Thursday, October 05, 2006

Project Hors d'Oeuvres

I'm sure that some or most of my readers do not share my obsession with Bravo's Project Runway. This is not really one of those situations where it makes sense to smile pityingly and say, "Oh well, more for me!" but I will say that it's the one reality TV show that I can watch with no guilt whatsoever, even without having to resort to the excuse that I watch it with my daughter, so it counts as quality family time. (I won't name the shows that I watch with huge quantities of guilt: find your own train wrecks to gawk at.) A couple of weeks ago, when I thought that the episode that I thought would narrow the field down to three designers was going to air, I set out to make four nibbles to enjoy while shouting at the judges (on TV, where they could not have heard me even if the show had not been taped months prior, you understand) that if they dared to send Laura home, I would have their entrails. (I've never made sausage, but, well, it's best that we leave that thought unfinished.)

I left the post unfinished for a while, but, as luck would have it, even after the final elimination episode, there are still a final four, so if you want to make one or more of these appetizers for one or both of the final two episodes, they're still à propos.

Each of the following recipes is meant to represent one of the remaining designers. Fans of PR will have no trouble determining which corresponds to whom, and non-fans will not care, but just to be a little more obvious, I'll say that the recipes include

- a goat cheese and tapenade toast that is chic and very well constructed, executed in a very limited color palette: the gays love it;
- a cheese log that slices to reveal a wild print: this one would be especially good in Mi-am-eee;
- an edgy meatball (oh shut up) that combines ingredients that can't possibly belong together but that still manages to taste great even though you might prefer that it didn't; and
- a simple but well-thought-out yogurt dip with clean and sweet flavors: it's sure to be a fan favorite.

(And let's all just take a moment to be grateful that I wasn't forced to come up with an appetizeral representation for Vincent, shall we? There may be cultures where Prozac-encrusted hyena hunks are considered the height of taste, but the idea really doesn't turn me on.)


Fabulously Glamorous Tapenade Toasts

2 T. olive oil
2 small cloves garlic
Thinly sliced white or wheat bread (I used Pepperidge Farm thinly sliced wheat)
5 ounces goat cheese at room temperature
2 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 10-ounce jar of pitted black calamata olives, preferably packed in red wine vinegar
Salt
Pepper
Parsley or cilantro, optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Put the olive oil in a heavy saucepan or small skillet and set over low heat. Cut one of the garlic cloves in half and put it in the oil. Don't let the garlic burn.

Trim the crusts off of the bread so that the remaining bread is crustless and square. Cut the squares on the diagonal twice to leave four small triangles. Put the triangles on a baking sheet and set in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Remove the triangles from the oven, and brush one side of each of them lightly with the garlic-infused oil. Return them to the oven for another 8-10 minutes, or until they're well toasted. Then let them sit until cool.

Remove the garlic clove from the oil. Remove the pan from the heat. Drain the olives, reserving some of the liquid they were packed in. Add the olives to the saucepan or skillet. Mince or puree the second clove of garlic, and add it to the olives along with a generous grinding of pepper and a pinch of salt. If you are using the parsley or cilantro, chop a tablespoon or so of it and add it.

Either turn the mixture into the bowl of your food processor or use your immersion blender to puree it in the pan. Either way, add enough of the reserved liquid to give you something that will spread easily but not run. Taste and correct seasoning.

Cream together the goat cheese and cream cheese. Spread a thin layer of the cheese mixture on each triangle and then top with a small dollop of the tapenade.

Hot Mess Meatballs

10 ounces small portobello mushrooms
1 T. butter
1 cup red wine
16 ounces bulk sausage
1.5 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 t. dijon mustard
1/4 t. Tabasco
1 egg
salt
pepper
1 can beef broth
2 T. butter, softened
2 T. flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the portobello mushrooms. Take about a cup of the sliced mushrooms and saute them over high heat with the butter. When they are nicely cooked and browned, reduce the heat slightly, add half the red wine to the pan, and stir well to deglaze. Pour the mushrooms and (mostly evaporated) wine into the food processor and chop fine.

