How Using Platters Can Spice Up your Cookery

Diving into charcuterie boards at restaurants captivated Delicious Gratitude‘s eco-food and lifestyle stylist Anni Daulter with their appetising combination of beauty and finger-food variety. From there, the seed was planted for her original cookbook Bites on a Board, dedicated to the hands-on combination of rustic finesse and visual artistry that comes with board-based cuisine. It’s a step-by-step guide through some of the stylish and simple ways you can create and artfully arrange bite-size delicacies, to twist a mid-week meal into a dinner party hit.

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“A perfect board for me is rich in colours, diversity of textures and flavours and just plain ol’ fun,” Anni tells us when we catch up with her on how to assemble the perfect platter . With this brief in mind, Anni’s food selections are followed with a scavenger hunt for the best colours, appropriate accoutrement, and fun props that will accent the food and the elevate the diner’s overall experience.

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For Anni’s styling, colour is key. She’s currently into monochrome palettes with slight variations to create depth, and combining vintage, rustic, and floral pops of colour for an unexpected board: “beauty is the eye of the beholder for sure, but with food, the simple facts are if it doesn’t look appetizing, you won’t want to eat it!”
Stick around for Anni’s top summer recipe recommendation, a tantalising dark fruit and brie flatbread…

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THE PLUS: Your book gives such a diverse spread of dishes– where do you get your inspiration from?
Anni Daulter:
Inspiration for boards came from my life experiences. I started with thinking about all of the places I have travelled in the world and experiences I have had.

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TP: What’s important to bear in mind when balancing the flavours on the board?
Balancing flavours comes from thinking about what I like to eat honestly. I like a little sweet, a little salty, and a little kick! So trying to find foods that give the palate that well rounded experience is important to me. I like the diner to feel soul-satisfied, where the food experience has touched a part of their heart in a familiar way.

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TP: Any tips for picking the perfect board?
The board should reflect the experience and feeling that you want the diner to experience, and should reflect the appropriate styling for that board.

TP: What’s one of the strangest surfaces you’ve used in your work?
I was once eating breakfast at a local place where I LOVED the table texture, and I asked if we could come in the next day to shoot a few shots directly on that table for a book. The owner agreed, with a giggle!

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TP: As a chef, what does food mean to you?
It’s social connection, it’s food memories, it’s falling in love, it’s dating, it’s all the things! Eating on boards is a way to lay it all out there and say I am here, give me a chance, maybe bump hands with someone you are on a date with as you grab for the same bite…

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TP: What culinary trends besides food on boards do you predic for 2017?
Food in bowls are becoming a big thing; re-imagined milkshakes I think will be on the rise; floral infused foods with essential oils and cooked with high vibration intentions; foods made with activated charcoal (black ice cream is a big rage in some places); bohemian casual foods that appear to meet the sophisticated hippy at the intersection of ease and upscale.

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TP: We eat with our eyes, so Instagram is a feeding frenzy; any tips for taking the perfect food pic?
Simple is always best, and less is always more. Try not to have competing patterns in photos of food, as it detracts from the food, but mostly, let your styling come from your heart and from your desire to cook and present food to share with those you love.

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Bites on a Board is available now from Gibbs Smith.

Check out Anni’s mouth-watering Black and Brie summer recipe recommendation here, and tag our Instagram to share your photos.

Recipe Image ('Black and Bree')

Black and Brie
• 1 ball sweet dough or store bought puff pastry rolled out (for the more ambitious chefs among you, check out Anni and collaborator Jessica Booth’s sweet dough base recipe below…)
• 1/2 pound brie, hand torn into chunks
• 2 punnets blackberries
• 1/2  cup cambozola crumbles
• 1 Tablespoon kirsch
• 1 bunch basil
• 1 Tablespoon lavender flowers
• 4 Tablespoons runny honey
• Balsamic glaze

1. Roll out dough as directed.
2. Place the brie chunks onto the dough.
3. Toss the blackberries in the kirsch and scatter over the brie.
4. Sprinkle with cambozola crumbles
5. Bake as directed – for puff, at 400 for about 10-15 minutes.
6. Delicately scatter tiny basil leaves and lavender over the masterpiece. If you have larger leaves, chiffonade them.
7. Finish with honey drizzle and serve with balsamic for dunking. Add beautiful flowers as a touch of summer fun to enhance the beauty of your flatbread!

Sweet Dough – (Anni Daulter and Jessica Booth)
Makes 8-10 flatbread bases
This dough is a classic yeasted dough which needs time to rise. The time allows for the gluten to develop and enriches the flavour.
• Ingredients:
• 4 1/2 cups  all purpose flour
• 1/2 Tablespoon salt
• 1/4 cup sugar or honey
• 1 pack activated yeast
• 5 Tablespoon melted butter
• 1/4 cup luke warm water (you may need a little more depending on your flour & humidity)
• 1 cup water (may be slightly more or less depending on your flour, humidity etc.)
• Extra flour for kneading
1. In a small measuring jug, mix together sugar and yeast. Add 1/4 cup warm water and leave for about 10 minutes until bubbly.
2. Next, evenly mix together your salt and flour. Make a dip in the center of the flour and pour in your yeast. Using the dough hook mixer attachment, or your hands, mix flour and yeast together gradually adding your water and melted butter until the dough forms a ball that holds together.
3. Transfer your dough ball to a floured surface and knead a few minutes until the dough becomes smooth and pliable. Place in an oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic. You can go for a slow prove and place in fridge for 24 hours or leave on counter to prove until it has doubled in size usually 1-2 hours.
4. Once doubled in size, you can shape into balls. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll each one into a ball and hide the seam by pulling the dough around the top and gathering it on the bottom.
5. Either wrap the balls individually and freeze for future use, or roll them out and get ready to bake. If you did the slow prove in the fridge, let the dough come up to room temperature before handling.
6. To roll out:  sprinkle a little flour on the surface and on rolling pin. Place dough ball in center and roll out to desired thickness and shape. You can also roll out with cinnamon sugar if you like it really sweet and sticky.
Photos from the book: Alexandra DeFurio
Photos of Black and Brie: Megan Elizondo