Kitchen Doors: Bountiful Boards

Boards have become extremely popular for entertaining and celebrating. They offer endless options and a pleasing presentation for everyone to enjoy.  

Photo courtesy of Shea Cheese

“Grazing boards are a great way to celebrate getting together,” said Jenny Zink, co-owner of Shea Cheese in Phoenix, which offers boards, a wide selection of cheeses and classes. “Instead of setting out 20 different dishes, you can incorporate them all into one beautiful platter.”

Boards are versatile and can be customized for a variety of holidays and occasions. “Holiday boards can include both savory and sweet items, as well as decorations. They also make great gifts,” said Liza Noriega, owner of She Shed Chef. One of She Shed Chef’s most popular boards is the Largecuterie, a grazing table for large gatherings, which includes meats, cheeses, fruit, bread, crackers and a variety of homemade spreads. “People want to celebrate in their homes with a unique table of food. It’s super convenient because I do all the preparation, delivery and set up, and leftovers can be enjoyed later.”

Holiday boards can incorporate flavors of the season. “For our Thanksgiving boards, we like to pick cheeses that pair with classic Thanksgiving flavor profiles, such as adding Sage Derby, a cheese from England that has a flavor profile similar to a mild cheddar laced with sage. We also like to add a smoky cheese like Gouda,” said Mahfam Moeeni-Alarcon, co-owner and chef at Mingle + Graze, a cheese shop and eatery in Chandler. “For Christmas, we love using rosemary to garnish our boards and Christmas cookies for that extra pop of holiday fun. For a sweet treat, we add peppermint bark.”

Many people enjoy creating their own boards, and there are expert tips and classes to provide guidance and ideas.

“Remember, the threes — three types of meat, three kinds of cheeses, three spreads, three types of crackers and three types of snacks,” said Noriega, who teaches a charcuterie board class at LDV Winery’s tasting room in Old Town Scottsdale. 

In addition to the aesthetics, consider your guests’ preferences. Boards can easily be customized for vegetarians, vegans and people who are gluten-free or have other dietary restrictions.

Photo courtesy of She Shed Chef

“You can add charcuterie or keep it vegetarian. Fruit is always a must to add pops of color. Jams, mustards, honeys and olives add a nice touch. Nuts give it a great look,” Moeeni-Alarcon said.

Ask for suggestions at your local cheese shop. “We encourage people to start with the cheese,” Zink said. “Soft, hard and blue are great places to start. If you don’t like brie, you can choose another soft cheese, like a fresh chevre or a creamy burrata. For a hard cheese, choosing something in the cheddar family is an easy win. If you’re not a fan of blue, choose a flavored cheese like a fun Cajun cheddar or a truffle cheese. Once you have your cheeses, you can add other things to make your board pop. We recommend using this formula: cheese, meat, produce, pickle, dip, crunch and something sweet.”

Whatever the occasion, guests are sure to love a board.  

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About Shoshana Leon

Shoshana Leon is a culinary writer for Frontdoors Media and creator of Foodie Fo Sho.

From Frontdoors Magazine

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