In a bowl, combine the chopped, cooked mushrooms, the sausage, the bread crumbs, the pineapple, the mustard, the Tabasco, the egg, and salt and pepper to taste. Mush this all together very well with your hands, then form into balls of the size you like (mine were larger than they should have been), and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until they're nicely browned and done. Remove from the oven and let cool a little.

In a saucepan, combine the beef broth, the remaining half-cup of red wine, and the remaining mushroom slices. Bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes. Use your immersion blender to puree the mixture (I omitted this step when I made the batch that I photographed above, alas). Knead the butter and flour together into a beurre manié (aka "kneaded butter"). Bring the sauce back to the boil, whisk in the beurre manié, and cook until the sauce is thickened. Taste and correct the seasoning.



Hippy Dippy Cheese Log

10 ounces cheddar cheese
2 T. butter
2 T. red wine
2 T. white wine
1 T. finely chopped chives
1 T. capers
3 T. pistachios
1/4 c. Pine nuts, toasted

Coaresly chop or grate the cheddar and put it into the food processor along with the butter. Pulse until the two are well combined and relatively smooth. Divide the mixture into two parts. Add the red wine to one part and the white wine to the other, and mix until smooth and spreadable. Stir the chopped chives into the white mixture.

Cover a cutting board with a sheet of plastic wrap. Spread the white mixture into a rectangle about nine inches long and six inches wide. Spread the capers and pistachios evenly over the white mixture and press them lightly into the surface. Spread the red mixture over the white mixture. Use the plastic wrap to roll the log as tightly as you can.

Twist the ends of the plastic wrap and refrigerate until the log is fairly solid. Roll the log in the toasted pine nuts. Serve thinly sliced on crackers, and just below room temperature.

Save-a-Ho Yogurt Dip

1 cup Greek style yogurt
1 lemon
3 T. toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
3 T. honey
Fresh fruit

Line a strainer with cheesecloth or a paper towel and put the yogurt inside. Put the strainer over a bowl and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.

Finely grate the zest of the lemon, then squeeze the juice out of it. Strain the juice. Combine the drained yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, walnuts, and honey. Stir well. Add more honey or lemon juice if you think it wise.

Serve the dip in a bowl, accompanied by sliced fresh fruit. I used figs because we have a fig tree in the back yard, and it's currently got ripe figs on it, and they're great, but sliced pears or apples would also work splendidly.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is fantastic. Way to combine love of PR and love of food!

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

Love it!

Hyena jerky might make a better hors d'oeuvre than hyena hunks. Just a thought. :)

4:00 PM  
Blogger ACey said...

What a beautiful blend of obessions. Very nicely done.

4:12 PM  
Blogger goblinbox said...

"Appetizeral representation" is now my favourite phrase. And that tapenade really is glorious.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous June said...

Your comment regarding, "Prozac-encrusted hyena hunks" had me reeling with laughter. Great idea to combine foods with the personalities of the designers.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are the new Top Chef!

9:18 PM  
Anonymous lindy said...

Okay. first of all-these are too great and I may have to duplicate the entire thing. Second-I really have to figure out when this program is on, so I can watch it.
You are about the 20th person with excellent taste who has informed me that they are addicted to P. Runway. Clearly, something is up.

Unfortunately, I have come to a point where just about all the tv I watch is seen belatedly on dvd. I don't seem to be capable of tuning in for anything when it's on anymore. For me, it's all via netflix, for the past few years. I'm fully supplied for as much tv time as I can spare, watching all the fine tv available that way -though, of course, I'm always behind the gossip- and continually subject to spoilers.

This fall, though, I am actually (so far) managing to watch Veronica Mars in real (tv) time- so maybe I can extend myself a little further. I don't get a local paper- so I don't really have a tv section to check. Can you tell me when it's on?

7:55 AM  

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