Our Guide to a Festive Charcuterie Board

Alexian: Our Guide to a Festive Charcuterie Board

The holidays may be a little different this year, with fewer of our family and friends around the table, but you can still keep the holiday spirit alive with a show stopping dish. Two words: Charcuterie. Board.

We know, we know. You’re probably asking yourself: But how exactly do I transform a regular ‘ol charcuterie board into a magically festive meal for the holidays? Don’t fret: We’re here to help!

Here, we lay out everything you need to know about creating a holly jolly (not to mention, delicious!) charcuterie board for the holiday season.

The Cheeses

We suggest keeping it simple and using only three or four of your favorite cheeses. For a holiday charcuterie board, we always opt for a creamy Brie, a sharp cheddar, and a logof goat cheese. Not only are these cheeses well-loved by everyone, they’re also affordable and provide a nice variety..

The Meat

You didn’t think we’d go a whole blog post without mentioning pâté did you? When it comes to our holiday charcuterie boards, our top picks are our Grand Marnier, Chicken & Veal, and Herb de Provence. Also consider adding a smooth, spreadable option like our Truffle Mousse or Duck Liver Mousse with Cognac. Decadent and fulfilling, these pâtés can be perfectly paired with a multitude of cheeses and crackers, and are also always holiday favorites.

Hosting a vegan or vegetarian affair? Don’t panic: There’s pâté for that as well!

The Theme

Preparing a charcuterie board is like decorating: You can put a beautiful platter together with a mix of colors, textures, and shapes– just like you would a home. That’s why when it comes to a holiday charcuterie board, we suggest sticking to a theme; one that includes reds, greens, and whites.

Pears, grapes, and pomegranates are winter fruits that match the Christmas theme, while cranberries also add a dash of holiday spirit. Nuts and olives are a great festive choice as well, as well as some fresh rosemary. Oh, and don’t forget the crackers!

Overall, it’s essential to remember to place the large items like cheese and meats first. Then, fill in with nuts, fruit, and so on.

Happy holidays!

Our Guide to a Perfect Charcuterie and Cheese Pairing

Like cheese, pâté can stand alone, but uniting the two can lead to a match made in foodie heaven. 

Accordingly, we at Alexian have decided our early Holiday gift to you is drumroll, please none other than to unveil our secrets to the perfect charcuterie (read: pâté) and cheese board. Excited? You should be!

Below, we highlight our guide to a perfect charcuterie and cheese pairing.

As the name suggests, hard cheese is firm and goes perfectly well with our creamy and decadent mousse pâtés. Often savory, hard cheese can be divided into two categories: hard (such as Parmesan), and semi-hard (such as Gouda). We suggest pairing the former with Black Peppercorn, and the latter with Chicken Liver.

Conversely, when it comes to coarse cut pâtés, we suggest opting for soft cheeses. Brie is a spreadable cheese with a buttery flavor and a strong aroma, while Burrata is part of the Mozzarella family and is typically served fresh with salads, fresh tomatoes and herbs, or bread. Both are excellently paired with our coarse cut variety. 

A third place winner in our books when it comes to pairing cheese with a coarse cut? None other than Camembert. First made in France, this soft cheese made from cow’s milk is similar to Brie, but softer and more buttery, with an earthy flavor. Pro tip: It’s also best paired with red wine.

Overall, we recommend pairing boldly flavored pâtés— such as Pheasant Rosemary or Duck Liver Mousse with Cognac — with milder cheeses. And when it comes to softer-flavored pâtés, like Chicken Liver or our Vegetable varieties, we suggest opting for a strong flavored cheese of your choosing.

Here’s to happy snacking!

Easy Appetizers with 5 Ingredients or Less

The season of entertaining is upon us once again, but it seems like just last week we were stuffing our turkeys and decking the halls! If you’re anything like us, your Novembers and Decembers are packed with friends, family, and food. Here in the Alexian Kitchen, we’re always trying to create new recipes that not only please our guests, but that is easy enough to leave us time to enjoy them.

We’ve gathered some of our very favorite 5-ingredient recipes to help you host the holidays without the hassle.

