So inspired by those gorgeous graze boards (platters of cheese and charcuterie glory!) shared the other day, I created a quartet of my own beautiful boards as an appetizer for a dinner party to celebrate our son Luke’s birthday. A handsome bunch of his closest friends gathered in our kitchen to raise a glass to the birthday boy (who desperately needed a break from the daily grind of law school).
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There’s so much to love about serving this style of appetizer…the sense of abundance, color, and deliciousness. And the prep doesn’t get much easier since there is no cooking or baking! Since so many of our guests avoid gluten, I left it off the boards, and if you have yet to discover the deliciousness of these gluten-free artisan crackers, get discoverin!
For the birthday dinner, I served more of my son’s favorites: easy bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese, brie fondue, two cheesy baked pastas (yes, more cheese!), and a homemade funfetti bundt cake with buttercream icing. I’ll share recipes soon. You could skip baking a cake and opt for quality chocolates from ZChocolat for an easy dessert.
If you are hosting Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s, maybe THINK CHEESE BOARDS or GRAZE BOARDS or CHARCUTERIE this year as an easy lovely option for a picky crowd. I went for a artfully messy kind of effect because it felt freeing to do so…so much else in my life requires order and restraint!
* Shopping List *
Triple creme brie, cow’s milk
Longhorn Colby – cow’s milk
Chèvre – goat milk
Canadian Cheddar – cow’s milk
Parmigiano Reggiano – unpasteurized cow’s milk
Wensleydale with Cranberries – cow’s milk
Kalamata olives, green olives, red and green grapes,
dried cranberries, pears, strawberries, blueberries, figs
Roasted peanuts, Smoked almonds
Assorted gluten-free crackers
How to Assemble a Beautiful Cheese Board
1. PLATTER MATTERS. Select a beautiful board or three.
Shop for new wood or marble boards or trays with a smooth surface. Visit this post to discover and shop for some of my favorites. While antique boards are pretty for display, they may not be the best choice for layering on your charcuterie.
2. CHOOSE THE CHEESE. Decide on a few different varieties of cheese, charcuterie, fruits, nuts, crackers, etc.
In terms of cheese, there are honestly no rules you must abide by beyond simply choosing what you love. If a stinky cheese gives you a headache, do not consider it! I love fruit-studded cheeses, and it doesn’t hurt that they add a great variety of color. As for charcuterie, I love the ease of pre-sliced coppa, proscuitto, and salami.
3. SLICE THE LOVELY. Slice some of the strawberries, pears, charcuterie, and cheese.
If there’s any secret at all, it’s this: leave some of the fruit and cheese whole, and also slice some of it. A few strawberry, fig and pear slices will add interest and beauty to the board. Slice the charcuterie thinly (if it didn’t pre-sliced) and dice some of the cheese into bite-size chunks. Simply style apples and pears on the table around the board for color and added beauty. Prepare the grapes: with kitchen shears, cut the stems for small individual bunches.
4. JOYFULLY ASSEMBLE! Artfully arrange ingredients on the board.
Begin with the largest items (cheese, meats, crackers) and then fill in, paying attention to what pleases your eye as far as color. Have fun with it!
Serving wine with this delish? Find pretty wine glasses here, and then I like to leave choosing wines to Martha…
Think Pink Rose Wine Pack – Martha Stewart Wine Co.
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What say ye? Do these look delicious? What’s your favorite snack on the boards?
Peace to you right where you are.