When I was first married, I did a bit of catering. All of the wedding open houses I catered took place during the holidays. I absolutely loved creating menus to reflect the flavors of the holidays. The buffet table of my favorite open house consisted of tasty appetizers, a couple of really good green salads, and seasonal desserts. So today, I’m sharing some easy cheese appetizer ideas for the holidays to get you in the mood to entertain, plus a great recipe for apple chutney.
The guests at the events I catered would always nibble a little here and there on the salads and desserts, but it was the cheese-laden appetizers that they came back to the table for over and over again.
I learned a valuable tip: Don’t go crazy with desserts. Let the appetizers shine and be the star of the buffet table. People are too overloaded with desserts during the Holidays. They crave something savory, like cheese.
I’ve come up with these easy cheese appetizer ideas with the help of my friends at Harmons Grocery; using as many local ingredients as I could. They are twists on familiar favorites that I know you’ll just love.
GOAT CHEESE AND PEPPER JELLY
The first one is as simple as can be with the classic pairing of creamy, fresh cheese, in this case chevre from a local farm, and a spicy raspberry pepper jelly, my new favorite Raz-Pepper from Pepperlane in Wanship, Utah. I’ve used some crispy seeded crackers, but any cracker would do nicely.
This raspberry pepper jelly is incredible–sweet, fruity, tangy and spicy. It was absolutely perfect with the goat cheese. If goat cheese isn’t your thing, cream cheese would be a suitable substitute.
BAKED BRIE AND JAM
For my second appetizer, I topped a big wedge of creamy imported Brie with my favorite fig jam from Butcher’s Bunches in Logan, Utah.
The fig preserves are made with figs soaked in Limoncello and mixed with herbs–no sugar added.
I can’t get enough of this jam. (It’s good with just about everything.) But it was magical on top of the Brie, baked for about 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven, spread atop Harmons’ house-made artisan sourdough bread, and oranges on the side.
CHEDDAR AND APPLES
Cheddar and apples are the perfect pairing. Harmons had some of their Bourbon Street Cheddar out for samples and I knew it needed to be topped with something apple-y and sweet.
A good, flavored cheese can stand alone on a buffet table. Flavored cheeses are all the rage these days–their rinds rubbed with flavorful herbs and spices, and even chocolate and coffee.
That beautiful slice of cheese with the dark edges is a bonus fourth appetizer. I picked up a small wedge of Barely Buzzed, the award-winning favorite from Beehive Cheese. It’s rubbed with espresso beans ground with lavender buds. If you love cheese and you really want to wow your friends, add that to your buffet table. It has the most delightful tingle from the espresso.
Here are some pictures from my trip up to the new City Creek Center Harmons in Downtown Salt Lake City.
They boast the biggest cheese selection this side of the Mississippi. This is only about 1/6th of their selection in the picture below. They have cheese from all over the world, including my beloved favorite local cheeses.
Each Harmons location has knowledgeable staff to help answer questions and offer advice when selecting cheese. They encourage tasting too. (Yes, please!)
- a little olive oil
- 2 cups diced apples (peeled or unpeeled)
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup pecan halves, broken into large pieces
- ⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
- 2-4 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- ½ tsp. dried poultry seasoning (I make my own from equal parts rosemary, thyme, and sage)
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- pinch salt
- Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little olive oil and let it heat for a few seconds.
- Add the apples and cook, stirring frequently until they start to soften and release their juices. Add the pecans, cranberries, brown sugar, vinegar, poultry seasoning, ginger and pinch of salt.
- Cook, stirring frequently, until syrupy and thick. Cool to room temperature before serving.
This post is sponsored by Harmons Grocery.