Saturday, 6 March 2010
Oscar and the grumbling tummy
Some of you long-suffering readers might recall my effusive, gushing Oscar entry last year. Well guess what? It's that time of year again - huzzah! But I think that instead of boring you with my usual starry-eyed Oscar deluge, I'll focus on the food.
What, no moaning about how my Oscar dress is tighter than ever this year? Or the fact that I can't indulge in too much champers on account of nursing Jady? Nope, this year, I'm just gonna tell you about the food I plan to make and devour during the 3 hour Oscar shennanigans. Cause I'm hungry and I haven't written about food in ages!
I come from a long line of excellent cooks and entertainers. My mother threw elaborate parties, and relied on several mainstays when serving appetizers. My sister and I were schooled in the art of putting together the "hors d'ouvres" (as Mom always called them) for the parties, and to this day, I can still make many of her recipes from memory. They're not fancy, but they look good and they have a certain 1970's - 1980's kitsch factor that tickles me every time I make them. Plus, they rock the tastebuds, which is the most important thing.
I'll describe a few of them here, then list the recipes below if you're interested. And if you have any fancy-dancy appies to share, please do. I always prefer a meal of appetizers to a full course supper.
First on the list are the Cheese Dreams. This one is kind of a poor man's quiche, but there's never any left when I serve it. It's a bit annoying on account of the Pillsbury dough management technique, but once you get the hang of it, it's worth the sticky fingers and muttered epithets while unrolling the dough. For those of you outside North America who have no idea what Pillsbury dough is, I'm not sure I can suggest a substitute; Pillsbury dough is every lazy cook's companion. It's chock full of fat, salt and unmentionable ingredients, but does it ever taste good.
Next, I like to whip up Mom's famous Taco Dip.
Mom's prounciation of the word "taco" used to make my sister and I exchange eye rolls, but the dip is absolutely scrumptious. I have even been known to eat leftovers for breakfast...if there are any, that is. It's simple, and actually not that horrible for you if you use low-fat cream cheese. The flavours meld together into a fantastic blend and the texture is somewhere between creamy-crunchy depending on which veggies you use. I must stress that you use decent nacho chips for dipping though - use a cheap brand and they'll snap like matchsticks when you try to scoop up a decent helping. Blue corn chips seem to be the best pick in my experience.
I didn't make Mushroom Caps this year, because D doesn't like them and I don't want to gobble an entire platter myself, which is exactly what will occur. But my heavens, they are SO GOOD. I assume it's the bacon, or maybe the fresh parmesan...in any case, I have never once made these and had people not scarf them so quickly they burned their tongues, despite my warnings. Once, I brought a tray of uncooked mushies to a New Year's party. The power went out - and the guests snorked them all back raw!
Mom never served proscuitto
that I can recall, but it's a treat for me. The sweetness of the melon against the saltiness of the meat is divine. The trick is browbeating your deli-counter employee to slice it PAPER THIN. There is nothing gaggier than a too-thick piece of proscuitto, trust me, and the folks at Sobey's, bless their high-school hearts, just can't seem to grasp that until I've sent the slice back at least three times. Good thing I don't make this one very often - I might get banned from the grocery store.
So anyway, the recipes are below. I hope you'll try 'em - and even if you don't watch the Oscars, I hope you feel glamorous when you eat these patented Alisa Feick hors d'ouvres. Bon appetit!
2 rolls of Pilsbury dough - crescents
splash of milk or cream
1/4 cup parsley, minced
1/4 cup green olives, sliced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
dash of your favourite hot sauce
1. Preheat oven to 375. Spread the dough out so that it covers a 9x13 baking sheet, preferably one with edges. It's a pain in the butt process, but try to make sure there are no gaps between the seams. You may have to get creative.
2. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and milk together until well blended.
3. Add all other ingredients except pepper. Stir until everything is well coated.
4. Spread the mixture out until all parts of the dough are covered. You may have to tilt the pan to get the eggy stuff to move around.
5. Grind some fresh pepper on it, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until slightly browned. Cool for 10 minutes, cut into squares and serve warm or cold.
What you'll need:
5 green onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 seedless cucumber, finely chopped
3/4 cup salsa
1 block cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp chili pepper
1 tsp onion or garlic powder
1/2 cup jack or cheddar cheese, grated
1. Blend cream cheese and sour cream together until smooth and no lumps. (If you have the energy, use electric beaters.) Add spices and mix well.
2. Spread the cheese mixture over a large platter to 3/4 inch thickness. Cover with the salsa.
3. Starting at the outside edge of the platter, spread the onion in a circle. Follow with a circle of red pepper, then orange/yellow pepper, then fill centre with cucumber.
4. Sprinkle with cheese. Chill 30 minutes; serve with good quality nacho chips.
Marvy Mushroom Caps
20 medium sized mushrooms, stems removed (reserve 8 stems & chop finely)
1/2 block cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sweet onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup parsley, minced
two (or more) dashes hot sauce
salt and pepper
5 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled (Do NOT chintz out and buy pre-cooked bacon. Just...don't.)
1/4 cup fresh parmesan, grated
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Mix all ingredients together (except mushroom caps!).
3. Stuff mushroom caps as full as you can.
4. Bake for 20 minutes or until juices start flowing out of the caps.
Note: let them cool slightly or you will burn your tongue!
Proscuitto & Melon
10 slices of proscuitto, paper thin
10 chunks of honeydew or canteloupe melon
10 fresh mint leaves
juice from 1/4 lemon or 1/2 lime
1. Toss melon with lemon or lime juice in a small bowl. Let sit 5 minutes.
2. Wrap each piece of melon with a slice of proscuitto.
3. Top with a mint leaf. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Note: You can stab them with toothpicks, but I find the meat/melon/mint combo sticks together quite well without them.