Baked Fontina

You can never go wrong with a big, melty skillet full of cheese. Especially when you add in Alexian pâté.

Layer cubed fontina cheese and Alexian Black Peppercorn Mousse in a cast iron skillet or baking dish, top with sliced garlic, thyme leaves and olive oil. Broil until it’s melted and bubbly enough to scoop up. Serve with toasty, flaky bread.

Truffle Balls

We’re not sure what the best part of this recipe is – the truffle, the mousse, the poppable, bite-size shape, or the fact that you don’t have to turn on your oven to make them. For years, our Truffle Mousse Balls have inspired rave reviews, yet this three-ingredient recipe takes only minutes to make.

Simply roll teaspoon-sized balls of our Truffle Mousse into a mixture of Panko breadcrumbs and thyme, then set them in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them. Make these in a large batch. The decadence of the truffle makes each bite practically melt in your mouth, keeping you coming back to the plate again and again.

Mini Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese on Thanksgiving? Absolutely. Elevate your typical grilled cheese by substituting in decadent ingredients. Simply make 4-5 full-size sandwiches, slice into quarters and arrange on a plate. Here are a few mouth-watering suggestions.

Brioche + Swiss cheese + Goose Liver Mousse + caramelized onions

French bread + Duck Rillette + brie + plum jam

Potato bread + Black Peppercorn Mousse + over easy egg

Puff Pastry Bites

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as biting into a warm, melt-in-your-mouth roll full of savory goodness. Gently wrap thin slices of any of our pâtés (though a couple of our favorites for this recipe are the Chicken & Veal and Forest Mushroom pâtés) in puff pastry and cook until light golden brown.

You can also use crescent roll dough in place of puff pastry to save a little time. Feel free to experiment with your own add-ins – like your favorite smoked cheese – just don’t overload them!

Serve with a dijon or whole grain mustard dipping sauce, or on their own!

Deviled Eggs with Pâté

A simple yet decadent delight, deviled eggs are even better when Black Peppercorn Mousse is mixed in! These hearty snacks are handheld, making them ideal for casual holiday parties.

Party of One: How to Solo Snack on Pâté

To quote Three Dog Night: One is the loneliest numberbut not with a delicious and savory snack in front of you. 

Pâté isn’t just a snack or side, it’s an entire vibe. Not to mention, when experiencing a little bit of solitude, you’ve earned the right to enjoy yourself and indulge.

Ultimately, when snacking on pâté by yourself, there are only a few things you should know to get the most out of your experience. Luckily for you, we’ve gathered them here for your reading pleasure.

Above all, remember this: the best part about solo snacking on pâté is that you don’t have to share!

Creating a Pâté Board In 5 Easy Steps

Pâté is a traditionally decadent food, ideal for the season’s celebrations of food and family. A well-crafted pâté board will please even the pickiest of eaters by allowing your guests to customize their selection. Best of all, it’s easy to set up.

Here’s how to make a crowd-pleasing pâté board just five easy steps:

1. Choose Your Pâtés

Your pâtés will be the star of your board, and everything else should work in harmony to enhance the rich flavors.

We suggest offering a selection of pâtés that showcase a variety of flavor profiles and textures.

For instance, a country-style pâté has a coarse texture, with herb-infused, gamey flavors that can be cut into cubes and served with toothpicks. Our Chicken and Veal Pâté is encrusted with mustard seeds and pairs nicely with mustards, dried fruits, and nuts. Our Campagne Pâté is our most versatile country-style pâté and pairs with almost anything, including mustards, pickles, and chutneys.

Our Duck Rillette, however, has a more shredded texture, and a special seasoning blend that pairs well with smoked cheeses, or as an indulgent, standalone bite.

Our mousses offer a lighter, creamier consistency that is easy to spread, and perfect for pairing with condiments, fresh fruits and vegetables, and cheeses. The Spiced Apple Mousse is a seasonal favorite, with hints of apple brandy and apple pie spices.

