These recipes originally appeared in the November 2020 issue of HomeLife Magazine.
Serve these recipes on a board to stave off hunger and stay on task.
With Thanksgiving around the corner and family and friends joining us from near and far, my first thought is how blessed we are to have dear ones joining us at home this year. It’s no secret that I find gathering around the table my happy place. That’s why you might be surprised to learn I harbor a pesky pet peeve when it’s my turn in the kitchen.
Fifteen minutes prior to serving dinner is what I deem “crunch time”— the last-minute rush to get all the hot food into serving dishes and to the table. Not surprising is that this seems to be the time when all our sweet folks like to gather in the middle of the kitchen. It makes maneuvering cumbersome, like bumper cars in a cage. So, I’ve learned to change their trajectory through culinary diversion. At T-minus 30 minutes, I strategically place a charcuterie tray outside the confines of my workspace.
Charcuterie simply means cured meat, but these days anything goes
on a charcuterie board. I keep it simple with mostly store-bought items,
but occasionally I like to throw in a few homemade treats to give it a little
je ne sais quoi quality.
However, a Thanksgiving menu of turkey and stuffing offers a bit of a quandary when it comes to what pairs well on a board, so I came up with a few recipes that fit the bill.
Offering a charcuterie tray prior to serving the meal has several other advantages as well. It naturally gathers everyone around the table to graze a bit before you call them to dinner, which tends to keep the party (and conversation) lively and festive. Make sure you offer flavors not fillers, staving off hunger and leaving palates yearning for more.
So, what should you put on your board before your feast? Mix in savory and sweet items that complement the main course. Add interest with textures, such as crunchy herb crackers and creamy goat cheese, with a drizzle of honey. We eat with our eyes so make your board pleasing with pops of bright color using fruit, such as apples or pears. Create great design by compartmentalizing different ingredients. Smoked ham rolled with sliced Havarti cheese brings order to the platter, while containers for spreads, preserves, or relishes add dimension and height. Bring on the drama with a cluster of grapes and rustic bread, allowing some areas to naturally mound and sprawl. Finally, top it off with a seasonal sprig of fresh rosemary, thyme, or sage as an aromatic garnish.
Whether you’re the cook, or helping the cook, this year assemble a charcuterie board, and divert the crew to another happy place.
Harvest Baked Brie with Fig Jam | Makes 6-8 servings
1 sheet puff pastry
2 Tbsp. flour for dusting work surface
8 oz. brie wheel
2 Tbsp. fig jam
3 Tbsp. chopped pecans
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, plus thyme sprig for garnish
1 beaten egg, plus 1 tsp. water (egg wash)
various types of apples, sliced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a clean surface, dust flour and roll out puff pastry with a rolling pin to close seams and thin it out a little. Cut top off the brie wheel and place in center of the dough. Place fig jam on the top of the brie. On top of the jam, add the pecans and the one teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme. Fold up pastry dough, pinching edges to close. Brush with the egg wash. Transfer to cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 35 minutes or until pastry is a deep golden brown. Transfer to a serving board and garnish with more thyme. Serve with sliced apples.
Rosemary and Sea Salt Crackers with Goat Cheese and Honey | Makes 6-8 servings
2 c. flour (plus a little extra for working)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. warm water
Preheat oven to 425 degree. In a mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, water, and olive oil. Use an electric mixer, with paddle attachment, on medium speed to combine until dough ball forms. Use a knife to divide dough in half. Form it into a ball and drop half onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Rub flour on your rolling pin, then roll the dough ball out until very thin (1/8-inch thickness). Be sure to keep dough at the same height on edges or they will bake faster and burn. Spray oil on dough and sprinkle minced rosemary and sea salt over the top. Using a pizza cutter, slice into desired shape and size (small squares or large triangles). Edges can run wild giving a creative, rustic look. Place cookie sheet in oven and bake for 12-14 minutes. Watch closely toward the end and pull out when they have reached a golden color. Allow to cool and store in a sealed container for up to two weeks. Repeat with second dough ball. Serve with goat cheese (room temperature) with a drizzle of honey on top.
Cranberry-Lime Salsa | Makes 6-8 servings
1 bag of whole cranberries
3 green onions (sliced)
1 bunch cilantro (chopped)
2 jalapeño peppers (seeds removed, diced)
1 apple (peeled and diced)
1 lime (juiced with zest)
1/2 c. apple juice
1/4 c. sugar
Using a food processor, roughly chop cranberries. Add them to a medium bowl with the prepared green onions, cilantro, jalapeños, and apple. Stir in lime juice with zest, apple juice and sugar, mixing well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes prior to serving. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 14 days. Serve with tortilla chips.