Savor the Season with Delicious, Decorative Cheese Boards

5 tips to create holiday meal centerpieces

(Family Features) A cheese board, plate or course can be a delightful way to savor the season with family and friends, bringing together a medley of tastes and textures.

This year, try serving up a board with real, quality cheeses that also set a celebratory tone with these tips from the experts at Real California Milk, representing California's dairy farm families.

Mix it up. When selecting cheeses, create a range of flavors and textures from soft to hard and mild to sharp, and even pungent varieties. Consider these examples:

  • A bloomy rind cheese such as Brie, Camembert or Formagella
  • A soft or washed-rind cheese like Teleme or Crescenza
  • A semi-firm cheese such as Gouda, St. George or toma
  • A very hard cheese such as dry jack, aged Gouda or aged white cheddar
  • A highly flavorful or pungent cheese such as blue or flavored jack

Add contrast. Flavorful breads thinly sliced or broken into smaller pieces can enhance contrast in both flavor and texture. For a simple solution, try serving breadsticks as part of this California Continental Cheese Board alongside Brie, toma and pepper jack cheeses.

Be patient (but not too patient). Aged cheeses should be allowed time to come to room temperature. Larger pieces typically take 1-2 hours for the full flavor to develop. However, fresh cheeses should be treated like milk, so don’t allow them to sit out for more than a short time.

Use simple additions. Enhance your cheese plates with olives, nuts or fruit to add flavor and texture. For example, pears go well with blue cheese, Gouda and toma; olives accompany white cheddar and pepper jack; walnuts fit with Gouda and dry jack; and dried cranberries pair nicely with cheddar, blue cheese and mushroom jack in this Red, White and Blue Cheese Board.

Consider portions. Estimate 1-1 1/2 ounces of each cheese per person. If you plan to serve three or more cheeses, consider decreasing the amount to 1 ounce (or less) of each cheese per person.

To find a variety of Real California cheeses at a store near you, visit the product locator at  realcaliforniamilk.com.

California Continental Cheese Board

Recipe courtesy of Real California Milk

  • 1-2       ounces California Brie cheese per person
  • 1-2       ounces California toma cheese per person
  • 1-2       ounces California pepper jack cheese per person
  • walnuts
  • breadsticks
  • fresh herbs
  1. On cheese plate, arrange cheeses, almonds, crackers and cherry tomatoes.

Red, White and Blue Cheese Board

Recipe courtesy of Real California Milk

  • 1-2       ounces California cheddar cheese per person
  • 1-2       ounces California blue cheese per person
  • 1-2       ounces California mushroom jack cheese per person
  • walnuts
  • dried cranberries
  • crackers
  • fresh apple slices
  1. On cheese plate, arrange cheeses, walnuts, cranberries, crackers and apple slices.