Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Thankful For Appetizers

The family gathered from far and wide to partake in that most American of holidays, Thanksgiving. And any holiday that is all about eating, drinking, and joyful convivality is okay by me.

I was assigned appetzier duty, which I attacked with relish. I flicked my way through a multitude of cookbooks and print-outs, before settling on two recipes that were tried and true, and two quite new.

I’d had it in mind to make a couple of dips/spreads, and really wanted some cute little breadsticks for dunking purposes (double-dippers not welcomed!).

I used last week’s kalamatta olive focaccia recipe, although this time there was enough forethought for a slow, cool rise overnight in the refrigerator.

The dough was portioned out and twisted long and thin, baking into beautiful, golden, olive-flecked sticks.

Dip number one was from epicurious: Thyme and Garlic Cheese Dip. I ran just a hair short of thyme, so made up the rest with some chives. The resultant mixture turned an odd, pale shade of green, much like the floors lining my old elementary school.

It, too, spent a night in the fridge, in hopes of its flavours melding. When tasted the next day, however, the garlic dominated everything. Other than being quite garlicky, this dip was oddly bland.

Like sliced white bread, only green- and garlicky.

There was A LOT of this left over.

Moving on to an old favourite, we have Hot Spinach Cheese Dip. I’m a huge fan of spinach dips, but not so fond of mayonnaise. Discovering this recipe was a real treat, from the zippy-cheesy flavour, to its ease of preparation.

This dip needs to stay piping hot when being served, otherwise the cheese rapidly begins to harden up into an congealed mess. A very small crockpot would be ideal; I ended up keeping a pot warmed on the stove, which worked, but was a bit awkward.

And finally, what proved to be the pre-feast highlight, Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms . These were also a new recipe from epicurious; I prepped the mushrooms and the mixture the night before, and did all the stuffing that morning. In the interest of keeping these bite-sized, I used regular small button mushrooms instead of the stuffers.

It took them slightly longer than the suggested 25 minutes of cooking time, and I ended up finishing them with a blast from the broiler. It was truly worth the wait! Each little mushroomy mouthful was a delightful mix of the herbed cheeses and spicy sausage. My father-in-law gave me a hug and a kiss; my sister-in-law asked for the recipe; DucCat looked at me quite seriously, and said, "These kick ASS!".

While they were the last appetizer to emerge, this platter was the first to disappear. ‘nuff said.

Finally, it was time for some serious Thanksgiving noshing. Appetizers were packed away and little plates cleared, making room for the star of the show: a massive, golden, stuffing-filled turkey. Truly an occasion for which to give thanks!


Hot Spinach Cheese Dip

1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
1 cup freshly grated monterey jack cheese
8 ounces sour cream
1 tablespoon grated, peeled onions
1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 dashes hot sauce

Combine all ingredients in a large (microwave safe preferably) bowl.
Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Stir; microwave another 2 minutes.
Stir again and microwave for 1 minute.
Serve piping hot.

Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms

3 Italian hot sausages, casings removed
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 large egg yolk
Olive oil
24 large (about 2-inch-diameter) mushrooms, stemmed
1/3 cup dry white wine

Sauté sausage and oregano in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until sausage is cooked through and brown, breaking into small pieces with back of fork, about 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage mixture to large bowl and cool. Mix in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder, then cream cheese. Season filling with salt and pepper; mix in egg yolk.
Brush 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish with olive oil to coat. Brush cavity of each mushroom cap with white wine; fill with scant 1 tablespoon filling and sprinkle with some of remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Arrange mushrooms, filling side up, in prepared dish. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake uncovered until mushrooms are tender and filling is brown on top, about 25 minutes.

Makes 24.
Bon Appétit
Too Busy To Cook?
November 2002
Louise Pickerel, Muskogee, OK


Blogger MeBeth said...

Argh - I just drooled on my keyboard. Those mushrooms. They must be mine. Oh yes, they will be mine.

November 29, 2005 3:40 PM  
Blogger nosheteria said...

I too hate mayo, its slightly sweet, very opaque, globulous nature just does not do it for me. So...thanks for the recipe for spinach dip.

November 30, 2005 2:16 AM  
Blogger s'kat said...

MeBeth, let the mushrooms guide you on the path to fulfillment.

nosh, I've been trying for a couple of years to get past my mayo 'thing', but it's been a struggle. I'm finally at the point where I can accept that it is included in some things that I really like (such as crab cakes and pimento cheese), but beyond that, I just shudder.

November 30, 2005 8:04 AM  

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