And if your family has vegetarian, vegan or diet-conscious diners, our tempting vegetable and vegan terrines are a great way to round out the selection. Even your most carnivorous guests will appreciate the refreshing vegetable medleys that come to play in our terrines.

2. Choose Your Cheese

When you offer a variety of pâté, you also need a variety of cheeses. One of the most exciting parts of a pâté board is allowing your guests to experiment with different combinations. We suggest choosing cheeses from different categories, such as:

? Smoked cheeses, such as smoked provolone, gouda and gruyere. The smoky, nutty taste pairs well with our pâté, complementing each other without losing their nuance.

? Sharp cheeses, like cheddar. The sharp, salty flavors cut through the gaminess of our country-style pâtés to provide a delightful contrast of flavors.

? Soft cheeses like brie or chevre. These cheeses add a creamy component to our pâtés, terrines and mousses.

If your pâté board is your main appetizer, you’ll want about three to four ounces of cheese per person. If it’s just one of many in your pre-meal line-up, shop for about two ounces per person.

3. Choose Your Accompaniments

Hard and cured meats such as salami and prosciutto have bold flavors that provide a contrast to the richness of pâtés. They also work as standalone flavors for pairing with cheeses.

You’ll also want a sweet component to balance many of the salty and prominent flavors on the board. Seasonal fruits, such as figs, pears and apples are a classic way to add balance, and a drizzle of honey enhances the savory flavors of pâtés and cheeses.

Nuts add texture and provide a palette-cleansing effect, which is important when you’re hosting an array of flavors. For a seasonal touch, roast walnuts or chestnuts. The aroma is mouth-watering!

4. Choose Your Breads

With all of this creamy, cheesy, savory goodness in front of them, your guests will be looking for a vehicle to get it from the board to their mouths. Supply your guests with a mixture of different breads, crackers and breadsticks for a range of texture options.

5. Choose Your Settings

Last, but certainly not least, are the details. If you’re crafting an elaborate pâté board, you’ll need plenty of room. You want to make sure that your board is not over-crowded, for both aesthetic and logistical purposes.

It’s helpful to guests if you label each item, so they know what to expect and how to pair their samplings. In order to keep things moving quickly, be sure that each item can easily be served. For soft foods, make sure there is an appropriate utensil (either for spreading or scooping). For hard foods or meats, make sure they’re cut into individual sizes servings, and that there are either toothpicks or serving forks readily available.

An Epicurean Picnic Checklist

Epicurean food consists of luxurious — and yes, even sensual — bites. An Epicurean picnic is all about having fun, getting fancy, and leaving the cheese doodles at home (we promise you won’t miss them).

When it comes to Epicurean picnic foods, your options are nearly endless. That said, the most important thing to keep in mind during an epicurean picnic is to be as lavish as possible. Here, we highlight a few suggestions that will steer you in the right direction. 

5 Cucumber Bite Recipes

Cucumber bites: the perfect healthy snack with plenty of crunch.

As savory as they are fulfilling, there are tons of different recipes for cucumber bites (because like pâté, they can pretty much go with everything). These bites of deliciousness are portable for picnics, easily shareable for group gatherings, and the coolness of the cucumber is particularly refreshing in warm weather.

The best part about cucumber bites? They’re incredibly easy to make! Check out our five favorite recipes below.

Shrimp Cucumber Bites

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Classic Dilly Cucumber Bites

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Prosciutto Cheese Cucumber Bites with Prosciutto

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Cucumber Bites

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Tomato Basil Cucumber Bites

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Mother’s Day With Alexian Pâté

While you’re familiar with our delicious pâté, you may not realize that Alexian Pâté is owned and operated by Laurie and Alexandra, who are mother and daughter. In honor of Mother’s Day, we interviewed them about their experiences running award-winning, women-owned business together.

What’s your favorite part about running a business with your mother/daughter?

Laurie: I get to be with my daughter every day!  And it’s wonderful to execute and plan with someone who is so vested in the business.

Alexandra: I agree! Working together means we always have something to talk about. We can always bounce ideas off of one another, work through plans for improvement, and, most importantly, we are ableto share in our successes together. 

