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Offering your guests something to fill their plates and satisfy their palates will keep the evening alive with conversation and interesting happenings! Choosing the right food to go with your drinks is an important task to check off before the spirits are flowing. A cheese plate complete with many varieties of chesses along with some crackers, fruit and nuts is sure to please. Mini desserts served up in single servings will also impress your guests!

 

Try these ideas to inspire your spread at your next gathering
 

1. Mini Desserts make a big statement when presented in an impressive way. We used an assortment of mini dessert cups and presented an array of flavors and textures, aiming to please many tastes. It can be as easy as fresh fruit sprinkled with coarse sugar atop a mound of freshly-made whipped topping or as in-depth as poached pears in a sweet wine sauce individually served up in elegant bowls. We tried this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis found here at foodnetwork.com for Poached Pears in a Honey, Ginger and Cinnamon Syrup. Try this recipe-- absolutely amazing!

Ingredients

  • 1 (750-ml) bottle Moscato wine or other sweet dessert wine
  • 2 cups simple syrup, recipe follows
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in 1/2
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 (3/4-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled, and finely chopped
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 6 small, firm, ripe Anjou pears, peeled
  • Serving suggestion: vanilla ice cream or gelato

 

Directions

In a saucepan large enough to hold all the pears, combine the wine, simple syrup, cinnamon stick halves, honey, and ginger. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the bean and seeds to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the honey has melted. Add the pears and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until the pears are tender. Remove the pears from the liquid and allow to cool.

Continue to simmer the liquid until it thickens and is reduced by half, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Remove the cinnamon stick halves and the vanilla bean and discard.

 

Place each pear [in a mini dessert bowl] with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Drizzle with the honey, ginger and cinnamon syrup. Serve immediately.

Simple Syrup

2 cups sugar
2 cups water

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool.

We took ours one tiny step further and sprinkled shaved almonds on top.

2. Savory appetizers or hors d’oeuvres are the perfect companions for your cocktail party. A classic cheese plate is one of the simplest yet most satisfying hors d’oeuvre you can create. We’ve done our research on how to construct the perfect cheese plate for your next dinner party or happy hour. Here are a few tips to get you started.

a. Have a diverse selection. Choosing 5 – 6 chesses is ideal. You’ll have a good assortment if you choose cheese from different places and at least one from all three types of milk (cow, goat and sheep). You should also vary the textures (creamy, crumbly, hard and soft). Always serve cheese at room temperature where it is at its best flavor and texture.

b. Use the right tool for the different textures. For instance, if you try to use a knife while serving blue cheese, it will crumble. A cheese wire is best for this type of cheese. A triangle knife should be used to slice harder cheeses. Cut round blocks of cheese into small wedges. A butter knife can be used for spreadable cheese. Oneida offers an array of tools for your cheese plate. Go here to see what we have.

c. Offering other types of food with your cheese will help cleanse the palates of your guests and will be an added dimension to your cheese plate. Fresh and dried fruit, nuts, crackers and something sweet like chocolate are all good options.

d. Try pairing your cheeses with the correct type of wine, beer, champagne and other beverages. Murray’s Cheese, a famous cheese stop in NYC is a wonderful resource for all things cheesy. Click here to get wonderful pairing tips and suggestions.