That Cheese Plate is a column by Marissa Mullen—cookbook author, photographer, and Food52's Resident Cheese Plater. With Marissa's expertise in all things cheddar, comté, and crudité—plus tips for how to make it all look extra special, using stuff you probably have on hand—we'll be crafting our own cheesy masterpieces without a hitch. This month, Marissa is sharing how to make an actually edible cheese and flower arrangement.
I’ve built a community around sharing new and exciting ways to arrange cheese plates. Today, we’re taking it beyond the plate with this cheesy bouquet, perfect for Mother’s Day (but let’s be honest, any day will work). You may be thinking, “Marissa, why? Wasn’t cheese already good enough on a plate?” Sure, but I’m here to give you permission to more fully express your creativity when it comes to snacks: Have fun (dare I say, even play) with your food!
This idea was inspired by Edible Arrangements—you know, the bouquets of flower-shaped pineapple chunks and melon cubes. I say it’s time to level up with real flowers, and throw in a few cheese hearts, salami roses, and cracker leaves! The pairings here are thoughtful, not just random fruit that doesn’t really go together: Each skewer includes the ingredients for a perfect bite. Plus, this bouquet makes for a stunning centerpiece for your celebration. Let’s dive in.
Select a vase with a wide mouth, and that isn’t too deep, to fit the skewers comfortably. Make sure the top halves of the skewers stick out with enough space for everyone at the table to be able to easily grab one. Though you could use any pitcher or vase you have, for this bouquet, I went with a glass pitcher, roughly 8 inches tall and 5 inches wide. I filled its base with wine corks for an added visual detail (plus it provides some height for the skewers).
After you set your base, add the greenery. I actually started with one of nature’s most beautiful leafy vegetables, rainbow Swiss chard. I also used a bundle of yellow roses and pink carnations, which are nontoxic to humans. Although you won’t be eating the greenery, you want to avoid any cross-contamination. I also rinsed my Swiss chard (which, of course, you could save and eat later) and flowers with water before placing them in the vase. I didn’t plan this, but the yellow and pink in the Swiss chard matched the flowers perfectly—sometimes things just work out.
Now it’s time for the cheese and accompaniments. I used 12-inch bamboo skewers to secure the items in place.
I used a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut a young cheddar and sliced a cow’s-milk tomme into long triangles to achieve some height. I’d suggest using younger cheeses for this arrangement: aged cheeses, like Parmesan, lose moisture, so they may crumble when pierced with a skewer. Also, blue cheese tends to be a bit crumbly, and Brie is creamy, so they won’t stay secured on the skewer. Some great cheese options to use are: mozzarella balls, fontina, Havarti, young Gouda, Emmentaler, or even grilled Halloumi.
I made salami roses out of sliced Genoa salami. To achieve this, fold four slices of salami in half and overlap them in a straight line (each slice should overlap the one before it by about one-third). Then roll lengthwise to create a rose shape. Pierce the skewer through the folded ends of the salami to hold the rolled meat in place.
I love pairing fresh fruit with cheese. Strawberries add a nice refreshing tang while blackberries offer a juicy, earthy sweetness. I also added dried apricots, an excellent pairing for the sharp cheddar and rich, grassy tomme.
In addition to the fruit, you can also add a variety of vegetable options to your bouquet, like cucumbers, cornichons, olives, and grape tomatoes.
The Finishing Touches
Behind the skewers, I added flatbread crackers. I suggest serving some crackers on the side also, for extra crunch. Lastly, I tucked sprigs of rosemary in the front of the vase and out of the sides for a bit more texture and detail, not to mention a subtle woody aroma.
This cheese bouquet will serve two to three people as a small appetizer; for a larger group, use a wider vase and add more skewers.