#plattersandboards #shellywesterhausen #chroniclebooks
You’re a total foodie, you love artful plating, and you’d love to entertain, but you just aren’t into cooking?! I used to turn my head at that “confused dog” angle when I’d hear people say they don’t cook. How do you eat? So many of my friends are foodies that don’t love cooking, though. I found the perfect book for you!!! Platters and Boards.
There is just so much to love about this book. Entertaining has never been so easy. For each platter, she has *one* recipe to make and the rest is artful, but not fussy, plating. It is the perfect answer for foodies who don’t want to cook. Or me when I just wanna chill on weekends. It reminds me of Donkey in Shrek talking about parfaits, “You know what everybody likes? Parfaits. Have you ever met a person, you say, “Let’s get some parfait,” they say, “Heck no, I don’t like no parfait”? Parfaits are delicious.” I think platters are the same way. Each one is visually appealing. People feel excited when they greet a generous platter. There are so many wonderfully creative platters in here. She’s an idea hamster.
This is my second Shelly Westerhausen book. I love Vegetarian Heartland. She’ll make you cook in that one, thp. She is on the foodie end of the vegetarian spectrum. In this book, she teams up with Wyatt Worcel, and he interjects meaty suggestions for the platters. Basically, everybody’s happy.
I had a hard time deciding which recipe to ask for. I grew up in Wisconsin, right by the Illinois border. Chicago was about an hour and a half away. Museums, the lake, festivals, and killer pizza, hot dogs, and Chicago-style popcorn. Have you ever had it? It’s a mixture of caramel corn and cheddar cheese corn, and it’s to die for. Her recipe for Chicago corn is spot on. My picture might look funny to you because I use organic white cheddar cheese powder. Not that I have any objection to the atomic orange stuff, but that’s what’s in my pantry. Anywho… I made the California Dreaming Board and we loved it as a lazy, hangout-with-each-other brunch. Everyone had requested it again within two days, so I had to pick that one.
Thanks to Chronicle for letting me share it with you! I’ll get back to the rest of my thoughts on the book after the recipe.
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California Dreaming Board
This platter will allow you to pretend you’re at a swanky California party. I was obsessed with the show The O.C. which in turn became an obsession with California and throwing fancy parties like the “Newpsies” on the show (insert 90210, Laguna Beach, and/or Baywatch joke here if that was more your thing).
STRATEGY: Look for artisanal Californian companies when buying your food for this board to keep with the theme. I was first introduced to Cypress Grove’s legendary Humboldt Fog cheese when traveling the West Coast and would recommend seeking it out for this board—I later found it in my tiny Indiana town, so I bet you can, too!
DRINK PAIRING: Serve with your favorite Californian dry white wine.
WYATT’S MEATY SUGGESTION: Serve with a batch of California cured lean bison jerky.
Miniature Cali Skewers (recipe follows)
6 oz [170 g] Humboldt Fog cheese or another iconic California cheese
6 oz [170 g] hard or crumbled cheese from California
1/4 cup [85 g] honey
8 oz [230 g] assorted brine-cured olives
11/2 cups [210 g] whole raw almonds
8 oz [230 g] crackers
8 slices multigrain bread, cut into 6 pieces each
1 cup [160 g] California-grown grapes
12 fresh figs
Add the skewers and their dressing to one side of the serving board. Put the Humboldt Fog cheese on a small serving dish and add to the board. Place the other cheese on the opposite side of board. Transfer the honey and olives to small dishes and place on the board with serving spoons. Fill in the remaining space with almonds, crackers, bread, grapes, and figs.
Miniature Cali Skewers
SERVES 12 AS A BOARD COMPONENT
1 cup [240 g] sour cream
1/4 cup [60 ml] buttermilk
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 slices multigrain bread, cut into 6 pieces each, toasted
12 cherry tomatoes
1 avocado, flesh cut into 12 cubes
1/2 cup [30 g] alfalfa sprouts
12 slices of Colby or Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 4 squares each
To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, butter¬milk, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. While whisking, slowly pour in the olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Transfer to a small serving bowl, cover, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
To make the skewers, thread a piece of bread onto a wooden skewer, followed by a cherry tomato, avocado cube, sprouts, a folded cheese slice, and another piece of bread. Repeat with the rest of the bread, tomatoes, avocado, sprouts, and cheese to make 12 skewers.
Serve alongside the buttermilk dressing with a small spoon so guests can scoop the dressing over their skewer before enjoying. Store leftover dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
The rest of my review of the book…..
Platters and Boards
By Shelly Westerhausen
My thoughts and pics of the platters we tried:
1) Breakfast in bed – p 54. This was supposed to be for two, but I scaled it up to four. You make miniature tomato, garlic, and goat cheese frittatas. I subbed in cojack for half of them for my goat cheese phobic kids. <I know!> The platter is finished with bagels, cream cheese, sliced tomatoes (she doesn’t mention salt – these need to be salted!), smoked salmon, and berries. Great brunch!
2) Southern-Style Board – p 158. You make pimiento dip, then add pepper jam over cream cheese, Southern cheeses, peach jam, whole grain mustard, pecans and peanuts, oranges and peaches, and crackers. I overrode Wyatt’s meaty suggestion of a country-cured ham and went with Texas smoked sausage instead. Super decadent.
3) California Dreaming Board – p 154. You make mini Cali skewers (veggie sandwiches), and add California cheeses, honey, olives, almonds, crackers, bread, grapes, and figs. This one is just so lovely and fresh!
4) Fondue Spread – p 183. She has you make a triple cheese truffle oil fondue, surrounded by a huge assortment of dippers: broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, bell peppers, snap peas, apples, grapes, pumpernickel, and French bread. Salami was Wyatt’s meaty add in. Killer fondue. And the truffle flavor is there, but not overdone.
5) Movie Night Board – p 103. She has you make Chicago-style caramel and cheddar popcorn. Then you add fruit, chocolate candy, mixed nuts, cheese, and chex mix. That is fantastic Chicago-style corn! I used her recipe for Smokey Sweet Mixed Nuts on p 201, and they’re lovely.
Some others I have flagged to try: Parfait Board – p 48 * Dog Days of Summer Board – p 73 * Winter Solstice Platter – p 78 * Teatime Spread – p 82 * Build Your Own Crostini Spread – p 90 * Date Night Spread – p 100 * Hot Chocolate Tray – p 117 * S’Mores Smorgasbord – p 126 * Mediterranean Platter – p 150 * Deviled Egg Platter – p 168 * Caprese Platter – p 174
*I received a copy to explore and share my thoughts.
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