Charcuterie Charm … the tips and how to’s of charcuterie arrangements

I hoped to be inspired by the view and listening to the birds tweedle-dee-dee’ing … however, just the opposite happened; clever words are much harder to conjure up when surrounded by such bliss.

~ by Trenda

Today a sweet neighbor slipped into our garden gate and left a beautiful bouquet of roses and a get well card on our table outside. That was the only invitation and incentive I needed to fill a vase for my posy, grab my computer, and sit outside to write. The roses left by the sweet neighbor and their perfume kept me company while dear Richard worked on our garage door pulley that had broken … the nerve of the pulley breaking on such a day! I hoped to be inspired by the view and listening to the birds tweedle-dee-dee’ing … however, just the opposite happened; clever words are much harder to conjure up when surrounded by such bliss. So away from the dreamy pondering’s and on to “strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff”

Earlier this spring, Richard and I were sitting outside and it was time to start thinking about dinner. I didn’t really feel like “fixing” anything and I was reluctant for our evening outside to end. I went inside and started rummaging around in our cabinets and refrigerator to see what I could put together that would be quick and easy, substantial enough for a meal, and convenient enough to carry outside to eat. Hmmm … I pulled crackers and pretzels from the cabinets … pickled okra and cheeses out of the refrigerator … one apple, some deli roast chicken … a little of this and that. Then, I got out a platter and started arranging “my collection of foods” so they looked appealing and appetizing. I was pleased how quickly and easily it all came together … a platter of finger foods, a thermos for hot tea, and voila … dinner was ready! A charming charcuterie platter, just the perfect thing for a beautiful spring evening outdoors!

Charcuterie (pronounced shar-cute-uh-ree) is a French word and in Miriam Webster’s time was … “a delicatessen specializing in dressed meats and meat dishes.” Today, the trendy word charcuterie is a reference to any foods (appetizer’s, finger foods, or dessert’s) that are arranged on a cutting board or actual charcuterie board. The charcuterie boards available in the stores are vast and the selections range from elegant to rustic … marble slabs to knotty boards … and come in all shapes and sizes.

However, I love being enterprising and using items I already have. Platters, different sized chopping boards, and casserole dishes all work well for arranging and displaying charcuterie. Look in your kitchen and re-purpose items you already have for your own charcuterie display … any flat and “food safe” surface can be used. A 13 x 9 casserole dish makes an excellent base and helps keep accouterments in place. I use pretty, ruffly, “Loose Leaf Lettuce” to camouflage the sides of my casserole dish and the lettuce adds dimension to my charcuterie display. click here

Our Simple Charcuterie Platter

  1. Roasted chicken
  2. Pepperjack cheese
  3. American cheese
  4. Pickled okra
  5. Honeycrisp apple
  6. Stuffed peanut butter pretzels
  7. Wheat Thins crackers
  8. Zesty bread & butter pickles
  9. Pimiento cheese
  10. Celery

Charcuterie arrangement tips:

  • Roll or fold deli meats
  • Cube or cut cheeses into smaller squares
  • Cut fruits and vegetables into bite sized pieces
  • Arrange foods with contrasting colors and textures to compliment each other and make your charcuterie look more appetizing
  • Incorporate smaller dishes on your board or platter to create different heights and to add interest. Pictured Below … Crackers that tend to “spread out” and look messy on a platter I have contained in a miniature pedestal bowl. Now they stand upright, and look “fetching.” (: Another low oblong dish holds a mound of pimiento cheese. Celery sticks are on one side, ready for dipping while Zesty Bread & Butter pickles encircle the golden cheese. Small dishes are also a clever way to contain “wayward” foods … like my pickled okra! The okra, grouped together and standing upright in a glass creamer makes them look more appealing and urges in an “Alice in Wonderland” kind of way … “EAT ME!”

With my charcuterie platter ready, I gathered up a few more pieces of charm … an antique table runner trimmed in red, sprinkled with red daisy’s, and dear little cottages … a red plaid thermos to hold our tea … and tartan red napkins fit perfectly in our grand daughter’s miniature wicker picnic basket.

Variety is the very spice of life, that gives it all it’s flavor

William Cowper

Richard loved our impromptu dinner! The informality of the charcuterie platter added a subtle charm and carefree feeling to our al fresco dining that evening … and we stayed outside until the sun slipped away and tinged the sky and lake a beautiful pink.

More April “rambling’s” around our cottage

Encore Azaleas, Purple Iris, and Woodland Ferns in the rain … I went out while it was still dripping to take these pictures. The canopy of the trees shielded me for the most part, except when an occasional drop of rain would land on my shoulders … which only added to the loveliness.

Our Japanese Maple with a tiny birdbath I love tucked beneath it. Inscribed around the rim are the words, “His eye is on the sparrow.”

Our carefully cultivated moss-lined path and Japanese Maple almost glow in the light rain.

Easter was different this year since we couldn’t be with our kids and grand kids or have our traditional Family Hunt because of COVID – 19, but it was still a glorious day. “It was not about the bunny, it was about the LAMB.” After our Sunday Service on-line and Easter lunch, I made these decoupaged Easter Eggs using 2 different sets of napkins. “Let’s Go on an Easter Egg Hunt” by Meri Meri and Beatrix Potter’s dear little ducks, butterflies, pots, and pails alongside Peter Rabbit, and Jemima Puddle Duck look darling on these hard boiled eggs. It was a fun and sweet project on a reflective Easter afternoon.

