Book Review: Beautiful Boards: 50 Amazing Snack Boards for Any Occasion, by Maegan Brown
This article was first published in the April/May 2023 edition of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI.
“If you board it, they will come!” says Meagan Brown, “The BakerMama” and mother of four. Taking her first cues from her mother, who filled the dinner table’s lazy Susan and allowed people to help themselves, Brown now teaches her children to share and make choices to have a healthy relationship with food.
In Beautiful Boards: 50 Amazing Snack Boards for Any Occasion, Brown shares what she calls “the snack board mind-set,” and asserts that any meal can be boarded. She also subscribes to well-known adage that we eat first with our eyes, and her boards are indeed feasts in every sense of the word. In three easy steps – gather ingredients and serving dishes, pile on the bounty, and eat! – Brown offers great ways to celebrate almost any holiday, event, or time of year.
Her list of “everything you need go get started building” includes a wooden board (she recommends a 20” hardwood circle), serving bowls in various sizes ( 8 oz., 3 oz., and 1 oz.), cheese knives, small spoons, a honey dipper, and serving utensils. Remember, also, to prepare small serving plates, napkins, and toothpicks or forks.
When it comes to the actual ingredients, Brown insists that the sky is the limit and the only barriers are your imagination and your palate. She has a few general tips, though, such as to always include fruit and veggies; to mix salty, sweet, crunchy and chewy; and to pay attention to the temperature when serving items that require chilling or to be served hot.
Here are just a few of more than 50 delicious boards featured in Beautiful Boards:
Princess Board – a little girl’s pink fantasy featuring watermelon, birthday cake popcorn, strawberry marshmallows, pink jelly beans and M&Ms, and pink gummy candy
Take Me Out to the Ball Game – a white, rectangular tray filled with peanuts, giant salted pretzels with mustard dipping sauce, caramel corn, pickles, and hot dogs
Winter Wonderland – Brie cheeses in three sizes (3”, 4” and 6”) form the body of a “snowman” laying in a night sky made of blueberries and popcorn “snow”
Easter Candy – formed on an oval tray, assorted pastel candies and treats such as pink yogurt pretzels, yellow Jordan almonds, light blue M&Ms and purple jelly beans create a giant striped Easter egg
The book goes on to show how breakfast can be transformed in the Pancake Board – bacon, berries, bananas, chocolate chips, whipped cream and syrup – with all the toppings pre-chopped and nestled in small bowls. A similar board features bagels with tomatoes, cream cheese, lox, onions, capers, jams, and chopped fruit.
There’s even a section on Meal boards including Pizza Lovers, Build-Your-Own-Taco, Mediterranean Mezze, Grilled Cheese, and Cobb Salad. The Barbecue Board brings together ribs, grilled corn, baked beans, coleslaw, potato wedges, macaroni and cheese, and various kinds of bread.
The book ends with recipes for some of the ingredients, such as oatmeal chocolate chip bites, snack mix, Pigs-in-a-Blanket, potato latkes, and pumpkin cheese ball. Happy eating!