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Monday, February 14, 2022

Homemade Vegetarian Charcuterie Board with Instructions

 

Confession, I love watching videos by the Holderness Family. They crack me up, talking about things that we all relate to, in hilarious parody format. And they had a video parody song about charcuterie, which I'd heard about but never had before, but that video really gave me a real hankering for some.

 

However, I really had no idea how to make one, but more than anything, I saw that they had crackers, but I am gluten free and can barely find a variety of gluten free crackers locally that I'd need to make one. I also wanted to make one that didn't combine meat and cheese, so either make a cheese one or a meat one. I got some ideas on how to make it, including this great instructional post on how to make an epic vegetarian charcuterie board. Once my friends directed me to where I could buy a few different types of gluten free crackers, I decided to make one. One of my friends told me that I can't call this a charcuterie board if this doesn't have meat on it, as charcuterie means meat in French, and should be called a cheese board instead, but the word has taken on a life of its own (such as poke bowls being called that, even without the fish, called poke, in Hawaiian) and even these types of things are often called charcuterie boards in the US.

I must confess, this was not a frugal endeavor. However, it was a week before my birthday and I decided that this charcuterie board would be in honor of it. It cost me about $85 to make, but that also included a lot of leftovers. It was enough for 6 people for an entire meal (along with extra crackers that didn't fit onto the plate) so a celebratory dinner for 6 people for $85 is not too bad, especially since going to a restaurant it would have cost about that much for 2 people, let alone six, and it was much more special than a restaurant meal would have been. (One of the people who came decided to gift me a beautiful ring; she had no idea when she did that that I'd bought her a necklace. No, not as beautiful as the ring she bought me, but a silly necklace embracing her weirdness. And because I'm weird like that, I got it as a friendship necklace- so I could also wear one as well). Because I love cheese. And I decided to put more expensive fruit to make it extra special, but I could have done it more cheaply too- I saw a video on how to make a cheaper charcuterie board as well.


So here is how I made mine.

First I wanted to list everything I put on mine. I could have done less variety, but I wanted to go all out. 
  • Cheeses: Herbed feta cubes, herbed cream cheese, manchego, gouda, swiss cheese, cheddar, a local semi-soft cheese, brie with pecan, camembert, and lox
  • A few types of olives, both with pits and without, and pickles, canned stuffed grape leaves, mini peppers, cherry tomatoes.
  • Grapes, strawberries, blueberries, milk chocolate with nuts, caramel with nuts, pecans
  • Strawberry jam, peach jam
  • Gluten free everything pretzel crisps, gluten free saltines, gluten free bread sticks
I asked for advice from a friend who runs a charcuterie business and she told me what types of things you want to have. Essentially, I was told to have a mix of sour, sweet, and savory, some dips, and a mix of textures, etc. It was recommended to me to keep a variety of shapes and sizes, so cut/place the food in different shapes/folds, but all easy finger food other than the dips. That chocolate, fruit, and nuts are great to have with it, even if you wouldn't necessarily think of eating these foods together with cheese. This is more or less what I put on it, other than the extra packages of crackers, and an extra thing of cream cheese that I didn't end up using. I also didn't use most of these either. I used an entire package of lox, all the strawberries, blueberries, and grapes, and all the camembert and chocolate, but everything else had a lot left over for other meals.



Then, just based on my own observations and thoughts, I knew that when it came to placing the stuff out, not only did I want it to look pretty and full (because otherwise, you might as well just have a serving platter, charcuterie boards are meant to look like an overflowing cornucopia of goodness), but I also didn't want to have anything with flavors that don't go together touching each other, so the flavors don't combine (pickles and chocolate, anyone?) and also to make sure wet things didn't touch dry things that would be ruined by the wet (soggy crackers, anyone?), which meant putting things in little bowls if they were wet, or dry them off with napkins before putting them on the board (olives, pickles, fruit, etc). (Run on sentence, anyone?)

Following the advice from the link I shared above, I first put the larger items out.

I decided to bake my brie with honey on it (oh my gosh, it is heavenly that way!) so put the top part of the packaging on the platter to save room for it. In retrospect, I should have crisscrossed it more so that we could dip into it more easily, and I should have baked it in a container and not just its wooden casing since it started spilling out the bottom.


First I put out the cream cheese, herbed feta cubes, and containers of different types of olives. These olives are oily and couldn't be dried off, so they needed containers. If you have any big containers they need to go on first. And of course, if you find things need to be moved around once you put them out, that also is fine.


Next step was adding the cheeses, lox, and jam. I folded the swiss cheese, rolled up the lox, fanned out the "yellow cheese" (I have no idea what the American equivalent of this is, its similar to a gouda or munster), made thick slices of the pecan brie, and cubed the manchego, another cheese whose name I forgot, and cheddar.


After that, it was crackers and cracker type things. I decided to fan the pretzel crisps around a jar that I put the bread sticks in, and propped the crackers up against another container.


I then added the veggies, some olives, pickles and most of the fruit. I sliced strawberries in half, sliced the pickles in half, because they were too big to put out as is, but kept everything else whole. In order for flavors to not mix badly or get too wet, I put olives and sour things either near containers, vegetables, lox, or cheese. Next to the crackers I only put dry things like cheeses, cherry tomatoes, dried blueberries, and containers. Fruit only touched crackers, cheese, containers, and other fruit. At this point I did need to move things around a bit to be able to make that happen. 


To top it all off, I added some chocolate squares, nuts, more olives, and grapes. 

To eat it, I provided toothpicks. Everything was picked up with toothpicks, other than the dips, into which things were dipped (but no double dipping). And we tried dipping everything! Since it was our first time eating these, could be it should have been different with everyone getting little plates to put stuff on, but I thought that might have been missing out on part of the fun.

I served this with a glass of wine for me and the other adult who ate with us.

It was so awesome. Literally all my favorite foods. Cheese, cheese, cheese, and wonderful fruit. It was so great that I decided to do another charcuterie board, this time with meat and no cheese. Can't wait to show you how I make that.

Have you ever had a charcuterie board at an event? Bought one? Made one? How much have you spent on making one? If you've done it cheaply, what cheap things did you put on it? Does this seem like something you'd make? Oh, and cheese board? Charcuterie? Or grazing board? What would you call this?

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