Parties, parties, parties. This is the season for parties–parties at your home, parties with friends, family members, work colleagues. When December rolls along, the entire month is packed with celebrations for the holidays. Sometimes, your only responsibility is to show up and enjoy. Other times, you find yourself either tasked with something to bring or heading up the festivities. Look no further because this dip is the answer to your party prayers. It is warm, gooey and full of flavor thanks to lots of blue cheese. It doesn’t take much to put it together, which means you can quickly assemble and enjoy.
Last weekend, I celebrated a friend’s birthday at Malibu Wines Tasting Room. A dozen friends and I ventured to the Santa Monica Mountains, where we sipped vino under the bright sun and toasted to the coming summer. Of course, as well, we ate! Each person brought an array light nipplets to share with the group. We passed around thin slices of mortadella, stuffed gourmet olives, and strawberries dipped in goat cheese among other things. Of course, I had to bring something too. My contribution to our afternoon, birthday picnic would be an oversized crostini featuring smoked salmon and avocado.
I never knew that I would meet this hilarious woman named Mona at an Italian event in West Los Angeles. I’m happy that we met that afternoon because we’ve remained in touch since then. It wasn’t until we exchanged our first email that I realized she had a blog, Cook This…Get Laid, that would make me giggle (and make some take notes). We have continued to cross paths at various food events and parties, and soon, I hope we’ll cross paths in a kitchen. It’s time for a cooking collabo. And it’s also time for her to meet Amir! For now, she’s sharing one of her favorite summer recipes for you and whomever you want to impress.
Choosing a blank canvas that can be painted with anything is the way to go in the kitchen. Take a simple tart shell for example. You can go super savory and layer it with vegetables, meats and cheeses, or you can choose the sweet side and slather it with fruit, chocolate, custards and caramel. Which one do you prefer? On this side of the fence, either one sounds good, but there seems to be more fun with the savory side. Plus, it’s a great way to pile on as many items that will fit in your mouth for each bite, and for the most part, you may feel less guilt. Now, if you are one who always feels guilt free after a bite of a sugary dessert tart, then ignore that last sentence. Hey, we can’t judge at all! If the savory tart above could speak, it probably would’ve asked for a dessert companion to pair with the meal.
Our Guest Test Kitchen series has been in effect for a while now, and each month, we look forward to having a new friend or family member share one of their favorite recipes with us and you as well. Here’s another one. Selene is at the helm for the month of March. She works with Chrystal, and she’s a girl who knows and loves good food. How perfect to have her around when it’s time for a new recipe. She may not see her post go up for a while as she’s trekking through Southeast Asia at this very moment where she plans to take a few cooking classes. We can’t wait to see what she whips up upon return to the States. When she’s back in town, she’ll catch up and check out your thoughts of her appetizer for today. Check it out!
The relationship between a home cook and his or her food processor is sacred. That is why it was a day of mourning when my merely 6 month-old food processor suddenly bit the dust not too long ago. What caused it to stop working one day without warning? Guess we’ll never know why these things happen. Thankfully, though, a new and improved food processor recently entered the picture, and this one even doubles as a blender! Chrystal recently received a new food processor too, and we’ve both been blending up soups, spreads, dips and more. Here’s a fun, Spring green recipe that works perfectly for anyone who wants to initiate a new kitchen tool.
Maybe you don’t need to know that this is yet another dish created last year, during the holiday rush of course. Our friend Carol, a fellow Southern gal living here in Los Angeles, hosted her annual Christmas party, and she requested a vegetarian-friendly appetizer. One of the first things that we thought of was mushrooms. They are flavor-packed, pair nicely with other veggies, come in a variety of sizes and colors and can either be served inside something or act as a serving vessel (think stuffed ‘shrooms, right?). They may be overused as one of the meatier additions in a vegetarian diet, but hey, they would make the cut. Put them in some pastry, and they’d be tasty and cute. Cute food has a special place in some people’s hearts. All you have to do is make something bite-sized and portable, and they are all over it. Once we’d decided on ‘shrooms, it was just a matter of piecing the rest of the recipe together.
When you think about party hors d’oeuvres, maybe you wonder what’s the easiest way for people to serve themselves? Fun bits to nibble on are the type that come with edible utensils. Take bacon for instance. It’s pliable and easy to shape as needed. Oh, and it tastes good. It makes a perfect bacon spoon (a bacoon?) to carry food from the plate to your mouth. It is one of the star ingredients in this simple appetizer that combines two things that we both love–bacon and cheese.
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto. You can interpret the lyrics of this old song as literally or figuratively as you like, but today, we’ll go with the latter. What makes guacamole guacamole? This dip was taken to a potluck dinner party during the dead of fall. If someone asked what it was, one could easily have said ‘Avocado dip’. And that is what was said. Funny enough, someone said ‘You make a good guacamole for someone from the East coast.’ The fact that East coasters may or may not be able to make guacamole is a side issue, and if anyone wants to chime in on that one, they are welcome. The funny part was that he called this guacamole. This is in no way to call him out, but it does raise an interesting question about how people classify what a dish is and what it definitely is not. In our opinion, this is a dip all the way, but what if it had been chunkier and studded with tomatoes (tomahtoes, if you prefer) and onions? What would you call it then?
Cheese is up there in our top ten list of foods. Gouda, cheddar, brie, mascarpone, manchego, asiago, halloumi, havarti, swiss, cotija, paneer–doesn’t matter. We don’t care if it came from a down home Wisconsin farmer or monks in the French Pyrenees. If it’s cheese, we’ll eat it. One of the favorites is chèvre. Although chèvre literally translates to ‘goat’, when applied to the cheese, it typically refers to the soft version that can be spread or dolloped on anything. Feta cheese is the semi-hard form of goat’s milk cheese that a lot of us love in Greek dishes. Goat’s milk has less fat, calories and cholesterol than cow’s milk, which means that cheeses from goat’s milk are naturally leaner. That gives us a weak excuse to use it as much as possible. The same goes for you. Let’s enjoy it together, shall we?