The New Family-Style: A Holiday Entertaining Guide for Charlotteans
Large gatherings are off the table this year, again. But cheer up: Here’s a guide to help you redesign and resize your holiday menu
It’s another Covid Thanksgiving, so there’ll be no double-dipping or shared platters this season. But that doesn’t mean you can’t serve your favorite holiday dishes. We’ve enlisted the help of Lindsay Anvik, co-owner of Babe & Butcher (301 Camp Road, Ste. 102, 980-216-4723), who specializes in grazing tables and charcuterie boards heaped with individually wrapped nibbles. She’s showing us how to serve mini versions of old favorites in cones and cups and on skewers so you can safely celebrate and feast. Find additional tips from her throughout, as well as holiday wine pairings and the best take-and-bake meals in Charlotte.
CM: What are some nontraditional holiday color combinations I can use for my centerpiece?
LA: I love a peacock blue or any kind of jewel tone. You can take that peacock blue and mix it with neutrals, oranges, or yellows and still have it feel like holiday without it being overt. Metallics are another great way to have fun with your table. Think mercury glass candleholders with deep royal purple and green as a centerpiece, or peacock blue vases and serving trays with terra cotta fixtures.
CM: What decorations and garnishes can I add to my grazing table to make it look festive?
LA: Nature never goes out of style, so bring in fresh fruits, branches, pumpkins, and greenery to marry with your serving trays and candles. You can add moss to a centerpiece like a dough bowl or keep it loose along your table like a runner.
CM: What are the best seasonal fruits and vegetables to use right now?
LA: I love pears, tart apples, cranberries, and figs. Fig season only comes a few times a year, so when it is here, I jump on it.
CM: Which items can I make in advance for my charcuterie board? What foods should I set out when guests arrive?
LA: You can make (or buy!) hummus or any kind of dip, jam, or honey. It’s best to cut the cheese, wash the fruit and vegetables, and slice the meat. Put those items in the fridge, and when your guests are close to arriving, you can take everything out and arrange it quickly.
CM: What’s the best way to display the cones?
LA: The quickest and easiest way is on a tray. There are fixtures made for cones, but for one-time use, arrange them on a beautiful platter, and you’ll be all set.
CM: What do you serve with the citrus berry salsa?
LA: I love serving any kind of salsa, dip, or hummus with fresh bread. It smells delicious, it looks heartier, and it’s often a beautiful addition to a table. You can serve it as-is and slice it for people to enjoy, or pop it in the oven with some olive oil, salt, and pepper for a crispier option.
CM: Besides cocktail napkins, are there any other accoutrements I need to set out on my grazing table?
LA: Think about decorating the table like you would a room. It’s important to commit to a color scheme. Add a splash of color to the table with your napkins or serving spoons to add vibrancy to the table. Break out the fun serving utensils. You don’t always have to use the traditional or super fancy serving utensils.
5- and 10-minute appetizers
The Sweet Spot
COOL KID CROCKPOT HOT COCOA
8 oz. of dark chocolate chips
1/2 c. of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. granulated sugar
6 c. of whole or 2% milk (use skim milk for a lighter option)
2 c. of heavy cream
1. Add chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and sugar into slow cooker.
2. Then add the wet ingredients (milk, heavy cream, and vanilla) and whisk until everything is combined and smooth.
3. Cover and cook on low for 2-3 hours. Make sure you whisk it once in a while to prevent the bottom from burning.
Lindsay’s Tip: Once you’ve served the kids’ cocoa, add 1/2 c. to 1 c. of Kahlua or Peppermint Schnapps to the remainder of the batch.
1 batch of brownies (make ahead or buy at the store if you’re pressed for time)
1 bag of large marshmallows
1 container of fresh strawberries (feel free to add a different fruit or berry)
Bamboo skewers (at many grocery stores)
1. Add strawberries, brownies, and marshmallow(s) to the skewers.
2. Follow the same pattern or mix it up.
3. Toast with a small kitchen torch or in a fire. Drizzle chocolate syrup or caramel to add extra sweetness.
For a larger group, create a Mediterranean grazing station with individual cones or cups to minimize hand-to-food contact and the need for serving utensils
CHARCUTERIE CONES AND MEDITERRANEAN BOARDS
Your favorite meats, cheeses, fruits, and brined goodies
Bamboo cones (make your own with craft paper and double-sided tape, or use cups if pressed for time)
1. Add cheese, fruit, or brined goods to the bottom of the cone to fill it up. Stuff in meat, fruit, and other items so there’s a variety of flavors and colors. Serve in a tray and enjoy.
Cheese: manchego, Gouda, feta
Green and black olives
Peppers and tomatoes
Jamon or any other kind of salty meat
Add hummus, or get an olive stuffer and add blue cheese or garlic to your olives.
EDITOR’S TIP Short on time? Pick up pre-made grazing boards at local businesses like Babe & Butcher or Orrman’s Cheese Shop.
PEAR-Y GOUDA CROSTINI
1 large fresh baguette
1-2 pears cut into thin slices or small wedges
1/2 lb. of smoked gouda cheese sliced thin or in small wedges
Garnish: Honey or rosemary
1. Slice baguette on the bias to give a larger surface area for the pear and gouda.
2. Add pear slices first, then top with gouda.
3. Place in oven to broil until cheese is melted.
4. Add honey and/or rosemary to garnish. For an extra kick, add hot honey to give a perfect mix of heat, sweet and salt.
Don’t feel married to using pears. You can use any kind of tart apple, like a Gala or Granny Smith.
FALL CITRUS BERRY SALSA
12 oz. of fresh cranberries
1 tbsp. lime zest
1/2 c. of green onions (dice small, almost minced, so the onions don’t overpower other flavors)
1 tbsp. orange zest
Juice of 2 limes
1/3 c. of honey (or 2 tbsp. of sugar)
Add salt to taste
Optional additions: 2 jalapeños (seeded and minced) and 1/2 c. of cilantro
1. Add all items to a food processor and pulse until you get a chunky salsa consistency. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
Lindsay’s Tip: Pour the salsa over cream cheese for a more savory option. For more tartness, add extra lime. For a sweeter salsa, use more juice and orange zest.