A Simple French Cheeseboard for
Al Fresco and Summer Dining
Now, I know regular readers will be expecting a “Fish on Friday” post today, and indeed I will be posting one a little later or tomorrow, but for now I want to share a simple idea for a summer cheeseboard, a bit if an “Oooh La La” French cheese platter or as my French neighbours would say, “Assiette de Fromages”………and, selecting cheese for a French cheeseboard does not have to involve more than four or five cheeses. Too many cheeses spoils the palate and also confuses the taste-buds. The aim is to offer four (or five) cheeses of differing strengths, textures and from different milk sources too, such as cow’s milk, goat’s milk or sheep’s milk. I always prefer to serve my French cheeseboard with bread rather than the usual British way of crackers, and I always serve it BEFORE the dessert.
There is no recipe as such for my assiette de fromages, rather a set of guidelines which I have listed below, based on the cheeseboard you see in my Photos. I have also shared a home-made artisan bread recipe in this post too, a generic artisan bread recipe that is perfect for baguettes…….for full fromage enjoyment! My most recent cheeseboard was selected carefully to finish of a special meal I cooked for my daughter, who has been staying with us for the last week, before she starts a new job; we enjoyed a plate of “Steak and Chips” (frites) the other evening, with the meal being rounded off with an assortment of cheeses, baguette and then some fresh Breton strawberries…….with wine of course! I selected four cheeses for the three of us – La bûche de chèvre; Bleu d’Auvergne; Camembert (Cru) and a lovely piece of French Alpine Emmental.
French Cheeseboard Serving Ideas and Suggestions:
1.Choose between four and five cheese to enhance the palate and not confuse it.
2. Choose hard, medium and soft cheeses, for different textures.
(For example, I selected Camembert as the soft cheese, Chevre as a soft to medium cheese, Bleu d’Auvergne as a medium cheese and Emmental as the hard cheese.)
3. Try to choose different milk sources, such as cow’s milk cheeses, goat’s milk cheeses and sheep’s milk cheeses.
( My cheeseboard had cow and goat’s milk cheese, and had I picked Roquefort as the blue cheese, I would have had a sheep’s milk cheese on the platter too)
4. Try to include a blue cheese on a cheeseboard; if some of the diners are not keen on strong blue cheese, pick a mild one such as Fourme d’Ambert or Bleu de Chevre, or even a Saint Agur.
5. Always unwrap your cheese and bring it to room temperature for an hour before serving. Store your cheese wrapped in greaseproof paper wherever possible, as cling-film makes it “sweat” as well as being too “wet”to serve. Invest in a cheese cave, an open framework with mesh covers and door, which allows the cheese to “breathe” and “age” (affinage) naturally.
6. If you have to store your cheese in the fridge, unwrap it and keep it in a covered container, rather than in its orginal packing or cling-film. Some cheese come in their own “cave”, these are pierced with holes and allow the cheese to breathe, these cheese are best kept in their original packing.
7. Always serve the cheeseboard before the dessert. This allows you to finish your wine (as served with the main meal) and also serving savoury after sweet is not always that pleasant!
8. Allow about 75g to 100g per person if no dessert is being served, or 50g to 75g if a dessert will follow.
9. Serve fresh fruit and nuts with a cheeseboard, if the cheese is being served as a “dessert” in its own right. Butter can also be served with cheese too. (Fresh figs and walnuts are fabulous with cheese)
10. Bread and assorted crackers are best served with cheese, and the French will often serve a simple green salad with the cheese course as a palate cleanser.
I hope you have enjoyed my Fromage Friday post! I will be back later with usual Fish on Friday post too…….have a fabulous weekend! Karen
Weekly Make and Bake Rustic Bread
|Serves||4 to 5 bread loaves|
|Prep time||2 hours, 40 minutes|
|Cook time||30 minutes|
|Total time||3 hours, 10 minutes|
|Meal type||Bread, Breakfast, Side Dish, Snack|
|Misc||Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold, Serve Hot|
|Occasion||Barbecue, Birthday Party, Casual Party, Christmas, Easter, Formal Party, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentines day|
|By author||Karen S Burns-Booth|
- 900g strong white bread flour
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 x 7g sachets dried fast action yeast (or 25g fresh yeast, added to a little warm water with 1 teaspoon honey or sugar)
- 650mls tepid water
This is a “hodge podge” of old fashioned English and French rustic bread recipes; the bread dough is made up ahead of time and stored (in the old days) in an earthenware crock or bowl, with a lid. You tear a piece of the dough off as and when you want to bake a loaf of bread. Easy! You can add other types of flour to the basic white batch, as long as the ratio remains the same – you can mix rye or whole wheat flour with the white, or add herbs, onions, seeds, fruit and other flavourings.
