Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Happy Independence Day!
As a government student living in the birthplace of the American Revolution, one might be inclined to think that I'd be spending the day reflecting on the actions of our forefathers in this city 231 years ago, and how that laid the foundation for our nation as we know it today. At least, I thought I would....but no. Friends are here, and time with friends calls for GOOD FOOD!
Said friends are from Kansas, so what better treat than a seafood-infused menu, including some make-ahead items:
Crackers with chive-pineapple cheese and smoked salmon
Tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole
Assorted cookies (including remaining chocolate chip!)
The inspiration for the chive-pineapple cheese comes from several cheeseball recipes I've read. While I enjoy the flavor of cheeseballs, the consistency makes for awkward snacking. To facilitate the snacking-while-visiting, I've substituted whipped light cream cheese.
1/4 c. walnuts or pecans
16 oz. fresh pineapple plus 2 teaspoons sugar, or 8 oz. canned drained pineapple
8 oz. Whipped Light Cream Cheese
1/2 t. Tabasco
1/2 oz. fresh chives
1/2 c. Light Shredded 3-cheese blend or cheddar
Salt and Pepper to taste
4-6oz. Smoked Salmon
In a food processor or blender, pulse walnuts until ground, remove and set aside. If pineapple is not crushed, add to food processor and pulse until chunky. Add Cream Cheese and hot sauce, and pulse until mixed. Add chives, shredded cheese, salt, and pepper, and pulse until chives are chopped but not pureed. Fold in chopped nuts. Chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight, to allow flavors to mingle.
After the cheese has chilled, cut some smoked salmon into 2 by 1/2 inch rough rectangles. Spread a thin layer of the cheese on one side of the salmon, and roll up. Set one each on crackers. Save remaining cheese mixture to serve with a knife or spoon and untopped crackers.
When it comes to guacamole, the trend seems to be "the chunkier, the better". While that is a nice idea for sit-down meals, I don't like to worry about balancing delicate morsels of avocado and tomato on the point of a tortilla chip in a crowded setting. This recipe can go either way. So banish that seasoning packet, and follow this quick, easy recipe to fresh guacamole:
2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
2 plum tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 T. lime juice, or juice of two limes
1 t. lemon juice, or juice of 1/2 a lemon
Fresh Cilantro, salt, pepper, and cayenne, to taste
In a food processor, combine all ingredients. When well-blended and mostly smooth, you're done! For the chopped-style, simply chop the avocadoes and tomatoes into small cubes on a clean cutting board. Chop the cilantro. In a bowl, combine the juices, salt, and peppers. Add chopped avocadoes, tomatoes and cilantro to bowl. Cover with lid or plastic wrap, and toss gently to coat. Either way, allow to marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour prior to serving.
ETA: We went out to dinner, so I have no pics of "the spread"! We came back so full, that the snacks have become our lunches this week....oops!