PORT WINE AND CHEDDAR
This recipe was stolen from a good friend of mine who does a cooking show out of the studio that I work for.But I know she won't mind.I was in the middle of this chapter and struggling hard to come up with a couple more cream cheese recipes when she came in to tape her show.I thought this one was really good, but I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the recipe while she was doing it, so I ended up modifying it when I made it for the family.So, technically it's no longer her recipe, right? Mine is probably better anyway.And while we're on the subject of modifying recipes.I hope you're starting to get the point that no recipe is set in stone.This isn't a Bible or anything, change what you don't like. If you want to turn the cream cheese and olive spread into cream cheese and pimento...try it. If it turns out like hell, don't do it again. If it turns out better than mine, drop me a line and I'll put it in the next book. (Slightly modified to keep from having to give you anything. Just kidding. Sort of). Maybe you don't want to change your great grandmother's fruitcake recipe or Aunt Hildy's giblet dressing, I probably would, but some people are pretty stubborn about the traditional stuff. But if you're reading a cookbook and there's an ingredient that you don't like, leave it out. After all, its your stomach. (This time I haven't digressed at all, a new record)
- ¼ cup of port wine (or a nice dry burgundy, experiment!)
- 1 cup of white cheddar cheese, shredded all to hell.
- some little pink peppercorns for a lovely garnish (okay, if this is for the poker boys, leave out the peppercorns and try making this with Wild Turkey) (on second thought, bourbon and cheese sounds like a hideous combination, I wouldn't do it if I were you.)
** Squoosh together everything except the peppercorns. Probably start by combining the wine and cheese then add the cheddar. Should be a lovely pink color. Sprinkle the pink peppercorns around the top of the cheese ball. To tell you the honest-to-God truth, I had no idea that there was such a thing as pink peppercorns until she taped the show. It's one of those things that you can drive someone else nuts with by sending them to the store to find them. Send someone you don't like very much because I haven't been able to find the little suckers yet. Personally when I garnish stuff, I like to use M & M 's and they just don't go well with port wine and cheddar. Go figure. Try sprinkling some of the white cheddar over it. Beats running around the Kroger's asking women with pink curlers and fat children where you might locate the pink peppercorns. She probably can't even find the replacement insoles for her fuzzy slippers that she came in for.
Ooooo...I think I've digressed again. How far this time?
HAM AND CHEESE (SORT OF)
Some of the credit for this one has to go to my grandmother, after all, every cookbook has at least one recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation. This one ain't it, but it's probably the closest one I've got. She always made it with potted meat, but have you ever read what's in that stuff? I'll admit that I eat it on occasion. But usually when I'm camping or fishing or something. After a couple of days in the wilderness, your tastebuds are pretty much dulled to the point that you can't taste the pig butts and tongues. But, as usual, I digress. This is one of those real simple recipes that you can kind of keep around for you to snack on during football games. It's got at least two of the four food groups, meat and dairy. I suppose you could eat it with crackers and a carrot and call it well-balanced. Le recipe:
- one block of cream cheese, softened
- one can of deviled ham
You should pretty much have the hang of how this goes now. Blend it and slap it on a Saltine. But let's say, these people that have just dropped in are your husband's boss and his lawyer who just stopped by to have coffee and discuss making him a partner in the advertising firm. At this point you can't really throw a Tupperware bowl of anything and a pack of Saltines on the table and invite the boys to "chow down". That's okay for poker nights and Monday Night Football, but for this you need to show a little more class. Luckily, this is quick...so it doesn't appear to be a lot of trouble. You don't want people to have to apologize for dropping in unannounced, no matter what Dear Abby says. I say you should always appear to be able to sweep together a quick snack and honestly say, "It was no trouble at all." But to make this look a little nicer. Use a small cracker, like a wheat thin. After all, Saltines are too large to eat in one bite, and have a tendency to create a lot of crumbs. Crumbs are not what you want Mr. Boss to have on his Sunday golf attire. Wheat thins can be tossed into a mouth in one bite without appearing piggish and without creating a mess. Slap a little bit on each cracker and then garnish about half of them with stuff like olive slices, pieces of cheese, you know, stuff that matches up with ham. Understand? Put a nice bowl with the rest of the ham spread (or really any one of the recipes in the chapter) on a tray. Surround it with the prepared crackers and some plain crackers. That way, if the guest doesn't like the spread, they can eat the crackers plain without feeling like they'll hurt your feelings. And if they run out of the prepared crackers, they can fix their own.
I guess all of this has come naturally to me. And perhaps some of you are wondering why I go through all of this. Well, this book is not just for cooks, its for bachelors who'd like to be able to make an impression on someone and still feed the guys after a tough water polo match. Its for college kids who can put away a ton of food, but still need something for those sorority mixers. It's especially for those husbands whose wives could use a nice surprise when she gets home from work. You know, you don't have to go to a lot of trouble to make people feel special. Just knowing that you thought enough to fix a little snack for her (or him, if the situation is reversed) instead of asking when the hell dinner is going to be ready, well...that might be just enough to keep her (or him) from hitting you with the fireplace poker in the middle of the night. And this time I have digressed to a point so far beyond my control....I think I'll close this chapter and move on the another subject.
But remember, cream cheese is not just a spread...its a staple. Keep it on hand all the time. It's not going to go bad very fast, you'll eat it long before then. Cream cheese is our friend. But do everything in moderation. Well, almost everything.