There’s something particularly appealing to me about entertaining when it’s cold out—greeting guests shaking off snowflake-dusted hats and sipping a big, bold glass of cabernet while enjoying the aroma of hearty goodness simmering on the stove. This is a starter board that kicks off an evening with a hearty meal to follow. The goat cheese is dressed up with a sweater of crushed nuts and dried cherries. The Wensleydale cheese is infused with cranberries to mark either the start of the holidays or their conclusion.
- 2 cups assorted nuts with dried cherries
- 5 ounces honey chèvre
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 8 spiced Sicilian green olives, pitted
- 8 Castelvetrano olives
- 8 assorted red olives
- 5 ounces Wensleydale cranberry cheese
- 12 slices herbed salami
- 12 slices Schinkenspeck
- 4 caper berries
- 4 dried apricots
- 16 breadsticks
Prepare a coating for the chèvre: Scoop 1/4 cup of the nuts and dried cherries into a small resealable plastic bag. Using a heavy-bottomed glass, crush them and pour them onto a shallow plate. Roll the honey chèvre into the crushed nuts, gently pressing the nuts so they stick to the cheese.
Last minute: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the remaining nuts and the rosemary sprig on a baking sheet and warm in the oven for about 10 minutes. Serve warm in a bowl on the board. Serve the other components in the style that works best for you, then arrange everything on and around your board.
Tips: The hero on this board is really the olive and cheese combination. It can easily be scaled up with the addition of more olive and cheese varietals (it can also be scaled down). To set a winter scene, wrap a clean white flour-sack towel or piece of cheesecloth under your board and scatter evergreen branches from the yard or snow-capped pinecones from a craft store around it.
To Drink: The beauty of an olive and cheese board is that most red wines will pair well with it. If you’re considering a cocktail to start the evening, a gin-based one will pair best with the olives.
Excerpted from “On Boards: Simple & Inspiring Recipe Ideas to Share at Every Gathering” by Lisa Dawn Bolton. Copyright © 2018 by Lisa Dawn Bolton. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.