|Step 1||Pour the warm water into a large mixing bowl – the water should be tepid or hand warm – NOT too hot, as it will kill the yeast.|
|Step 2||Add the yeast to the water and then the salt, mix well.|
|Step 3||Add ALL the flour and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a dough hook until all the ingredients are amalgamated – NO need to over knead.|
|Step 4||Leave the bread dough in the mixing bowl and cover loosely – I use a shower cap to cover my dough! (That is NOT used as a shower cap any more, I hasten to add!)|
|Step 5||Allow to prove for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.|
|Step 6||The dough can now be stored in the fridge or you can use the dough to make a loaf of bread immediately.|
|Step 7||If baking a loaf of bread now, pre-heat the oven and place a baking sheet or pizza tray in there. Tear off a large ball, about the size of a small melon, and knead it for about 1 minute with floured hands and on a floured board, Shape it as desired (Rolls, Cob, Cottage Loaf, Boule, Baguette or Bannette etc) or place it in a greased and floured loaf tin. Allow to prove and rise for a further 20 to 30 minutes. Slash the surface with a sharp serrated knife if you wish, see photos. You can add a glaze or special finish at this point.|
|Step 8||Bake at 225C/450F for 30 minutes or until well risen, brown and the loaf sounds hollow when it is tapped on the underside. (If you wish, you can add a bowl of boiling water as soon as you put the bread into the oven – this steams and bakes the loaf to give a good chewy texture and keeps the inside moist.)|
|Step 9||Remove the bread when baked and cool on a cooling rack. Serve warm with butter, cheese, jam, hams and cold cuts, or slice when cool for sandwiches. Also wonderful when toasted the next day.|
|Step 10||Store the excess dough in the mixing bowl, loosely covered, in the fridge or somewhere cool until needed – this will keep for 2 weeks, but I find it has all gone by 7 to 10 days! This amount of dough will make between 4 and 5 loaves of bread, depending on the shape and amount of dough you use.|
French Peppered Steak and Chips
Strawberry and Mint Fruit Salad
Well I know what I’m having for lunch now:-) “But for those who don’t like strong blue cheese”, I can’t eat any blue cheese I’m afraid just makes me feel ill! Give me good Danish Havarti, Swiss Emmenthal, English Cheddar or French Brie and I’ll be happy – there might be a space on a Christmas cheese board for the hubby’s stilton or roquefort but otherwise its a no no. You bread sounds intriguing being able to grab a bit a bake it, never heard of that before:-)
Karen S says
Thanks Camilla! I hope you enjoyed your Fromage Friday lunch! No need to add blue cheese for you, just adds other soft to medium cheese for munching delight! Karen
Charlotte @charlottekdiary says
I love a good selection of French cheeses, Karen, these look fantastic. I do prefer the French way of serving it with baguette too!
Karen S says
Thanks Charlotte! I knew you would approve of this assiette de fromages! I much prefer baguette, it “holds” the cheese better!
Caroline Taylor says
Does it get much better than a cheese board? I love the name Fromage Fridays too!
Karen S says
Thanks Caroline! I just wrote Fromage Friday as a joke, but I like the name so much now, I may keep it as a regular post title! Karen
I love the French cheeseboard tradition. When we eat out at a nice restaurant in France we always opt for the “chariot de fromages”, just to experience the theatre of it as well as taste the cheese. We also love the way cheese is served before dessert. I’m not sure if it is better for you – saving room for a pudding after the cheese is sometimes a challenge !!
Karen S says
Thanks Jean, yes, a chariot de fromages is a sight to behold! A local restaurant to us on the Gironde Estuary, at St Fort, serves a cheese board on a large piece of boat timber! It must have about 30+ cheeses on it, and I always try to save room for this cheese fest! Karen
I like French cheeses but I do feel that British cheeses are more than a match and, in many cases (from the most mass produced to the artisanal) are the best in the world (but I have to admit bias in this.) I would choose a creamy British blue like Smooth Blue or a good crumbly aged cheddar every time.
Karen S says
I absolutely agree and I will be featuring English cheeses next week, I just started off with a French cheese platter that we enjoyed this week! I am an avid English (and Welsh, Scottish and Irish) cheese lover and I agree that we make some of the best cheese in the world! Fromage Friday will also be featuring some local artisan Yorkshire cheeses next week, Karen
Awesome. Don’t forget the midlands, we have some awesome stuff!
Jen @ BlueKitchenBakes says
Ah Bleu d’Auvergne is such a wonderful cheese, it’s pretty much the local cheese for my parents as they live in the neighbouring Haute Vienne department. There is always some on the cheeseboard when I go to visit along with beautifully ripe unpasteurised Camembert. This post has got me all excited about the lovely food I’ll get to eat when I go to visit in a couple of weeks 🙂
Amazing! We baked a very similar bread last weekend and also had it with blue cheese. Have you ever tried blue goat’s cheese? It’s delicious and would go fit really well on a summer cheese plate.
Tracy Nixon says
Shared via G+ Thank you for a great idea!
Tracy Nixon says
Re-shared on Facebook thanks!
Tracy Nixon says
Re-shared on Facebook! This is my plan for the weekend thanks!
Lisa Williams says
shared this on twitter 🙂
Lisa Williams says
tweeted again to share as who won’t love this 🙂
Janet Rawstron says
A well stocked cheeseboard, freshly baked bread spread with butter – what could be more inviting.
ANN ANGIE S. says
Looks very tasty. I am vegetarian so cheese is what I eat.
Maya Russell says
Shared on Twitter with @maisietoo