The holiday season is finally here!
For most of that means it’s the season for good friends and family, great wine and tons of delicious food!
I have come to find there are two types of people that host holiday gatherings. The first type are the ones who reach deep into the freezer for the same boxes of frozen appetizers year after year and pop them in the oven a half hour before their guests arrive. I love that group of people and I know when I go there, they’ll have those bomb mozzarella sticks they have every year that I look forward to expect! Although I love them, the second type are the ones I personally identify with. The perfectionists and over over achievers. The ones who wake up the day of at the crack of dawn and start zipping all over the kitchen to prepare everything on the carefully selected serving ware for the event that you know are going to match the carefully selected cocktail napkins they purchased months ago. Side note: you can confirm with Tyson – it’s best to leave these types of people alone while they are in the zone.
When we first deemed our house to the gathering spot for events I knew I needed to move from the frozen food people to the made with love people. I wanted our friends and family to leave our house with full stomachs and for them to talk about the party for weeks after.
One of the easiest ways to jump from the first category to the second is with a charcuterie board. I always always always do a few charcuterie boards when we have company. They’re full of so many bite sized goodies and you can mix them up each time with different flavours, textures and colours.
I will break down the essentials to a charcuterie board for you below but you don’t have to stick with this at all – go crazy and mix it up! I do find that I like to do a few different boards because I scatter them across the kitchen counter, kitchen table and into the living room – the three areas people tend to congregate in our house. I do mine on wooden platters / wooden cutting boards because I like the rustic look of them when they come together but you can use any platter you’d like really.
Essentials for a charcuterie board:
You’ll want to incorporate a variety of crackers. These will of course compliment your cheeses but will also provide some much needed crunchy texture. I try and always have the following:
- Bread sticks
- Traditional style crackers (a mix of traditional, veggie, flax etc.) the more flavour, shapes and colours the better
- Bagel chips
- Toasted pita
Cheeses are an essential component to every charcuterie board. Be sure to offer a mixture of different tastes and textures. Don’t forget, you’ll need to set out cheese knives and toothpicks! For the hard cheeses I like to cube them up for easy eating but it’s not necessary)
- A hard cheese (such as cheddar, marble, provolone and gouda)
- A medium-hard cheese (such as swiss or jarslberg)
- A semi-soft or soft cheese (such as havarti, brie or neufchatel)
Dried fruits as well as fresh fruits are great for a charcuterie board because they add a subtle sweetness and also lots of colours. Pick and choose a few, you don’t have to go over board here.
- Dried mango – my personal favourite so I always like to serve it
- Dried pears – these pair well with buttery cheeses like brie, triple cream, cheddars etc.
- Dried apricots and cherries – these both go best with a tangy goats milk or sheep milk cheeses, blue cheeses or any funky aged cheese.
- Dried peaches – these pair well with sheep and cows’ milk cheeses. Cheeses that have nutty undertones like in a jarlesburg swiss and esquirrou make a great option
- When picking fresh fruit, it’s important to pick things that will hold up their appearance as the night goes on. I would recommend raspberries, grapes, and berries. Stay clear from choices like pineapple, kiwi and oranges.
Top off your board with a mixture of nuts, cured olives, mini pickles and either some humus or a spinach dip and you’re all set to entertain!
Do you have a signature dish or food item you whip together for gatherings? I’d love to hear about it!
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