The On Boards cookbook review is part of our ongoing series of (mostly) Canadian cookbook reviews!
Editor's Note: This article contains affiliate links — full disclosure is at the end of the article. Lisa Dawn Bolton is also a regular contributor to this site with her On Board in 20 Meal Ideas designed to help you get a family dinner on the table from scratch in 20 minutes, and her Food Styling 101 columns.
On Boards: Simple & Inspiring Recipe Ideas to Share at Every Gathering by Lisa Dawn Bolton isn't your typical cookbook. It lists 50 food board ideas and 52 recipes to guide you to create and present food boards for stress-free entertaining with minimum effort for every day, holidays and special occasions.
Unlike other cookbooks, On Boards doesn't focus on recipes, but rather on ideas for entertaining with food boards. It's divided into three parts and each part focuses on a different aspect of creating appealing food boards.
Basically, this section lists the equipment required such as:
- Different types of boards and how to care for them
- Serving tools: charcuteries, cheese, fruit and vegetables
- Other tools
- Small bowls and plates
- Himalayan salt block
This section guides you to select the amount of ingredients needed depending on the type of food board.
- The Opening Act (small appetizer board before a big meal)
- The Ensemble (heartier than a small appetizer)
- The Star (the meal)
Depending on the board you selected, this section guides you to calculate the amount per person for:
- Meat and cheese
- Fruits and vegetables
- Bread and crackers
The following are lists of different type of ingredients, how to prepare them and how to serve them.
- Charcuterie: types, slicing and serving
- Cheese: types, slicing and serving
- Fruits and vegetables: slicing and serving
- Bread and crackers: different types of bread and crackers
- Accompaniments: dips, spreads and mustard
- Sweet tastes: creamy cheeses, sweet preserves, dried fruits
- Nuts: assortment of nuts such as pecans, walnuts, pistachios and almonds
- Special diets: vegan and gluten-free
The Big Picture: Once you know what type of board you want to create (why are people coming over; is it a special celebration?) and the location, then you can gather the ingredients you need and style your board.
This section lists tips and techniques on how to style your board.
Putting it together: Step by Step
This is the fun part where you put together your food board by following step by step photos along with instructions.
Each page of The Boards features:
- Number of servings
- Beverage suggestion
- List of ingredients
- Preparation and tips
- Meal pairings
- A beautiful, colour photo that invokes pangs of hunger
Sample boards include:
- Everyday Boards (Trio of Hummus, Winter Fondue, Vegan Vibes, No Grown-Up Allowed)
- Holiday and Special Occasion (Christmas Dinner on Board, Happy New Year!, Valentine’s Night In)
- Around the World Boards (Oh Canada, Red, White and Blue, Mediterranean Mezze, Sushi and Sake)
These are the recipes that accompany the different boards. They're well written and easy to follow. Some include notes on serving suggestions and ingredient descriptions.
Recipes are included for:
- Dips and sauces (Buffalo Chicken Dip, Pico de Gallo, Pea Pesto)
- Relishes and jams (Cranberry Mustard, Tomato Bacon Jam, Bourbon Pumpkin Butter)
- Savoury additions (Sweet and Smoky Devilled Eggs, Whipped Feta, Cashew Ricotta Cheese)
- Sweet extras (Chocolate Salami, Sweet Cream Dip, Golden Bacon Popcorn)
A Birthday Board Celebration
This year my youngest daughter asked that I make French Onion Soup for her birthday dinner. So, I decided to serve an Ensemble Board as an appetizer using the Crostini for a Crowd (Page 470) as a guide. I used my family’s favourite fruits and vegetables, prosciutto, salami, olives, nuts and baguettes, and added radishes, fresh dill, parsley and mint.
It took me a while to style this board as my styling techniques are lacking, but it looked appealing once I was done. My family was impressed as we sat down to dinner, making the board the topic of conversation. I realized that this informal way of entertaining makes people more relaxed and it takes less effort than making a meal.
The next board I plan to make is the Chocolate Charcuterie Dessert Board (Page 65) featuring the Chocolate Salami (Page 173). Cheese, chocolate and fruit make a decadent dessert.
- 1½ cups finely chopped dark chocolate (at least 60%)
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 2 Tbsp dark rum
- 2 cups mixed nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
- 10 cups roughly crushed ladyfinger cookies, about 12
- 1 cup icing sugar
- Add 2˝ of water to a medium-size pot and bring to an active simmer over high heat. Place a heat-safe bowl on top of the pot, ensuring the bowl does not touch the water, and turn down the heat to medium. Add the chocolate and butter. Stir gently until melted.
- In a separate medium-size bowl, mix together the sugar, egg, egg yolk, vanilla and rum. Add to the melted chocolate and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and shiny, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Add the nuts and crushed cookies and gently fold in with a spatula until well combined.
- Divide the mixture onto 2 pieces of parchment paper. Roll into a log shape of your desired circumference and length (3˝ × 10˝ works well). Twist the ends of the parchment tightly and place in the fridge overnight or in the freezer for 4 hours.
- Pour the icing sugar into a shallow bowl large enough to hold 1 log. Unwrap the chocolate logs and gently roll them one by one in the icing sugar. At this point, the logs can be served or tied with kitchen twine to resemble a dried salami.
- Keep the logs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days or in the freezer for 3 months.
On Boards is a well-written cookbook. There are descriptions of the equipment required, list of ingredients, techniques on how to calculate serving per person, step-by-step guides on how to make a food board, guides to make 50 beautiful food boards, and accompanying recipes. The colour photos are magnificent.
It’s a cookbook that taps your imagination to create beautiful food boards for entertaining.
On Boards: Simple & Inspiring Recipe Ideas to Share at Every Gathering
Author: Lisa Dawn Bolton
Hardcover: 184 Pages
Publisher: Appetite by Random House
Cover, images and recipe from On Boards: Simple & Inspiring Recipe Ideas to Share At Every Gathering by Lisa Dawn Bolton and reprinted by permission of Appetite by Random House.
A review copy of the On Boards cookbook was provided to us by Appetite by Random House.
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The On Boards cookbookreview was written by Liliana Tommasini, author of the aptly named blog My Cookbook Addiction. Her passion for baking and cooking began at an early age. Liliana grew up in an Italian household where each meal was made from scratch with fresh ingredients and Sunday family lunches were always a celebration. She has a passion for collecting cookbooks and believes that every recipe tells a story that must be shared to nourish your soul and feed your belly. You can connect with Liliana on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.