Checkerboard Cheese Antipasto Platter

I don’t know if it’s the change in the weather, the stress of life in general or just a part of getting “old” but I have been fighting one heck of a head/chest cold these days.Christmas Goodies 12-23-2012 (8)Unfortunately, it means I haven’t been spending “quality” time in the kitchen. None of the usually Christmas goodie projects – no gift baskets of home-baked cookies, fudge and assorted candies. (I did manage to make some very yummy Santa Hats – Ho Ho Ho Cheesecake Bite Santa Hats. Big hit with the family.) In years gone by, Kiddo and I have teamed up in the cookie department. I bake, he hand paints the most beautiful cookies. As for the fudge, truffles and other sweets, it’s a team effort all the way around – even Hubby’s been known to get into the act. Not this year. The yucky bug and other stuff has kept me from the kitchen . . . and from blogging. Bummer!

There’s just one thing I can do – pull out some trusted recipes from the past to share with you today. Sorry I don’t have the step-by-step photos to share . . .

This yummy cheese antipasto platter was one of the things I put together for my Dad’s 80th Birthday party a few years back. We had decided to make Dad’s surprise party an all-appetizer party for several reasons – it was easy to set up the appetizers ahead of the arrival of the guest of honor – the only timing issue involved was to get there early and hide your car. Appetizers allowed Dad’s guests to mingle throughout the afternoon – not tied to a sit-down meal or time schedule. It’s amazing how “full” you can get on finger-food. Lord knows, with my sisters and I in charge of the food, there was no shortage of anything.

With all the recent posting for holiday appetizers, my sister in Oregon requested that I send her this recipe. While I sent her the recipe via email, it made me realize I should post it here, too. If I ever get over this cold, I might just have to make these for New Years . . .

Checkerboard Cheese Antipasto Platter
Ingredients – Marinade
1/2 Cup olive oil
1/4 Cup white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons Red wine vinegar
Liquid from Marinated Mushroom Caps
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 Tablespoons minced green onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup diced pimento, drained
1 Roasted Red Pepper, from a jar, Chopped
1 Teaspoon sugar
3/4 Teaspoon dried basil
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Ingredients – Cheese Checkerboard
1 (16 oz.) block sharp cheddar cheese
1 (16 oz.) Block Mozzarella Cheese (or other mild white cheese, including Cream Cheese)

Ingredients – Garnish
1 small jar marinated mushroom caps
Green Olives as desired
Salami as desired

MAKE THE MARINADE: Open jar of marinated mushroom caps. Drain marinating juice from mushrooms into a larger jar, place mushrooms in a bag and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Combine all the remaining ingredients for the marinade into the jar; cover tightly and shake vigorously.  Set aside for 1 hour for flavors to marry. Vigorously shake again just before using.

MAKE THE CHEESE CHECKERBOARD: Make sure cheeses are well-chilled. (Place in freezer for 15 minutes).  Cut block of cheddar in half lengthwise; then cut each half in half again lengthwise. Cut crosswise into squares.  Set aside.

Cut Mozzarella cheese (or other white cheese) following same procedure. (Use sliced cheddar cheese as a guide)

ASSEMBLE PLATTER: Arrange half of the cheese in a checker board patter on a square rimmed serving platter.

Spoon half of the marinated over top of cheese.

Arrange remaining half of cheese in a checker board patter, making sure that white cheese rests on top of yellow cheese.

Spoon remaining half of marinate over top of cheese.

Drizzle with liquid from marinate, just enough to soak cheese well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Using several paper towels folded together, mop up any excess liquid from rim of serving platter. (You will be amazed as to how much liquid has gathered around the rim of your platter, leaving behind a concentrated “herb” dressing for the cheese).

FINISHING GARNISH: Arrange mushrooms around cheese. Tuck green olives as desired around and between mushroom caps to give eye pleasing contrast.

Fold salami in half, then in half again. Tuck pointed end under mushrooms and green olives to help hold the folds. Cover and refrigerate.

Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to serving. Serve with decorative colored cocktail forks.

Enjoy!

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