For some people, hearing the words, “oh yes, everyone can just bring a plate!” when referring to a family gathering or BBQ with friends is enough to make their palms sweaty. If you’re not a foodie fiend, it can be hard to think of what to bring in the first instance, let alone how to make it look good among the other dishes.
I usually think “challenge accepted” in these situations, which is often followed by people saying, “oh and Kat, don’t be extra this time okay?”. I never used to be good as assembling platters, but after a little practice, I believe I’ve found a way to make them effortless!
The secret? It’s about variety. Obvious, I know.
While I’m sure many of us would like to sit down and eat 1kg of watermelon or a massive wheel of brie, the idea of a platter is small amounts of everything – so keep this in mind when buying your ingredients.
To assemble the platter, start with the large ingredients on the bottom and work around the edges of you plate or tray until you have a ‘frame’ so to speak. Then add the ingredients in descending size order until you’ve covered most of the blank space. Leave the smallest stuff until last so you can plug any gaps that are left.
For fruit platters, shop for whatever is in season and go for a mixture of fruit that is big and small. There is no shame in buying only one orange, one passion fruit etc for the sake of a fruit platter! I also like to throw on some mixed nuts for texture so long as no one has a nut allergy. Anaphylaxis at a family reunion is never a good look.
In my humble opinion, the cheese platter is the king of platters. Again, remember the variety – both in crackers, condiments and cheese. Go for small lumps of something firm (mature cheddar), something soft (gouda, Jarlsberg etc), something creamy (creameux, brie, camembert, d’afanois) and something blue (go for mild rather than pungent). If you have the space, a pate and a goat cheese help to spice things up a little.
Place the cheese down first with enough space separating them, followed by your condiments (nothing beats a good quince paste!). I then frame the cheese with a mixture of water crackers and rice crackers depending on dietary requirements, add some fruit (passionfruit, figs, anything that’s easy to pick up) and throw on a handful of nuts to finish.
What to bring when you have literally no idea – also makes for a great present idea!
Avoid anything with the potential to go soggy. For mine I’ve used homemade pastries (puff pastry triangles baked with a piece of chocolate inside is stupidly easy and effective!), a variety of berries, nougat pieces and nut bars, as well as chocolate coated nuts. You could easily use firm brownies and add some melted chocolate pots to dip things into – but remember to use different sized dessert tidbits with different textures for maximum effect.
So there you have it, some perfectly pimped platters to impress with the best!