The ultimate cheeseboard trimmings, from pickles to praline: recipes from The Cheese Life | Christmas food gifts

The ultimate cheeseboard trimmings, from pickles to praline: recipes from The Cheese Life | Christmas food gifts

Candied peanuts

Prep 5 min
Cook 12 min
Cool 10 min
Makes Enough for 3-4 cheeseboards

125g blanched peanuts
15g
butter, melted
4 tsp icing sugar
2 tsp honey
½ tsp mixed spice
10g granulated brown sugar

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4, and line a baking tray with nonstick paper.

In a large bowl, mix the peanuts, butter, icing sugar, honey and mixed spice. Spread the mix evenly on the lined tray and bake for about 12 minutes, stirring once halfway, until the peanuts have a golden coating. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then stir to break up the nuts and shake the brown sugar all over the top.

These pair well with soft pungent cheeses, such as taleggio and Stinking Bishop, or hard, nutty sheep’s milk cheeses, such as manchego. Will last for up to a month in an airtight container.

Cumin praline

Note: be careful to avoid skin contact with the caramel at all costs.

Prep 10 min
Cook 10 min
Set 1 hr
Makes Enough for 3-4 cheeseboards

100g caster sugar
½ t
sp cumin seeds

Line a tray with nonstick paper and cut a second sheet of baking paper to a similar size. In a pan on a low heat, melt the sugar until it turns golden. Do not stir it – instead, to help it melt evenly, give the pan a little shake every now and again. Take off the heat and sprinkle in the cumin seeds.

Quickly pour the mix on to the lined tray, cover it with the second sheet of paper, then use a rolling pin to spread the mixture evenly across the tray. Leave at room temperature until set. Once set, break into medium-sized shards to serve with your cheese. The praline will last up to a month in an airtight container. Try it with a fruity gouda or a soft, spicy blue.

Pickled grapes

Prep 15 min
Cook 10 min
Infuse 2 days
Makes Enough for 3-4 cheeseboards

6 tbsp sherry vinegar
55ml
white-wine vinegar
65g
caster sugar
½ t
sp black pepper
Salt
400g
red grapes
3 rosemary sprigs
, leaves picked

In a saucepan, mix six tablespoons of water with both vinegars, the sugar, pepper and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then take off the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Pick the grapes off their stems and make a small incision in the end of each one. Put the grapes in a pickling jar with the rosemary leaves, then pour the cooled pickling liquid over the top, making sure the grapes are fully submerged. Seal, then refrigerate for two days before serving, to give the flavours time to infuse. In an airtight container, these will last in the fridge for up to a month. They are perfect with soft, wrinkly rinded goat’s cheese or rich brie- and camembert-style cheese.

Roast pineapple

Prep 5 min
Cook 30 min
Makes Enough for 3-4 cheeseboards

1 pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced, then each slice chopped into quarters
Olive oil, to drizzle
25g brown sugar
Salt

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4, and line a baking tray with nonstick paper.

Spread out the pieces of pineapple slices on the lined tray, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the sugar and some salt. Shake to ensure each piece is well coated, then roast for about 30 minutes, until golden. Remove and leave at room temperature to cool.

The roast pineapple will keep for up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge. It works really well with hard, sweet and savoury cheeses, such as comte and parmesan.

  • These recipes are an edited extract from The Cheese Life: Recipes, Cheeseboards and Pairings, by Mathew Carver and Patrick McGuigan, published by Kyle Books at £25. To order a copy for £22, go to guardianbookshop.com