Who doesn't love a cheese platter and a glass of wine in the company of good friends? It's a pretty good way to end the week and kick off the weekend, and if you can find a location or view to match you're winning!
Grazing plates seem to be all the rage at the moment, so here I am, jumping on the bandwagon! When I have a bit more time to put a cheese plate together I like to include some healthier, sometimes homemade options so that we can enjoy our cheese plate a little more guilt-free! It's not hard to include things like nuts, dried and fresh fruit, and fresh, pickled or roasted vegetables to add interest and food that will nourish. Often at the deli you'll find sweet fruit pastes to serve with your cheese plate, and these are delicious but are usually full of sugar. Why not just serve delicious, healthy fresh fruit instead? I love fresh figs and grapes, but you could serve berries, slices of pear or dried fruit. There are also so many delicious vegetables that you can roast to bring out their sweetness and use as substitute for something like quince paste. Think, beetroot, onions, vine-ripened tomatoes and capsicum. Below, I've shared my favourite cheese plate component of them all – Crispy Seed Crackers!
A few years back a colleague of mine introduced me to these homemade seed crackers, and I was instantly hooked! He kindly made a huge batch for our engagement party which we enjoyed with a wheel of brie and slow-roasted vine-ripened tomatoes. I couldn't leave Sydney without getting the recipe, although, I have adjusted it a little to include easy to find ingredients. Not only are these crackers tasty and full of flavour, but they're also gluten and dairy-free AND your body will thank you for all those lovely nutritious seeds. I like to make a half batch of these every couple of weeks so that I have them on hand. They're very simple to prepare, but can't be made last minute as they take about 1½ hours to bake and cool.
CRISPY SEED CRACKERS:
1 cup chickpea flour
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ flaxseeds (aka linseed)
2 tsps fennel seeds
Sea salt flakes (or rock salt from a grinder)
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 150°C and cut two sheets of baking paper to line two baking trays.
In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add oil and stir to combine.
Add boiling water and mix thoroughly. The dough will be quite runny at first, thickening as the flour absorbs the water.
Spoon mixture onto the baking trays dividing evenly between each one. Place another sheet of baking paper over the mixture and use the back of a spoon over the baking paper on top to spread the mixture out evenly. You may like to use a rolling pin to gently spread the mixture out evenly and smoothly. Depending on the shape of your baking trays, you may find it easier to spread the dough on the paper before moving it onto the baking tray.
Once the dough has been spread thinly enough to cover each baking tray, slowly and gently peel back the top layer of baking paper and discard.
Sprinkle sea salt flakes over the dough to taste and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
Turn oven off and leave crackers in the oven with the door propped open to cool for 20 minutes (like you would with a pav!). Remove from oven and let cool on baking trays. When at room temperature, break into large enough pieces for your cheese platter.
These will keep for several days in an airtight container.
✖︎ You could swap out the olive oil for any kind of nut oil or avocado oil if you like. But I haven't tried these so you'd need to experiment!
✖︎ Try using any other seeds (or maybe even nuts) for nutrition or flavour.
✖︎ Add small dried fruit such as dried cranberries to add a little sweetness.
How do I make my cheese plates look pretty?
✖︎ Firstly, start with a nice platter or wooden board. You don't have to spend too much money either. I have a little collection of different sized plant pot saucers from the local nursery in different coloured glazes that I use as platters.
✖︎ I think it's good to create height, from the inside going out. On the platter pictured I've propped grapes up in the middle of the platter, followed by cheese with the crackers standing up, and then smaller pieces on the edge.
✖︎ Use smaller bowls to hold nuts and other things like olives and sun-dried tomatoes, this creates height and helps to contain smaller components.
✖︎ Incorporate different colours – if you're using a variety of fresh fruit and nuts this shouldn't be a problem!
✖︎ If you're serving cured meats or seafood, don't just place them on the platter as they were packaged. Separate each piece and layer them loosely around one another to create height and make them look even more appealing.
Looking for a nice wooden serving board?
A few weeks back I posted a DIY leather-handled wooden serving board. If you'd like to make one yourself you can find instructions here: