Recipes by Emily Demler | Photos by Jonna Dodge

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ummer in style with a poolside charcuterie board and refreshing Aperol Spritz. Our valley heat gives the perfect excuse to relax on the water and enjoy the afternoon. Take a dive into the basics of creating your own board with Emily Demler of the Charcuterie Cuisine.

Lifestyle: What goes through your mind in the process of shopping for a charcuterie board?

Emily: I have a lot of fun shopping for boards, picking items I would want to eat while incorporating new foods and ways to be creative. I constantly remind myself that even if a board is “too pretty to eat,” people will still eat it. When shopping, I pull from these key categories: cured meats, cheeses, bread, crackers, fruits, veggies, nuts and jams. Mixing items from each category lends to a wholesome eating experience. I also love using fresh seasonal produce. Eating with the seasons will transform your boards, adding a fresh twist throughout the months. 

Lifestyle: How do you select the elements of your board?

Emily: To please various palettes, I incorporate an array of cheeses, meats, fruits and veggies. For cheese, I always use a mix of hard, soft and crumbly. A hard or aged cheese like Parmesan or Manchego is always a crowd favorite. Softer, more mild cheeses to consider are cheddar, gouda or brie. And blue cheese is a great crumbly cheese option. Color is the next consideration when shopping. This is where fruits and vegetables shine, pulling in color and adding variety.

Lifestyle: Do you have a favorite place to shop?

Emily: Honestly, you can get great charcuterie items at any grocery store. Trader Joe’s is my pick because it has a wider variety of crackers, seasonal fruits and dried goods. Needless to say, you can still find delicious options at Save Mart and Smart & Final as well. The best way to explore is through trial and error.

Lifestyle: What’s your favorite combination?

Emily: My favorite is brie cheese drizzled with honey or blackberry jam on a baguette slice with a dried apricot on top. But you also can’t go wrong with a classic caprese salad mash-up with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and a touch of balsamic on a slice of bread. If you ever get the chance to watch me make a board, you’ll see I love to sample the products to make sure they taste great.

Lifestyle: What is the best way to display your board? Are there any particular arrangements you like best?

Emily: Most of us were taught not to play with our food. But I do just the opposite! Whenever I put together a board, the finished product looks completely different than how it started. 

Playing with food is what I love to do. 

I’ve found the best way to start a board is by establishing focal points with the cheese and meats first. Salami roses or rivers draw in the eye and keep things interesting — both are simple to create! I tend to set those items out first, then see what fruits and veggies can fill the empty space. While I am designing the board, color is a constant consideration. I like to have an even distribution of color and uniformity. Of course, this is up for debate in your own creations — let your personal expression shine here. I add in pops of color with oranges or bright fruits like strawberries and blueberries. To top it off, I love to incorporate greenery and herbs. Rosemary, sage and basil are some of my favorites. Not only do they add a strong fragrance, the green color makes a board look complete. 

Lifestyle: How can people see more of your work?

Emily: Photos of my work are posted on Instagram 

@The_Charcuterie_Cuisine, everything from large grazing tables to individual charcuterie boxes. 

Stay tuned for more great eats to come!


Poolside Charcuterie Board


Ingredients

  • Cured meats (i.e., salami, prosciutto, calabrese, sopressata …)
  • Brie cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Aged gouda
  • Mild cheddar cheese
  • Manchego
  • Seasonal fruit (i.e., peaches and nectarines …)
  • Fresh veggies (i.e., cherry tomatoes, mini bell peppers, cucumbers …)
  • Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries
  • Red or green grapes
  • Crackers/sliced baguette
  • Honey or jam
  • Assortment of nuts and dried fruits (i.e., almonds, pistachios, dried figs, cranberries, apricots …)
  • Citrus, kiwi, fresh herbs for garnish

Directions

Grab a large platter or wooden cutting board; anything you can find will work great. 

Next, place and arrange your cut cheeses and/or small bowls (if using). 

Then arrange your meats in a “river-like format,” or however you would like to present them. Wash and cut your fruits and vegetables, and place them around your board. 

Add your crackers/baguettes and garnish with nuts, dried fruits and herbs. 

Now it’s time to dig in!


Summer Aperol Spritz


Ingredients

  • Ice
  • 1 part Aperol
  • 2 parts Prosecco (your favorite kind will do)
  • A splash of Topo Chico (or unflavored 
  • sparkling water)
  • Slice of citrus

Directions

Fill your glass with ice, until nearly full. 

Pour the Aperol first, then add your choice of Prosecco. 

Finish it off with a splash of Topo Chico and garnish with a slice of fresh citrus.