all of them of course! I may just get some inspiration from your amazing French Brunch idea. I'd love to hear the details of anything you decide to make if you'd like to check back. Enjoy and bon chance!