It can be difficult to feed a crowd while still maintaining a sense of style – and great taste in the process! Our favorite ? A board of cheeses and cold meats, ideal to share. To find out how to create a pasture board that ticks all of these boxes, we asked Sandy Coughlin, creator of Reluctant Entertainer and author of Big Boards for Families, to share an exclusive excerpt from the book with tips for creating healthy charcuterie boards. and healthy ones that bring everyone around the table. Plus, keep reading for his recipe on How to Make a Chocolate Fondue Board.
A board is a creation of love that you make for your family or loved ones because in a unique way, those who feed people rule people. It doesn’t have to be perfect and the ingredients can vary from board to board. Make it yours, use what you have, and don’t take it too seriously. The aim is to bring people together in a relaxed setting, in a unique way.
I like to think about the sweet times I created a great board for family or friends and the looks on their faces when they first saw the board. The smile on their faces and the look in their eyes are more than surprising, it’s also about being loved, honored and cherished. I am honored to be part of your family council and table!
EASY ADVICE AND TIME SAVING
Find your inspiration
• Think of creating your painting like an artist approaches a blank canvas. Consider what the focal point will be, as well as the colors that appear in the right places.
• Serve a favorite family recipe and explain why it is so important to you. Tell your children the story of the recipe and why it is so important to you. It will probably be the first time they find out about your special story.
• Watch the changing seasons, inspired by the colors, tastes and seasonal foods, often found at the local farmers market.
• Let yourself be guided by special events: think of baby shower and bridal parties, end of year celebrations, picnics, camping, backyard barbecues, poolside parties, birthdays, to celebrations, vacations and more.
• Explore different parts of the world and culinary dishes with the family. Read or watch shows about each country while feasting on their cuisine. Not only will you discover new ingredients and dishes, but you will also gain a better understanding of the connection between food and culture.
• For multigenerational gatherings, invite grandparents, aunts and uncles, or elderly neighbors to enjoy a board.
• Are you inspired by the planks, but not by the baking process? That’s okay, because with the boards you can find almost anything in your local grocery store, bakery, or farmers market.
Simple steps to make your creation
1. Plan your menu by writing down recipes or taking a picture of those in this book.
2. Search your pantry before you go shopping. You may already have some of the ingredients, or replace them with something similar, which will save your family money and time.
3. Know how many people you are serving; match the size of the board to the number you are feeding.
4. Decide which ingredients or main course will be the “star” of your platter.
5. When you’re short on time, take shortcuts. Buy roast chicken, brownies from the bakery, or a potato salad from the deli. It doesn’t all have to start from scratch.
6. If guests are coming, ask them to bring in an aspect, or “corner,” for the painting. You might think it’s a burden, but it’s not. We have seen how much people love to contribute.
7. Prepare as much as possible in advance. For example, you can prepare the main course ahead of time and assemble the board an hour before serving.
Put it all together
1. Start with your focal point, then build around it. Place what you will serve as a main course in a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) saucepan, plate or casserole dish; this helps conserve space so that you can see the vision of the board and the best way to assemble the food around it. Always use a heating pad or trivet when placing a hot dish on a food board.
2. Do you want to create a design? Play with the shapes and lines of your ingredients and dishes — straight, spiral, diagonal, triangular, or spontaneous!
3. Next, fill all small bowls with dips, spreads, jams, condiments or sauces.
4. Fill the remaining part of the board with seasonal produce, fresh herbs, crackers, chips and nuts, or just leave some blanks.
5. Always put hot food in last, just before serving the board. Keep extra foods warm in the oven and refill as needed.
6. If you plan to have refills for perishable foods, keep them in the refrigerator and refill as needed.
7. Prepare the dishes you will need for serving, including utensils and plenty of napkins.
For a fun night out, take it a step further and plan a family game, charades, or catchy conversation starters. Or how about eating and watching a movie together? Serve a plank outside or bring it on a picnic.
Simple conversation starters:
• What is your middle name and how did you get it?
• What was the first concert you attended?
• What was your favorite part of the day?
• Which subject do you like the most and the least in school and why?
• What job do you see yourself doing when you grow up?
• Share a story about your children when they were babies or toddlers.
• Share your life when you were your children’s ages.
• What is your favorite meal that mom makes? What about dad? (It’s fun and can lead to future painting ideas!)
• What is the only food you will not eat and why?
• Who is your favorite family member outside of this family?
• In five years, what do you think you will do?
• What is your favorite application on your phone and why?
• What is your favorite movie and why?
How to make a chocolate fondue board
Raise your hand if you also have a drawer in your kitchen entirely dedicated to chocolate, you certainly do. Obviously, I’m a shameless fanatic of any form of chocolate – a simple bar, Nutella spread, or a decadent flourless chocolate cake. Chocolate goes well with anything (hello, bacon and chips), which is why I created this board. You can compile your favorite chocolate companions on a dessert board that will satisfy everyone. If you are short on time, everything except the fondue can be purchased in the store.
POINT: Prepare the fondue in advance and store it in the refrigerator. Just before serving, heat on the stove over low heat or in the microwave at 50% power until heated through.
Keep scrolling down for the recipe!