This was just a forlorn and plain metal table that I covered with broken pieces of blue and white pottery. I love the look of the mossy enchantment and eclectic blend of the treasures I keep on this table. Shells gathered from the beaches of Texas, Florida, and Virginia … a collection of glass frogs that peep out of crevices … terra cotta planters with scrolls, frilly lines, and rusty iron rings … a bunny weather vane … and a little trough for thirsty birds inscribed with these words … “Life’s greatest treasures are life’s simplest pleasures.” A dear friend of our’s had a canvas of this picture made for me to hang in our greenhouse. ❤

Setting below the table a little Frog Prince can barely peep above the spring flush of Wandering Jew (Tradescantia Fluminensis). He clings to his crown trying carefully to balance the blue and white pottery ball that perches there.

Hope you enjoyed seeing spring around our cottage and you are ready to have fun, assembling your own charcuterie board!

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

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Creating Yummy Looking Party Tray’s …………………… by Trenda

Are you “insecure” about arranging party trays that look appetizing or do you cringe in apprehension when asked to bring a veggie tray to a Church potluck dinner … a neighborhood block party … or a weekend at your Mother-in-laws?  With these simple tips I am going to share, it’s easy to create a “pièce de résistance” and a yummy looking party tray!

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I love creating party “trays” of all sorts … trays filled with red and green slices of apples served with creamy, caramel dipping sauce … cookie trays stacked with cut-outs, pressed, rolled, and dropped cookies … sweet candy trays for Christmas … and appetizer trays filled with a mixture of fruits, vegetables, cheese, and crackers.   In the first party tray I’m showing you, I used a colorful Fitz & Floyd platter to “build” my arrangement on. I love using items on my trays that add novelty and color and I did this, on my first tray I’m showing you, by using a “bowl” carved from a purple cabbage, which holds my vegetable dip.  I peeled away the outer leaves of the cabbage until it was just the right size and wouldn’t “tower” over my platter.  You can see by the heap of leaves on my cutting board how much of the cabbage I peeled away.

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Then, using a sharp knife, I scored deep grooves into the center of my cabbage, forming a circle.  After making my “perforations” I switched to a table knife (you’ll need to use a knife with a duller blade so you won’t cut yourself, while carving!) to cut out the scored circle, making sure the “hole” was deep and wide enough to hold a substantial amount of dip.  Red, green, or yellow Bell Peppers also make charming dip holders, and hollowed out halves of melons make wonderful containers for my fruit trays.

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After placing the hollowed out cabbage in the center of my platter, I start placing my washed and cut vegetables and fruits around the platter, contrasting and coordinating the colors and placement of each.  Other tips which make my platter look more “attractive” … I tuck the stems of my broccoli where the florets face out … I place the woody stems of grapes underneath, so the grapes show, instead of the wood …  I peel cucumbers in strips and then cut the cucumber into attractive rounds.  For those vegetables that I have more of, like the tomatoes and broccoli, I divide the amount of each into 2 groups and place them on opposite sides of each other, on the platter.

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After the platter is filled, I added the dip for my vegetables to my cabbage “bowl” and tucked in these darling servers with handles covered in grape clusters and fruit.  Miniature silver tongs are just the right size for picking up “cherub” tomatoes.

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The second appetizer tray I am going to show you how to “build” today is arranged in a 13 x 9 casserole dish and placed in a wicker serving tray.  The sides of the casserole dish, make arranging this tray, EASY! (: The first thing I did was to place a sweet little bowl with etchings of berries on it, in my casserole dish.  This “anchors” my appetizer tray and makes a great place for the crackers I want to serve, on my tray. bowl.png

After filling the bowl with crackers (I used Wheat Thins) I took freshly washed “Looseleaf Lettuce” with it’s pretty, ruffled edges and tore off pieces to line the outer edges of the casserole dish.

looseleaf lettuce.png

Then I  begin adding the vegetables I wanted to serve on my tray.  Since I have a lot of celery sticks, I divided the celery into two different bunches and stacked them at an angle, on either side of the cracker bowl.  Carrots are placed in 2 opposite corners and grapes fill up the other two corners.

building .png

Then comes the fun part … piling cubes of cheese in the remaining spots; Colby Jack on one side, Pepper Jack on the other and filling in any remaining “vacancies” with cucumber rounds turned on their side, acting as partitions.  Where extra color is needed or “gaps” need filling, I “tuck in” more ruffly edged lettuce, between veggies.

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Looks good enough to eat, doesn’t it?! (:  And the woven basket with handles makes it easy to store in the refrigerator and transport to and from the table!  Hope these tips have helped and you’ll feel confident and enjoy creating your next party tray!  Before you know it, I’ll be making those autumn apple trays!

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Our last week in August and oh my, our hearts are heavy as we watch the catastrophic events in our dear Lone Star State, from Hurricane Harvey.  We love the charming seaside town of Rockport and I have been going there since I was “just a little girl” for summer vacations … and Richard and I have been going there since we married, for almost 40 years.  Seeing all the destruction of our beautiful, old, coastal towns, the flooding of Houston and the surrounding areas and the huge number of people suffering and loosing their homes is heartbreaking.  Houston, and it’s suburbs, is the 4th largest city in the United States with a population of over 6 million.   With astonishing realization … even if we were able to use every NFL football stadium in the United States for temporary shelter, there wouldn’t be enough room to “house” all the people that have been displaced by Hurricane Harvey!  I’m praying this scripture for all those affected and God’s watch care over them, as the rain continues and the flood waters rise … “Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.”  Psalms 31:9

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From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

 

final xoxo

 

Thank you for spending some time reading my blog today!  To have all my posts delivered directly to your email address, just click on FOLLOW in the post above … or click on my site: cottagegreenonthelake.com  

This week I will be joining Marie-Helene of Kingsbury Brook Farm