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Christmas decorations good enough to eat!

A table groaning with a boring, beige buffet? That simply won’t do! Instead, why not delight your party guests (or even just friends and family) with a spread that’s as tantalising for the eyes as it is for the tastebuds?

Grazing tables and boards started as a wedding trend about three years ago and quickly became a social media hit — and now they have acquired a Christmassy twist.

So forget sad sausage rolls and limp cheese straws. Banish all thought of a cheese-and-pineapple hedgehog. This Christmas, your nibbles are nothing if they’re not fully festive.

From a Charcuter-Tree to a cracker of a cheese board, Laura Billington, the author of Inspired Grazing, has created a series of lavish, seasonal show-stopping grazing platters especially for Inspire. Read on to discover how to get the look — and the taste.

Berry Merry Wreath

Laura Billington reveals how to delight your guest with a spread that’s as tantalising for the eyes as it is for the tastebuds

  • 40g rosemary sprigs
  • 50g saucisson
  • 2 fresh figs
  • 3 slices of orange (fresh or dried)
  • 30g Double Gloucester
  • 65g cherries
  • 50g raspberries
  • 50g blackberries
  • 50g mixed coloured grapes
  • 90g olives
  • 75g pearl mozzarella
  • 125g redcurrants
  • 1 packet of sourdough crackers (or any crackers of your choice)
  • Sweet chutney of your choice

Take a paddle chopping board or another circular board, approximately 30cm in diameter.

Spread the rosemary sprigs evenly around the edges of the board, leaving the centre open, to create a ring.

Slice the saucisson into small sections and place them evenly on top of the rosemary.

Cut the figs in half and space the pieces equally around the ring on your board.

Cut the orange slices into semicircles and arrange them around your board.

Use a small star cutter to cut the Double Gloucester into stars. Alternatively, cut the cheese into small cubes about 2cm in diameter. Place the cheese stars on your wreath.

Arrange the cherries, raspberries and blackberries around your board, distributing the different colours evenly.

Halve the grapes vertically and add them to the garland, along with the olives.

Scatter the pearl mozzarella around your board, filling in any remaining gaps in the ring.

Lastly, arrange the redcurrants around your board in small bunches. Serve your Berry Merry Wreath with plenty of sourdough crackers and a sweet chutney of your choice.

Vegetarian Bauble

  • 100g brie
  • 100g Cheddar
  • 65g raspberries
  • 25g physalis (or cherry tomatoes)
  • 100g green seedless grapes
  • 20g frosty cranberries (see recipe in box, below right)
  • 20g walnuts
  • 30g red seedless grapes
  • 25g salted almonds
  • 10g kumquats (or cherry tomatoes)
  • A handful of fresh rosemary, frosted cranberries and edible gold leaf to garnish.

Take a round paddle board or pizza board and wrap the handle with ribbon. With the handle at the top, slice the Cheddar into diamond shapes and arrange them across the centre of the board.

Next, take the almonds and arrange them in a W shape below, following the line of the cheese.

Add the raspberries above the cheddar.

Half the grapes and add the green above the raspberries and the red below the almonds.

Slice the brie into triangles and place above the green grapes.

Fill in the top and bottom of your board with walnuts, kumquats, physalis and frosty cranberries, and garnish with rosemary and edible gold leaf.

Have fun creating your own designs too, using any of your favorite cheeses, vegetables, fruits, nuts and berries.

Vegan cracker

  • 2 x 135g Peter’s Yard Vegan Seeded Sourdough Flatbreads
  • 65g cucumber
  • 120g dried apricots
  • 200g any colourful vegan dip (I used roasted red pepper from M&S)
  • 100g vegan smoky Cheddar
  • 100g vegan Cheddar
  • 80g pomegranate
  • 20g dried cranberries
  • 100g frosty cranberries

Take a long platter board and add fanned out flatbreads at either end. Place the dip in the centre of the board in a ramekin.

Slice the two cheeses into triangles and cubes and arrange on the board. Next, fill in all the remaining gaps with the apricots, cranberries and cucumber.

Replace any fruits or vegetables with your favourites such as tomatoes, celery, carrot batons or grapes instead of cranberries.

Finally, add suitable ribbon to either end of the board, to give the whole thing the impression of being a Christmas cracker.

Charcuter-tree   

  • 280g salami
  • 75g small salami slices
  • 80g saucisson
  • 85g chorizo
  • 150g Cheddar
  • 200g Orsom Blue (or other cheese)
  • 50g figs
  • 150g mixed olives and caper berries

Rosemary, frosty cranberries to garnish (recipe, right)

Take a tray or any rectangular board, and line it with a sheet of baking parchment.

Pencil a triangle shape on the baking parchment and draw horizontal lines to make building the layers easier.

Starting at the bottom, add the salami by folding it in half and half again and making a chain right across the board.

Next, dice the blue cheese and create the next row on your board (making each row a little shorter as you climb).

Then slice the saucisson and add them to the board. Add the caper berries and then the olives and figs. Slice the Cheddar into triangles and arrange on your board.

Fold the chorizo and smaller salami slices and add Cheddar snowflakes to the top of your tree by pressing Cheddar cheese with a cookie cutter, or simply cut into star shapes with a knife. Garnish with the rosemary and frosty cranberries.

(To make frosty cranberries: Add 100g of granulated sugar to a large pan of heated water, so it dissolves. Stir cranberries into syrup and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and leave for a few hours. Remove cranberries with a slotted spoon. Roll the cranberries in 100g of granulated sugar until coated.)

As told to Claudia Connell


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