This holiday season, impress your guests with a flavourful eye-popping spread that’s easy to shop for and a snap to prepare. Get inspired with these three boards, then read below for the keys to building each one.
How to build a special occasion cheese board
Pair hard, soft and semi-soft cheeses with homemade crackers and cheeseballs (recipes for three variations follow), ripe fruit and honey for an entertaining platter with loads of flavour and elegance. Don’t know which cheeses to buy? Try these:
Soft cheese: Brie, camembert, or triple créme.
Semi-soft cheese: Le Douanier, oka or fontina.
Hard cheese: Parmigiano reggiano, aged gouda or manchengo.
Blue cheese: Stilton, roquefort or cashel blue.
Wow factor: Burrata cheese. Italian for “buttered,” burrata (boo-RA-ta) is a luxuriously creamy fresh mozzarella. Dress it up with roasted hazelnuts, basil, good olive oil and sea salt.
Cheese board strategy
1. Buy three or four types of cheese. When in doubt, try something soft, something hard and something blue.
2. Estimate 30 to 45 g cheese per person and serve on a whole piece of wood, marble, slate or tile.
3. Dress up your board with some name tags and some beautiful cheese knives.
4. Provide lots of bread, crackers or sliced baguette. Add a handful of dried fruit, nuts and fresh fruit to cleanse the palate.
5. Bring cheeses to room temperature one hour before serving to release their flavours.
Seafood board strategy
1. Thaw and pat dry shrimp. Mix sriracha with cocktail sauce for some heat.
2. Pre-shuck oysters and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3. Crush ice in a resealable bag and scatter onto a platter. Serve oysters on top.
4. Stir salsa verde with chopped cilantro, olive oil and sour cream for a fresh green seafood dip.
5. Serve prepared toasted nori sheets sprinkled with sea salt for making impromptu wraps.
Charcuterie board strategy
1. Plan to serve 60 to 90 g of charcuterie per person.
2. Slice dried, hard sausages into rounds. Try a spicy chorizo and a mild summer sausage.
3. Add a paper-thin sliced serrano ham, prosciutto or coppa, and arrange loosely.
4. Serve it all with something pickled to cut the richness, nuts for crunch, sliced baguette, crackers, a selection of mustards, and dried fruit, jam or chutney for a sweet contrast.
Watch: Chatelaine Basics: How to shuck an oyster