A cheese plate is without a doubt the easiest appetizer going. It’s assembling – not cooking, and that right there is why it always shows up when I have people over for dinner. I buy some great cheese, and then 9 times out of 10, I shop my pantry to fill it out. I rarely make the same one twice. I like my cheese plates to have variety. Sharp cheese, mellow, spicy, soft, hard. And then I like to add a few kinds of crackers, nuts, olives, meats, fruits, and a jam or chutney to round it out. Sweet, salty, bitter, crunchy, and soft. They are always interesting and everyone is happy.
- Assorted crackers and breadsticks
- Peppadew peppers
- Caramel Apple Butter (recipe below)
- Medium Asiago
- Aged Wisconsin Cheddar
- Aged Vermont White Cheddar
- Fiesta Pepper Jack
I always have a few cheeses in the fridge, and made this cheese plate one evening when I didn’t feel like making dinner. A glass of wine, and I was perfectly content calling this a meal.
I like to keep a few jams, jellies, and butters around to go with my cheese. I love the sweet/savory combination more than anything. I made this caramel apple butter that I found in Better Homes and Gardens. It is very simple, and while it takes awhile to cook, it is zero effort. I think that this goes so well with the cheddars, a lot like apple pie. So good. I made a half recipe, I wasn’t going to can it, and I only needed a jar or two. We ate one, and I gave the other away. It also makes a great gift.
Caramel Apple Butter Ingredients //
- 4 1/2 pounds tart apples (I used Golden Delicious, not tart, but what I like)
- 3 cups apple juice
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Steps // Instructions
Step 1: Peel and chop apples. Add to a large Dutch oven or 8 quart pot with apple juice.
Step 2: Add the vanilla seeds and pod to the pot. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat.
Step 3: Simmer, covered, for 30 to 35 minutes or until very tender.
Step 4: Take the vanilla bean out, but save it. Run the apples through a food mill, blender, or food processor.
Step 5: Measure 7 1/2 cups and put it back into the pot. (You may have some leftover.)
Step 6: Add the vanilla bean back to the pot and add brown sugar, sugar. lemon juice and cinnamon.
Step 7: Bring to a boil, and reduce heat.
Step 8: Cook, uncovered for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, or until the mixture is very thick and the liquid has been cooked out.
Step 9: Take the vanilla pod out. Transfer into 6 half pint jars. You can can this recipe but adding the butter to hot sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in boiling water canner for 5 minutes.