For any cheese lover, the idea of being able to work your way around a selection of contrasting cheeses is one of the best ways of indulging your passion. When putting together a cheeseboard the aim is for a contrast of textures, tastes and shapes. Mild to strong, rounds and wedges, light against dark, soft and hard - it's about making an aesthetic impact as much as a gastrominoc one. The chutney will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.
- 200g (7oz) packet Cooleeney (soft moulded creamy cheese)
- 190g (7oz) carton Ardsallagh soft goat's cheese
- 275g (10oz) wedge mature cheddar cheese, such as hegarty's
- 250g (9oz) wedge crozier blue
- For the Onion and Fig Jam:
- 2 tblsp olive oil
- 2 red onions, thinly sliced
- 1 small Bramley apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- 150g (5oz) ready-to-eat dried figs, finely chopped
- 3 tblsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tblsp dark soy sauce
- 75ml (3fl oz) red wine or ruby red port
- 50g (2oz) light muscovado sugar
- Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Oat biscuits, to serve (see separate recipe)
- To make the Onion and Fig Jam, heat the olive oil in a large pan and tip in the red onions, then cook for 10 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the figs, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, red wine or port and sugar until well combined. Sauté for another 5 minutes, tossing occasionally.
- Sprinkle over a tablespoon of water, then reduce the temperature and cook gently for 25-30 minutes. The onions should make a soft, sticky, sweet and sour jam.
- Season to taste and leave to cool. Transfer to a bowl, then cover with clingfilm and chill until needed.
- At least a half-an-hour before you are ready to serve, remove all the cheeses from the fridge and their packaging. Arrange on a wooden board with a bowl of the onion and fig jam and oat biscuits and small mounds of the grapes.
- Hand around plates to each guest and allow people to help themselves.
- Top Tip: Ideally, the ultimate cheeseboard should contain a cheese from one of each of the main styles (see suggestions above). However, you can also just serve one good cheese in perfect condition with excellent impact. It can also be a good idea to introduce a cheese that many of your guests have never tried before.
More by Neven Maguire:
- Vanilla Ice Cream: Neven Maguire style
- Caramelised Pork Belly, Neven Maguire, Today show
- Moroccan Lamb Tagine: Alternative Easter dinner