So this is important. This is what takes you from house guest to hero.
When we started discussing the various appetizers trays we’ve made and how we would write about them, we thought our heads were going to explode. It felt like a cross between a performance appraisal at work and shopping on Black Friday. Basically, we have a lot to say about apps and we might as well dive right in with the ultimate party tray.
This thing… . is just…. awesome. We are going to call it “The Surge”. Roxana thought she was going to be an engineer for five minutes in college- The Surge refers to the rate of change of acceleration in physics. Sound boring? So did she-which is why her life primarily revolves around food now. However, the term applies to this tray like whoa because it just keeps getting better, more intense, and…well just keep reading.
If you buy everything at Trader Joe’s you can pretty much lock this down for under $50 and feed the entire Bucknell campus. The tray is open to interpretation so the price could vary.
Start with a circular tray- it can be cheap since you are going to cover it with greens (in a pinch we’ve used one of those pizza trays with the holes in them).
Cover the base of the tray with leafy greens. I usually buy a mix of colors (green and purple). Just pull off the big leaves and make a base. We are going to start from the outside and work our way in.
First: Pick three cheeses. Ideally- you want a cow, goat and sheep’s milk cheese. Let’s be real though your friends won’t have a clue (unless you are our friends- we will call you out for doubling up on the goat even though it is delicious). We usually pick brie, goat cheese and parmigiano reggiano (or pecorino to save monies). Get a goat cheese with herbs on it to switch up the color on the board. Parmigiano reggiano is the undisputed king of cheese and you need to get one that is aged to infinity (in life- age only matters when it comes to cheese). This will also help differentiate the color on the board. I like to cut out three pieces of parchment paper to place the three cheeses on. Place on the board at 12, 4 and 8 o clock.
Next: Meat. Okay so this is not our favorite part but when you’re entertaining I suppose sacrifices have to be made (we are so altruistic). So pick two meats. We often do a bacon and a prosciutto. You could also do nice big pieces of a Cajun turkey, thinly sliced pastrami, etc. If you throw some weird processed meat on there we will find you, document the blended turkey- like product you thought was okay to tarnish The Surge with and blog about what you’ve done. Place one of the meats to the right of your 12 o’clock cheese. Place the other meat to the right of your 8 o’clock cheese. K that’s over.
Onto fruit: Again this is just about getting some color contrast going. Slice some green apple or pear and some red/pink apple (do NOT buy red delicious apples EVER unless you want to eat flavorless sand disguised as an apple). Core and slice and rub immediately with lemon juice to prevent browning. Place all the green apples next to the one o’clock meat (just look at the picture above; I don’t know why I have to spell this out for you) and the red/pink apple to the left of the 12 o’clock cheese. Now buy some medium sized oranges. Remove the rind and cut off the pith (aka white on the outside of the orange). Cut into slices and arrange to the right of the 4 o’clock cheese. Place some dried apricots to the right of the pink/red apples. In regards to the apricots- this is one situation where we are going to let a little janky moment slide. Usually we only eat sulfate free/Turkish apricots that are better for you, higher quality and taste amazing. However- sans sulfate apricots are brown and for this board we want the orange so go ahead and get whatever dried apricots Target has and use it for The Surge.
The center: Congratulations, you are almost done. Just off center you should still have some space around 7 o’clock. Get some amaze crackers for this spot. We suggest the raisin/rosemary ones from trader joes (or those raincoast crips ones from Whole Foods are insanely good). Lastly, pile pomegranate seeds in the center and sprinkle a few throughout the board. To get the seeds out of a pomegranate cut the fruit in half and tap the back of each half with a wooden spoon. Does this sound annoying to you? Fine… buy the seeds all ready to go from trader joes… I don’t want you to end up resenting a fruit so awesome it gets referenced in the Bible. If you really want to annoy us however- you could use dried cranberries or cherries instead- they just won’t look as shiny and chic as the seeds.
Okay I know that was long and may have felt like homework but believe me it is worth it. The Surge has changed lives across IL, MO, OH, MD, DC and wherever the hell else we have lived in the last 5 years. Now it’s your turn- enjoy.