Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Holiday Apps: Part One
Welcome to my 3 part Holiday Appetizer series!
The first recipe is a little bit fancy, yet captures the elements of the most beloved white trash snacks (salty and sweet), beautifully. I won't lie to you - it's also a little expensive - but it redeems itself in the fact that you can:
a) make it ahead and refrigerate it, covered in plastic wrap, until your guests arrive
b) sit at a counter, mindlessly watching TV while making them (no cooking involved, just a little culinary origami)
c) relieve yourself of the panic that bacon appetizers create (i.e. a house or apartment filled with bacon smoke)
d) save yourself the laborious task of beheading and chopping dried figs or fruits
I will say I adore the classic bacon-wrapped dates and Parmesan, but I've experienced too many horror stories with making them for parties, involving forgetting them on my grill and having $40 of food literally go up in smoke, becoming little appetizer ghosts doomed to forever circle the earth in search of the perfect party. Therefore this is my no-bake, no-smell, no-panic alternative. And yes, I've had prosciutto-wrapped figs, but fresh figs are in season for about fifteen seconds and even when they are - aren't quite sweet enough (in my opinion) to go one on one against the prosciutto - while dried figs require more work (see above) and frankly, just sort of lie there under the meat, cold and joyless.
Besides - and I know I'm about to commit culinary blasphemy here - but fig spread, with its deep amber color, gentle sweetness and teasing crunch, tastes a hundred times better than any fig I've ever tasted - fresh or dried. Sue me.
Prosciutto Wrapped Figs and Cheese:
(I like the mellow, creamy bite of St. Andre cheese here to play fiddle to the salty prosciutto and sweet fig spread, but you could easily substitute a small chunk of good Parmesan, Gruyere, or even a smear of goat cheese)
1 package of good quality prosciutto (4-6 slices), cut in half, length wise
1 jar fig spread
1 medium wedge St. Andre cheese (a triple cream cow's milk French cheese) - about 4-5 oz
Set up your assembly line: you'll need a teaspoon to dole out your fig spread, a knife to cut your cheese, and a plate on which to assemble the bundles.
Place a strip of prosciutto on your plate. Cut off a half-inch wedge of cheese (the size of a small pat of butter) and place on one end of the prosciutto. Top with a half-teaspoon dollop of fig spread, then gently pick it up and wrap the rest of the prosciutto around and around the little bundle until you have a package. Continue with the rest of your slices.
• Prosciutto can be very tricky to work with once it becomes warm - I like to cut mine into slices, separate out on a cookie sheet lines with wax paper, and put in the freezer for five minutes before assembling. If any become sticky again - just stick back into the freezer for a little 'time out.' Don't be afraid to tell that prosciutto who's boss!
Up next: Baked Artichoke Dip with Home-made Garlic Crostini