Every year I put fresh vegetables and cheeses on my Christmas Eve buffet. Most years I forget to photograph and post them, probably because I don’t think of making the displays as a “recipe”. I’ve made some adorable displays, my favorite being the Santa I made from red cherry tomatoes, cauliflower and other vegetables. A close second would be the tree I made from broccoli and decorated with cherry tomatoes and loops of several colors of sweet bell peppers. Neither of which I posted. Such a shame!
This year I did remember to photograph my piece de resistance: a tree of cheeses and grapes. It was even easier than my usual yearly displays but just as popular as we nibbled our way through the buffet.
Grapes are a hit or miss produce item in the grocery stores this time of year. Sometimes they’re not quite sweet enough, or tart enough, or crispy enough. I got lucky and these red and green grapes were both very good. I only had to wash them and remove them from the stems and they were ready.
Standing in front of various cheese displays, I kept in mind that most of my family like the less fancy cheeses. And many of them are children who don’t have very discerning palates. I went simple with a horseradish cheddar, a smoked cheddar, a cracked black pepper cheddar and good old Monterey jack cheese. That was a good variety. I bought them in bricks and cut them into cubes. I remembered to cut the labels off to display with the cheeses to prevent confusion.
With my grapes and cheeses in their zippered plastic bags I washed and cut up fresh parsley that would garnish my display. I’d also bough a little tub of red cherry tomatoes and a tub of golden zima cherry tomatoes. I used a zima as the top of my tree. I put the rest of the tomatoes into crystal dishes on the side with the leftover grapes later.
On the day of our family Christmas gathering (New Years weekend) I placed a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and assembled my tree. I could have made it a bit nicer using a cutting board or other container but I was rushed and this was family, not a UN cocktail party. Nobody was judging me.
I arranged alternating strips of cheese cubes and grapes and tapered them to the top as a Christmas tree. My tree was a bit plump and not so pointed, but nobody noticed. I used a piece of celery for the stalk and put the cherry tomato on top, as I mentioned. Then I remembered to take pictures before opening the buffet. Another successful year of food fun!
Cheese and Grapes Christmas Tree
A fun appetizer tree made with grapes and cheeses.
– 4 kinds of cheeses; cut into 3/4″ to 1″ cubes
– Red and green grapes; washed and removed from stems
– Parsley for garnish
– 2″ piece of celery for the trunk
– Cherry tomato for the top
Arrange on a parchment paper covered baking pan or platter of choice in strips, from wide on the bottom and narrowing toward the top.
Garnish with pieces of fresh parsley. Top with a cherry tomato or another piece of cheese cut into a star.
Adapted from ciao! Newport Beach