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A Centerpiece Pretty Enough to Eat

I can’t believe I am saying this, but Christmas is this week! How many of you will be hosting Christmas dinner? I will be hosting our family Christmas party. It should be about 20 of our closest friends and family for the holiday and I cannot wait. I still have so much to do before the dinner, but there is one thing I can completely cross off my list; appetizers.

This year I will be serving a charcuterie board. It will be right in the middle of the dining room table and will also work as my centerpiece. So actually I can cross centerpiece off my list too. The charcuterie board is the simplest and most stunning appetizer. There is no actual cooking required, you can get everything together days before. The spread is sure to be a show stopper!

Today I am sharing my 10 tips for creating a great charcuterie board.

1. Don’t be afraid to mismatch. Using mismatched cutting boards and platters will give a more rustic and home feel. Wooden cutting boards and long platters should be used to display pieces and incorporate ramekins for jams and spreads. I even like to use different materials. You will always see a bronze or copper element on my table.

2. When displaying, I love incorporating elements of height. Stacking the cutting boards on each other will allow you to stager ingredients. A wooden box or crate can bring the display up to a whole new level.

3. 2 Words: Prep work. Getting done as much as possible before the party is the best thing you can do. I like to slice cheeses and meats and then store in their original packaging until the party. That way I won’t mix up parmesan with a pecorino. Getting all the fruits washed and jams poured into ramekins so they can chill in the refrigerator will make it easy to grab and go when you are ready to display.

4. Symmetry. What you do to one side of the cutting board, do to the other. That way when displayed in the middle of the table, guests can comfortably get to all ingredients. If your table is up against a wall, use the rotation trick. Once one side gets eaten down, just rotate the board so the other side displays.

5. Don’t forget about utilizing non-edibles. It’s not all about the food. Adding some greenery and colorful fruit can add the perfect amount of color and make the table pop. I added sprigs of juniper and persimmons to brighten up the table.

6. Less is best. Don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of choices at the market. When picking out what should be on the board, I like to stick to the 3-4 rule. Pick out 3-4 cheeses, 3-4 meats, 3-4 fruits, and 3-4 condiments. Having less choices will let your guests savor the ingredients instead of trying to eat them all.

7. There is no wrong ingredient. I really like to incorporate seasonal ingredients whenever possible. Butternut squash is in season. I cubed one squash up and mixed with a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. I roasted at 400F for 20 minutes. Once it was cooled, I added it to the board. It is an unexpected ingredient but it was delicious.

8. A little goes a long way. The rule of thumb for an appetizer; estimate 2 oz. of food per person. Each piece should be 1 to 2 bites. This is decadent and rich food, a little will go a long way. I like to cut the slices of prosciutto into strips so they are more manageable and will last longer than single large slices.

9. Sweet and Savory Compliments. It's okay if you are not a cheese connoisseur or have a degree in cured meats. When it comes to flavors all you need to know is cheese pairs well with sweet and meat goes better with the savory. Make sure you have plenty of fruits, spreads, and pickled sides for each.

10. It’s a party. Add what you want and present how you want. There should be no fussing over the appetizers. If something runs out, add more of something else you have. What’s important is that everyone is together and you have a Merry Christmas.

My Charcuterie Shopping List - 4 oz. Prosciutto - 4 oz. Capicola - 8 oz. Italian Salami - Brie Cheese - 6 oz. Goat Cheese - 8 oz. Gouda - 8 oz. Parmesan or Blue Cheese - Red Grapes - Blackberries - Raspberries - Assorted Olives - Candied Pecans - Butternut Squash - Blueberry Jam - Orange Marmalade - Italian Baguette - Assorted Crackers - Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I hope these tips help you build an amazing charcuterie board. Let us know how yours turned out! Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!



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