I have officially jumped on the grazing table and boards bandwagon! This trend of gluttony and gratuitous amounts of foods sprawled throughout entire tables that is meant for people to nibble on and “graze” through is all over my social media and has now found its way to my dinner table.
Now, this trend is certainly not new to me. Just check out my post from 2015 called Say Cheese…Platters. Charcuterie and cheese plates have always been my go-to appetizer of choice for entertaining. Small charcuterie and cheese platters have evolved from past years into whole tables, and they have gained tremendous popularity in recent years. It is like a gourmet buffet without the chafing dishes, and they are definitely Instagram worthy!
These tables are great for social gatherings because they really promote mingling and not just sitting at a table to eat. In this time of social distancing, it will probably be a long time before we go anywhere that will serve such a lavish meal. But who says you need to go anywhere in order to indulge on picture perfect food? It is rare that I would splurge on making anything this extravagant but in an effort to bring some holiday cheer into our house, I decided to go all out and I made a savory grazing board for dinner and a sweet holiday arrangement for dessert, just for my husband and I during the middle of the week!
I think these types of meals are fantastic for those lounging days where you don’t really feel like cooking and they don’t necessarily have to fill a whole table but a beautiful cutting board with all of the fixings makes staying in this holiday season feel a little less ho hum.
Can you believe this was my dinner last night? I always build my boards in odd numbers when I can and try and create height or visual flow with garnishes. I am fortunate that I keep a stocked pantry and had the mustard, fig preserves, apricot jam, olives, dried fruit and nuts all on hand. The big expense is always the meat and cheese. When creating a stellar grazing table try and remember you don’t have to go overboard with expensive items, you can always fill in space with bowls, condiments, dips, and garnishes.
There are some really creative ideas floating around the internet right now. An interesting grazing tablescape that I have seen and can’t wait to try is a breakfast or brunch theme. I would have a carb as the centerpiece: waffles, pancakes, biscuits, scones, or quick breads. Then complement with breakfast proteins favorites like bacon, sausage, smoked salmon or even frittata bites. To round out the table I would fill in with fresh fruit, vegetables, chocolate chips, and pecans. The most important part to complete a grazing table is all the accompaniments that tie everything all together. For this table, I would serve items like maple syrup, chantilly cream, Nutella, herbed cream cheese, homemade preserves, and whipped cinnamon honey butter.
If I was entertaining, I would take this theme even further and have a brunch cocktail bar nestled into this epic breakfast grazing table. This bar would act as its own little grazing table for custom DIY cocktails. I would have carafes of Bloody Mary’s with glasses rimmed with celery salt and garnishes like celery, cocktail onions, caprese skewers, olives, pepperonis, and pickles.
I would also have a section with all of the trimmings for mimosas with carafes of different juices and prosecco and it would include different fresh fruits and herbs for embellishments.
Just writing about this grazing table makes me wish it was Saturday morning tomorrow! Once I attempt to make this brunch theme, I will make sure to post it in our TCB private Facebook group.
I was really excited to make this dessert grazing table. I was feeling very festive and craving anything peppermint chocolate which is my favorite combo now that we are in December. Peppermint bark is one of the simplest things you can make from scratch that is truly impressive. I used storebought Jet Puff, but another fun recipe to try is making your own homemade marshmallows.
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield: quarter sheet tray
Prep time: 10 minutes
Inactive time: 1 hour, includes chilling time
1 bag of dark chocolate chips
1 bag of white chocolate chips
Candy canes, crushed
- Line a quarter sheet tray with parchment or wax paper.
- Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave until smooth and shiny.
- Pour the dark chocolate into the pan and let chill in the refrigerator.
- Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave until smooth and shiny.
- Once the dark chocolate is hardened, pour the white chocolate over the top and lightly spread it over the surface.
- Sprinkle the crushed candy canes all over the top and let chill for a minimum of 1 hour before breaking apart into smaller pieces.
Not only did I have a wide assortment of sweets to graze on, but this table was also complimented by hot cocoa and all the necessary accoutrements! TCB Hot Cocoa, which has a bit of spice from chilis, was the perfect drink option for my dessert pairing but the classic without the heat is just as good. I love having a 'build your own' cocktail bar and who says that can’t also apply to hot cocoa? Some really great options for kicking your cocoa up a notch are: coffee liquor, bourbon, peppermint schnapps, or even red wine. I decided to keep mine PG but went crazy for all the garnishes!
Sundae bars or grazing tables would also be a great treat for the kids. You could have different flavors of ice cream kept on bowls of ice to keep frozen. Different toppings could include nuts, chocolate chips, sprinkles, or marshmallows. Hot fudge or chocolate sauce, caramel and whipped cream in decorative bowls are also great additions to the table. Ice cream sundaes are not just for the kiddos, so for the adults you could add some booze or coffee to the ice cream for an adult affogato.
If you are inspired to make your own grazing table, let The Chopping Block help! Most of the condiments and garnishes I used are carried in the store and can be ordered at email@example.com and then picked up curbside from our Lincoln Square location. We are also now offering private shopping experiences where you can have the whole store safely to yourself to purchase all of your holiday needs. Whether it is alcohol for your DIY cocktail station, hot cocoa, or any of the American spoon brand preserves, we have got you covered.
If you would like me to take care of plating your meat and cheese trays, we do have catering available. I also make cheese and charcuterie plates every Thursday or in conjunction with any virtual wine class like this Saturday's virtual Italian Wine Tasting. Order that cheese and charcuterie plate to have something to snack on during your class!
All of our to-go food options are available for purchase through our class calendar.