How to style a cheeseboard

Video guide to styling a cheeseboard

I'm going to show you how to do a great cheeseboard.

Often, you get a load of cheeses in a pack and they look like this and you put them on the board but I'm going to show you a few little techniques that can really transform it into something very special for Christmastime or for a supper evening meal.

Create a special cheeseboard

So what we're going to do is take something like cheddar, which everyone has. So, for example, what I'm going to do is slice it down and have a few good slices off the front of it, like so. And then we're going to take something very simple as baking parchment and all you're going to do is you crumple it up in your hands and then we're just going to put that in the centre of the board and then take this delicious farmhouse vintage cheddar - it's crumbled a little bit but that's the beauty of cheddar.

How to serve your cheeses

There we go, then we're going to take the Stilton and I think a great idea with Stilton is to serve it with a little bit of honey, it works well with goat's cheese as well. And just to add a little bit of interest to the board, I've put this other little board on top of this. When you are choosing your board for your cheeses, make sure it's a nice dark, deep colour, even if it's a wooden chopping board; it really lifts the colour of the cheese.

So what I'm going to do is just crumble it off at the front there, by doing that, you're inviting the guests to help themselves.

Add Manchego Spanish cheese

Next we're going to go for something with a bit of height; this is a lovely Manchego cheese, from La Mancha in Spain. It has a really lovely nutty flavour to it. Then we're going to put on a lovely, gooey, running Brie, this one's from Somerset. With that, I'm just going to place it on there, because it speaks for itself.

Cut your French Brie

What I have done with all of these cheeses is brought them out about an hour before we want to eat them so that they develop flavour. This is a lovely French Brie and just to make a point of difference, what I'm going to do is just slice the nose off at an angle. By slicing it off at the nose end, that's a very traditional way of cutting Brie. So we're just going to prop that up at the front there.

Add a crumbly Red Leicester

And finally, and by no means least, is the Red Leicester. So with this, you'll see, again it's a lovely crumbly cheese with a nutty little flavour to it. I might just move that to the side slightly.

Also when you're selecting cheeses for a cheeseboard, make sure you have soft cheeses, hard cheeses and blue cheeses. On this we have all of those.

The cheese accompaniments

So then the accompaniments you can put with it are anything from fruits to nuts to chutneys. I've got some grapes here, obviously that's quite big to go on there and we don't want to overwhelm the cheese because it is about the cheese itself, so you just snip off beautiful little bunches of grapes, like so, and just dot them around. Again, also add some red grapes in there because it also adds a bit more colour.

There's no right or wrong with this, just have a little bit of a play with it. Lovely figs, all you need to do is just cut down through the middle, nearly to the bottom, then rotate it a quarter of a turn and again, down to the bottom. Then, just using fingers, just ease it open; it looks like a flower opening up,  and that's just a really impressive little idea as well.

How to cut your apples and pears

Pears and apples, anything that's got red or green tones on there to lift the colour of the cheese works really well. I'm going to make what I call a jigsaw pear. Very simply, take a pear, if it doesn't stand up on its own, just trim the bottom off slightly and now it stands, and trim the stalk, it's lovely if you keep the stalk on there. And then to make the jigsaw pear, you put it on its side and you just slice through, about a centimetre slices. And then what we're going to do is actually reform the pear into its shape, so you want to make sure the slices remain in the same order. Now, if you were doing this ahead of time, what you'd want to do is run a little bit of lemon juice over the pear and that will stop it from going brown. And then what you can do is place that on your cheeseboard like that.

Trim your celery

Celery is a great accompaniment and very traditional to be served with Stilton. So what we're going to do is you can either just trim it up, if you wanted to, by cutting it in to a V shape and standing it in a glass of water at the back for a bit of height. Or you could do what I'm going to do which is just cut it into small lengths and then we're just going to put it on the board, probably leaning up against a bit of cheese itself.

So every opportunity you're creating little bits of height and colour differences between all the different cheeses. Chutneys are great; anything that's onion or tomato based, they work really well. Also butter and then pecans and walnuts; also Medjool dates work really well with the flavour of the cheese.

Crackers to accompany the cheese

To accompany the cheese, crackers are great and digestives work really well with cheddar. Also, a choice of breads is a good alternative to crackers. You can take a French stick, for example, just cut it on the diagonal so, again, it creates a different shape. Walnut bread, poppy seed bread, they're all ideal.

And, of course, a really lovely bottle of red wine or Madeira really compliments the board.

So with these little finishing touches of pear or celery or even a fig, you create the most beautiful cheeseboard.

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