Happy Monday everyone! How many of you kicked off the Holiday's this weekend? We sure did, we bought and set up our Christmas tree and decorated it and the house. We went to Canadian tire to buy our tree, we always get real ones, and left with a laser green light that projects onto our house and a few other things. I don't know about you but Canadian Tire and Costco you always leave spending way more then you planned, because you always find smoking good deals and convince yourself that you actually need said item that is a smoking good deal.
One of my favourite things that are often at parties and gatherings are Charcuterie boards. I love how unique each one can be, the cheeses always vary and same with the meat selection. Every person adds their own little flare to what they want on their board. No two boards are the same.
There are basic elements to a Charcuterie board:
A beautiful display board
Cheese knives or spreading knives
Fresh or dried fruit
What I like to start with first, is looking for a board that is beautiful and will hold a good amount of food. Homesense, Winners, TJ Maxx, or other places like that will have a great selection of cutting boards or serving boards. When I find the board, I will often look for the perfect matching cheese knives, again you can usually find them in the same stores. The cutting board I found was a beautiful wood with a metal handle, the knives I found had bronze handles that had texture like wood. Yes the food is the important element to the Charcuterie board, but you wouldn't have a Charcuterie board if you had nothing to display it on.
Secondly, I start thinking about the food elements on the board. Do I want spicy meat? Do I want more soft cheeses? Do I want more pickled items? What kind of nuts pair well with the cheeses? Like I said earlier you can adjust and change every time you make one up. One thing that is important is to really think about the flavours, if your meats don't pair well with the cheeses or crackers, then the whole board will feel disjointed. Often times creamier cheese pair well with fresh fruit and a milder cured meat. Milder hard cheeses pair well with spicier meats and dried fruits and nuts. Crackers with fennel and dried fruit pair nicely with Brie and Camembert cheese.
A Charcuterie board can be as simple as you want and as complex as you want. If you are unsure of what to add to your board, a great thing to do is to go to your local farmers market or butcher and ask about what meats pair well with what cheeses. It is a great way to support local businesses and to also buy specialty local cheeses. In the summer I wrote up about the Carmelis Alpine Goat Cheese Artisan farm and about the wonderful local cheeses I got there. During Christmas there are tons of Farmers Markets and local markets that will give you an opportunity to find unique cheese, meat, nuts, and crackers.
But fear not! If you don't have time to shop at little markets you can actually get everything you need at Costco or you neighborhood grocer. Most of my items on the this board are from Costco, the olives I got from Sobey's in their bulk olive section.
On my board, I put a small ramekin bowl in the center with the olives, then I rolled up some of my meats and I spaced it out by doing cheese, meat, cheese, meat, cheese... you get it. I added some fresh grapes and crackers on the side and then in the center around the olives, I added nuts, and some Parmesan cheese crisps.
The elements on my board I chose were:
Cranberry Cinnamon soft, unripened Goat Cheese log
Whisps, Parmesan cheese crisps
Double Smoked Cheddar, cut into 1 inch cubes
Collier's Powerful Welsh cheddar
Kerrygold Dubliner, hard ripened cheese
Bousin cheese, garlic and herb
Garlic stuffed olives
Stuffed colossal olives
Hot Soppressata Salami
Sweet Soppressata Salami
Spinach and roasted garlic crackers
See you can add a lot to a Charcuterie board! We actually ate it as our supper on Saturday night, some times having something like that for supper is a nice change from a big heavy meal.
I hope everyone takes the time to enjoy the holidays. Don't stress yourself out about food, enjoy a little taste of everything and remember life is about balance.
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