Remember that Polyester and Cheese party I eluded to on Friday? That was last night. I officially pass on the theme to you and strongly encourage you to host your own; hell, I’ll even forward you our invites to use (insert your own address, right?) if you want. Not only did it force otherwise very fashionable people to dig through their closets for their great-aunt’s Goldie Hawn circa Laugh-In dresses and uncle’s groovy Sgt. Pepper button-up shirts to wear (even if they’re two sizes too small, dammit); everyone brought cheese. Boy did they bring cheese. (Hey – meet Nik, Sharon and Pam!)
Besides the aforementioned Discovery Box, which we started with (oh, and a brie that I hastily topped with mango chutney and sliced almonds and forgot about in the oven for AN HOUR, which then turned into delicious soup) we had Saint Agur, Piave, Boursin, Morbier, cheddar marbled with Guinness, Juliette from Salt Spring Island and smoked and caraway Goudas. We got a bag of cheesy goodness packed with Cheezies, Cheese Nips, Cheese Goldfish, Laughing Cow, Swiss Knight triangles and microwaveable fondue. And yes, we got cheese slices and Velveeta. No Whiz, though, and apparently spray cheese is hard to find (whew).
Also: artichoke-asiago dip, a jiggly two-toned red and green Jell-O mould complete with mini marshmallows and whipped cream, topped with crushed candy canes (its own kind of Christmas cheese) and a crock of some kind of cheese spread from the 70s that had gin in it. C brought crunchy cheese cookies made with that brilliant orange Imperial cheese, butter and Rice Krispies. (Amazing how much better some things taste than they sound!), A brought spicy Parmesan crisps and Charlie made a cheese ball. His three-year-old helped distribute the pecans, by hand, one by one, over the outside, so that it looked like a perfect cheese hedgehog. (The flash photography and pickled asparagus foreground does it justice, no?) He shared this tip: if you’re looking for a recipe, Google “World’s Best” before it, as in “World’s Best Cheese Ball”. I did thus, and came up with what I believe to be the one he used. (The first had lemonade mix in it. World’s best? I think not.)
If I forgot something, I blame the cheese-induced brain fog. Guess what I’ve eaten today? Cheese, butter tart squares and crackers. This morning, W brought me breakfast in bed: cheesy goldfish, half-eaten cheese slices and what I think was chunks of Piave (street value: about $1 each bite) served in an Empire Strikes Back bowl. Yum. Coming downstairs to the leftovers was like an early Christmas morning – it took the edge off the clean-up.
I meant to label each cheese neatly as it came in the door; as you can imagine, that didn’t happen. My plan was kyboshed at about five minutes after the time on our invite, when the stereo died (%$#@!^%$#^$@!!) and I realized that my made-in-advance-and-frozen Raincoast Crisp logs were still in the freezer; I was so satisfied that I had made them well ahead of the party that I completely forgot to slice and bake them. Mike ran upstairs to quickly (ha) dump some Christmas tunes onto his MP3 so that we might have a bit of Ella, Bing, Frank, Dean, Sammy, Burl and Reverend Horton Heat at our party, and in my panic to bake off the crisps I think I completely forgot to offer anyone the mulled wine I had simmering on the stove. Ah well, more leftovers for me. When it’s 30 below outside not counting the wind chill factor, swimsuit season is mighty far away. Not that I wear swimsuits anyway. Let’s hear it for parka season!
(Lower-fat) Butter Tart Squares
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup honey, corn syrup or maple syrup
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup raisins or currants (if you want to be really authentic)
1/3 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a medium bowl, stir together the butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add flour and salt and stir until well combined and crumbly.
Press into the bottom of an 8” x 8” pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just barely golden around the edges.
Using the same bowl (no need to wash it), combine the brown sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, maple syrup and vanilla and stir until well blended and smooth. Stir in the raisins and pecans.
Pour over the base and return to the oven for 25–30 minutes, until golden and bubbly around the edges but still slightly jiggly in the middle. The topping will puff up a bit as it bakes and then settle again when you remove it from the oven. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Makes 16 squares.
Per square: 194 calories, 5.1 g fat (2.1 g saturated fat, 2 g monounsaturated fat, 0.6 g polyunsaturated fat), 36.2 g carbohydrates, 34.7 mg cholesterol, 2.2 g protein, 1 g fiber. 23% calories from fat
One Year Ago: Orange Almond Biscotti
December 13 2009 10:18 pm | cookies & squares