What are some challenges you face?

Laurie: Alexandra really wants my big office (laughs). On a serious note, her high energy level makes me aware of my inevitable ageing. We do disagree with each other occasionally, but not often. Disagreements are usually resolved after taking the time to recognize each other’s knowledge and experience.  For example, she might defer to my many years of experience in growing and running a manufacturing business, but I will usually defer to her in matters of technology, communications, and giving enough time to fully examine an issue.

Alexandra: Yes, I’m after that big office of hers! (laughs)

Even though we are mother/daughter, our brains operate differently, so sometimes there are different approaches to things and we may not agree always.  Despite those differences, we do complement each other and we are usually able to come to the fairest and best solution.

At family gatherings, we find ourselves diving into work conversations because we are both so passionate about what we do. Finding the balance between work and personal/family time can be a challenge. 

What advice would you have for other mothers and daughters looking to run a business together?

Laurie: 

  1. Clarify the goals and aspirations of both mother and daughter.
  2. Be prepared to disagree and have a method for resolution, if needed. 
  3. Understand and appreciate the talents and experience that each brings to the mission.
    Alexandra:
    In addition to that:
  4. Get yourselves into professional peer organizations. You’ll often find other professionals in your position and they can give great feedback, advice, and support.
  5. Embrace each other’s strengths and differences, and realize that the way they may approach a challenge or situation may be different than yours. Just because there are different approaches doesn’t mean that either is wrong. 
  6. Make a plan to separate your business relationship from your family relationship.

What is your favorite “quality” about your mom/daughter? 

Laurie: It’s definitely her attention to and patience with detail in any and all forms.

Alexandra: Her vast knowledge of business and our industry.  She is very business-minded and has creative ways of thinking about things and approaching challenges.  

How do you think Alexian Pâté reflects your relationship?

 Laurie: It is a very happy and fun brand that never forgets what made it great:  Attention to quality, food safety, and consideration for its employees.

Alexandra: Laurie and I may be family by genes, but we consider our team here to be like family too. A big part of Alexian’s success can be attributed to our team of loyal employees and the care they put into the products that we make.  For decades, we have prided ourselves on making a top-quality product and we can’t make that without a top-quality team! 

Crunchidee-Crunch! Our Favorite Crunchy Foods to Add to Pâté

While not a flavor and in direct defiance of science, food that crunches simply tastes better than food that doesn’t. Combined with our delicious pâté, crunchy foods become out of this world.

With so many crunchy treats to choose from (and because you can’t go wrong with smearing anything crunchy with pâté), we’ve compiled a handy list in no particular order.

Alexian Pâté is the perfect combination food, and when it comes to the crunch, you can get even more creative than our above list. While you’d have to classify this under an experimental suggestion, you can even try everything from thick-cut bacon to apples. The possibilities really are endless.

A Match Made in Heaven: Perfect Pâté Pairings

It’s easy to fall in love with pâté! So rich in flavor, it is enough to send anyone’s taste buds into euphoria. Now consider that there are foods which, when coupled with pâté, make for a beautiful pairing.

Below, we have assembled a list of easy ingredients to pair with pâté to help you further enjoy your favorite snacks or appetizers.

Toast thick slices of baguette on a grill and add a generous portion of Alexian Duck Rillette –perfect for an appetizer or afternoon bite.

Our Goose Liver Mousse, made with Port Wine, serves as an excellent complement to a glass of fortified wine. If fortified wine isn’t available, red wine with earthy flavors (think Bordeaux or Cabernet) are excellent alternatives.

Alexian Mushroom Artichoke Pâté features artichoke hearts nestled in a delightful mushroom mousse. Make a skewer with this and pieces of cheese.

Make open-faced sandwiches on sliced bread with our Campagne Pâté.

Our Eggplant and Goat Cheese Pâté can be served between sliced cucumbers for a unique and refreshing pairing.

Alexian Grand Marnier Pâté makes for the perfect toothpick appetizer! Simply cube the pâté and spear it with a toothpick with small clementine or orange wedges for hors d’oeuvres.