Friday is here, again! Adam, the kids, and I are all heading to the home of our close friends’ for the perfect week’s end, evening…Family Pizza Night! When the host left it up to me to decide what to bring, I knew just the thing. The host, a fellow wine-lover, is currently pregnant and due literally any day (I know, right? She is such a huge stud, still hosting a social gathering!!!). Since she cannot have wine, I opted to provide her second favorite thing, cheese! The evening called for a charcuterie board.
Although not difficult, putting together an impressive charcuterie board is an art form. Don’t get me wrong, I will throw down any cheese and cracker spread you put in front of me. But a well-done charcuterie is something to be admired.
First begin by selecting whatever types of cheeses you prefer to serve. I enjoy a variety. I tend to serve one hard cheese, one soft cheese, a milk-mixture (goat, cow, sheep) of cheeses, and lastly, an aged cheese. For this particular charcuterie board I chose a soft Brie, an extra-aged Gouda, a Wensleydale blueberry, and a semi-soft Jarlsberg cheese.
A variety of cured meats is always best. I never met a man that did not love a slice of salami. Other crowd favorites are sliced sausages and prosciutto. Shown here is an Italian salami and a hickory smoked summer sausage.
The sky is the limit! Nuts are always a pleaser. I prefer almonds or cashews. Other good sides are dried fruits such as figs and apricots, pickles, olives (the salt factor compliments well), and some fresh fruits with color. Red or green grapes, raspberries, blackberries…feel free to follow seasonal trends regarding color and fruit selection.
Bread and Crackers. Think, CRUNCH. Braided pretzels, sliced, day-old french bread, and gourmet cracker varieties are always good!
I like to keep a stocked pantry. We all know moms who like to be emergency-ready for house fires, inclement weather and illness? Well, I like to be charcuterie-ready for last minute wine nights and drop-over company. It is all about priorities!
I keep the following ingredients on hand:
Dried fruits (It is a healthy snack for the kids too!)
Jar of pickles
Jar of green olives
Most of the pantry items listed above have a shelf life of 3 months! Why not keep them in stock so you are always prepared for a “the weather is beautiful” drop-in, happy-hour?
Take inventory of your pantry and then make your grocery list. These were my pantry-ready, items..
Simply for aesthetic purposes I like to plate things on an over-sized cutting board or a pretty silver platter.
Arrange cheeses first.
Next, fill in your meat and then all your extras like olives and dried fruits. To keep things visually interesting, I like to put some of my ingredients in little bowls or ceramic ramekins.
And, you are finished!
Remove cheeses from refrigeration 30 minutes before consumed and serve at room temperature. Enjoy with a favorite wine, beer, or a signature cocktail!
Lastly, I always like to bring a little something for my host. I found these cocktail napkins in a Montreal boutique. The personalized gift sticker is from an online company called, The Plaid Pen. You can order yours today at http://www.plaidpen.com. I am obsessed with all things monogrammed! These personalized stickers make a wonderful gift.
Enjoy your weekend!