Picture this: The phone rings and as you are answering the call, you see your relatives or close friends you didn’t know where coming by pull into your driveway and pile out of their car. You know they have traveled quite a distance to see you and need some refreshments after their long ride. Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
One idea is a fun, delicious and versatile cheese and meat board (Charcuterie Board.) Through the years I learned to always, all year long, have a few different boxes of crackers and a summer sausage in my pantry, at least two types of cheese in my refrigerator and a couple of small finger foods in my freezer for unexpected guests. It is perfect for a quick throw together for impromptu guests, weekend get together, the holidays or a light meal for one or two people. My husband and I enjoy such a treat on lazy kick back weekends.
Do not let a cheese board intimidate you. The board can be as big or small as you want. Most important thing to remember is to have fun with your presentation and food. It’s your board so make it with the items you have at home. You know what your family and friends love to eat. Make it with those items in mind or otherwise nothing will be eaten. If your wood board is small you can place some of your goodies in bowls surrounding your board.
Always remember to add love to it as you are making it. That is the extra special additive that makes everything taste wonderful.
On this large board is the following: Starting at the left hand bottom is smoked Gouda cheese. Above the Gouda you will see my husband’s favorite linguica that I have cut on the diagonal. Also are a few slices of Camembert cheese on top that the ants are carrying away. Heading to the right corner you will find my favorite – the loaded potato skins that I have cut in half for easier eating. The other ants are carrying away goat cheese that I have formed into little balls and rolled in chopped pistachios. The right top corner you’ll find some green grapes. Bottom right hand corner you will find spicy samosas. A couple of the ants found the bowl of green olives and are heading out with them on their backs. And down the center are whole wheat Triscuit crackers.
Below you see another way to do your board. It is simple but effective. Here I have incorporated Brie cheese, water crackers, wheat crackers, Jack cheese, salami and mixed nuts.
Sometimes you just want a little snack with a glass of wine for yourself and a loved one before dinner. This small board does the job of holding pepper Jack cheese, butter crackers and salami.
Steps To Make Board
Pick out a variety of sweet and savory items for the board. You know your family and friends best so try to have something on the board for everyone. If Uncle Joe loves sweet pickles make sure to have a small bowl of sweet pickles by your board for him.
Chose Your Board
The board can be round (a plate), square (a tray), rectangular (a cookie sheet beautifully covered in tinfoil) or the back of a cutting board as I used. You can make your cheese board as big or little as you wish. People are going to be more interested in your goodies than the type of serving tray.
How To Arrange Your Board
If you are serving dips or condiments arrange those items first on your board. If possible use small glass bowls which will make it easier to see when they need to be refilled. You will need bowls for condiments and certain savory or sweet items. So before getting started decide on your bowls.
Also, if you are placing whole cheese wedges on the board you need to position and space them out on the board at the same time you are arranging the condiment bowls.
If you are not precutting the cheeses then every type of cheese will need its own cheese knife. You do not want the cheeses to mingle flavors from the knife.
Choose condiments such as jalapeno jelly, whole grain mustard, ranch dip, salsa, balsamic dip, olive oil and hummus.
Black or green olives, plain or flavored almonds, pecans or cashews, pickles and roasted peppers in small bowls.
Candied nuts, jalapeno jelly, dried fruits such as cherries, figs or apricots, mints, special chocolate candy and preserves in small bowls.
Try using a variety of cheeses and textures. Cheeses to use such as smoked Gouda, spicy Jack, white cheddar, Camembert, Brie, goat, Swiss, Stilton, Fontina, and parmesan.
Bring the cheeses and meats to room temperature before serving to bring out their goodness.
Fill In The Gaps
You will now fill in the gaps on your board with the sliced meats, bread, crackers and fresh fruit.
Meat (charcuterie aka: cured meat)
Sliced meats such as salami, linguica, prosciutto, pepperoni, summer sausage, deli meats, ham, bacon and cured chorizo. You can arrange the meat like shingles to fill up the board. Also, you can roll the meat and stack the rolls like pyramids.
Bread and Crackers
Small baguette sliced thinly, crunchy breadsticks, whole wheat crackers, water crackers, and plain flavor Triscuit crackers. Really, any cracker in different shapes, flavors and size that you enjoy eating.
Seasonal fruit makes a nice addition to your board. Fruits to use are tangerine sections, sliced pears, whole strawberries and raspberries, blueberries along with red and green grapes.
Double Check The Board
Check to see if you have any gaps in your board. If so you need to add extra items to the board to fill the gaps up. You want to keep it colorful and also keep it simple with foods you know people will like and enjoy eating. Enjoy, Happy Eating!!