Cheese Canapés

All of you know that I LOVE cheese.  It may be my most favorite thing to eat.  And I love making cheese platters and cheese plates for dinner parties.  Well, this time, one of my friends asked me what I thought about making Cheese Canapés.  I always wondered what the difference was between a canapé and an hors d'oeuvres or appetizer.  I knew it was a fancy French name but wasn't exactly sure what it meant.  I looked it up and it specifically is "a small decorative food, held in the fingers and often eaten in one bite."

Since most people get engrossed in conversation at cocktail parties they often miss the food (unless they are determined to eat like I am.  I always make a beeline for the stationed hors d'oeuvres and fill myself right up.)  But since not everyone else is quite as determined as I am, tray passed hors d'oeuvres work brilliantly.  If you don't want to hire service staff to do this, young children as family parties will usually take great pride in being asked to help.  I know Katherine loved doing this starting at age four and so did my niece.  Or you can hire servers or you can bring them to the guests yourself if that is fun for you.

For the canapés I worked with some friends to come up with the ultimate combinations.  We had a lot of fun taste testing.  For instance, we found using a whole fig was too sweet and dwarfed the taste of everything else, so it was better to use a slice of fig.  I loved eating the experiements!

Eventually I'll take individual photos of all the ingredients we used to make the Cheese Canapés, and I'll add them to the blog with their sources.  For now, I'll just sent the picture with list of combinations.  Let me know if you come up with some great combinations of your own.  The possibilities are endless!

From left to right:

Fig with Toscano Cheese and Mint (on top of a thinly sliced baguette with crusts removed)

Red Pear with creamy Castello Blue Cheese and Spiced Pecan Half  (no bread or cracker on this one)

Boschetto al Tartufo (Italian Truffle Cheese) topped with White Truffle Honey and Microgreens
(on top of a pita cracker that was broken in half--remember small and bite-size is the key to a canapé so we gently broke them in half to make them smaller.)

Silver Goat Chevre with Marcona Almonds and Dried Montmorency Cherries (on Raisin Rosemary Crips --pictured below)

Dubliner Irish Cheddar with Quince Paste (on mini Croccatini )  Now I KNOW that the classic pairing with Quince is Manchego and I love manchego cheese.  But I'm also completely nuts for the Dubliner Irish Cheddar so I pair this together frequently.  Also, there is flowering cilantro on top of the Quince, but unless you are growing cilantro in your garden that happens to be going to seed, this will be hard to obtain.  I used it because it was pretty and very mild.  You don't want anything that will overpower the other flavors.)

The issue with most pretty hors d'oeuvres is that they are time consuming.  So I would recommend working ahead and getting all the parts ready to be assembled.  Wait to cut the pear and fig until just before assembling and add the honey just before serving.  Otherwise, everything else can be put in plastic ziplock bags or airtight containers until you are ready to assemble them.  (i.e. we broke the spiced pecans in half so they would be smaller, we broke the mini croccatini into smaller pieces, the baguette was sliced and trimmed, etc.)

Then here below is a cheese platter if you don't want to take the time to cut everything up into tiny pieces and assemble them.

Clockwise from left:  Marcona Almonds, Montmorency Dried Cherries, Spiced Pecans, Dubliner Irish Cheddar, Quince Paste, Grapes, Figs, Italian Truffle Cheese, St. Andre, more Marcona Almonds, Basque Cheese, more Grapes, Castello Creamy Blue, Pistachios, sliced Dried Apricots.  I always try to put some green on a cheese platter too.  In this case I used orange tree leaves.  You can use lemon leaves, grapes leaves, kale, or any edible green leaf.

White Truffle Honey that I'm completely addicted to 
that we put with the Italian Truffle Cheese.  I also 
love this honey paired with a 3 or 5 year-aged Gouda.

Raisin Rosemary Crisps from Trader Joe's
They are just the right size and super yummy 


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