AFTER you’ve munched on mince pies, chowed down on turkey and overdosed on chocolates, there’s always room for one more festive indulgence – cheese.

While many of us opt for blue cheese at Christmas, there are plenty of other types available that are worth a place on your table.

“Christmas is a time when we traditionally eat a lot of Stilton.

But with more than 700 named cheeses currently being produced in the UK, the festive season is the perfect time to branch out and try other cheese as well,”

says Nigel White, who is the secretary of the British Cheese Board.

“Whichever cheese you try this Christmas, if you want to buy British, make sure you check the label to ensure that it is produced in the UK and not simply packed in the UK.”

When it comes to putting together the perfect cheese board, White recommends choosing pieces that are small enough to be eaten in one sitting, to avoid having to re-refrigerate.

Though it’s often a case of personal taste, some cheeses are at their best taken out of the fridge a good few hours in advance, so they can soften.

And when cutting, never chop off the ‘nose’ of the cheese (“You want to leave the wedge in the same shape as you found it,” says White), and think about what, if anything, you’re going to eat as an accompaniment.

Fruit, either dried or fresh, makes a great contrast to the tanginess of cheese, but if you want to serve biscuits, choose ones without too high a salt content as this can overpower the cheese. So which cheeses should you go for?

White recommends a Cheddarlike variety (ever popular, Cheddar makes up 55 per cent of all retail sales in Britain), a white mould cheese such as Brie or Camembert, a colourful one such as Double Gloucester, plus a blue cheese and a blended one.

“Never put too much on the cheese board or it ends up being expensive and wasteful,” says White.

4 individual shortcrust pastry tarts
15g butter
2 red onions, sliced
100g roasted red peppers (from a jar), torn into pieces
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
Few drops balsamic vinegar
100g Lancashire cheese, cut into chunks
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh thyme sprigs

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas Mark 4. Arrange the
pastry tarts on a baking sheet.
Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan and gently fry the onions. Add
the roasted peppers, cherry tomatoes and balsamic vinegar, stirring gently. Spoon into the tarts and share the chunks of Lancashire cheese between them.
Season with black pepper and add a couple of thyme sprigs.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until warmed through. Serve with salad.
Cook’s tip: As an alternative to Lancashire cheese, try the tarts
with Cheshire, Wensleydale or Caerphilly instead.