By Brian L Lichorowic
Is it me or do people always serve pretty peculiar creations around the dark days of winter. Seems so to me…
I try everything put before me.
I guess it my upbringing in general, if someone took the time to make it, I’ll try it, and give an honest opinion to boot. Every year though, There’s always the conundrum. I’ll put something in my mouth that just makes me wince and, because I’m stupid, I’ll go back and get another one expecting a different end result. Every year something new creeps onto the buffet table. This year’s winner was my Mom’s neighbor, Francine, down in Florida, who proudly put out a tray of “French Cocktail Prunes” These “were” normal prunes, stuffed with (and I kid you not. I have witnesses) oysters, anchovies, bacon, artichokes and onions.
At least that’s all I could make out with my stupefied palette.
Francine’s a nice 80 years young lady, claims proudly it was a 50 year family secret and “I’ll die before I tell you the recipe !!”. To which I thought to myself “ Yea, I’d keep it a secret too.”
I thought of doing my part and “whacking” her just to stop the noxious cycle.
But, I ate it…with a smile and then the masochistic side of me goes back and has a 3rd just because I still can’t believe that what I just tasted. My wife Debi says “Don’t say a word, write about it…” So, I decided to write about it, so I had to go eat a 4th one of these Prune jewels so I could try and covey the ingredients.
I find that people, for the most part, put out their finest fare forward during these dark days parties. Particularly in the appetizer department. People have coveted recipes that have been tweaked to their (and our) liking. Why they only come out this time of year I don’t know. In my family, food is celebrated all year long, season to season. But I see the old yellow pages pf paper torn out of a 30 year old Better Home & Gardens with hand written notes all over it. These are the gems I search for during the silly season.
Honey Figs with Goat Cheese rolled in Pecans
1 Cup ROUGHLY Chopped Pecans
1 6 oz Log of a good goat Cheese
12 Fresh Figs either Black mission Calimyrna qtr’ed
1/2 cup Tupelo Honey (naturally an hone will work but there is a difference when you use Tupelo for browning or caramelizing. Remember that.
Let the Goat cheese get close to room temperature.
Chop the pecans so they’re fairly uneven in size and have few rough spots
Melt a dab of butter in a non-stick frying pan large enough so that the pecans spread across the entire bottom of the pan. Add the honey bring to a bubble let brown, remove form heat and spread across the piece of wax paper.
Roll the cheese log around in the pecans till covered use your fingers if you have to. Press the pecans into the cheese to make sure it covered well.
Refrigerate log until firm. Then cut into 1/2” slices.
Place the cheese on a small plate and add a couple pieces of the fig on top. Pour a couple of tablespoons of the honey over the fig and cheese.
Caramelized Pear, Leek and Brie Tart
Food combining in something that has to be learnt. Just ask Francine. But certain combinations just don’t jive with our mental palates. So you have to try things. Better yet you have to get someone else to make it so you can try it. My apologies for the long recipe but it worth trouble I had to bribe a chef for the recipe. I want to print it verbatim from the email. It is worth the work.
3 bosh pears, peeled, cored and diced 1/2″
3 lg leeks, cleaned, sliced 1/4″
4 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/2 lb brie cheese. Rind removed
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp white pepper, freshly ground
9″ partially cooked tart shell of pate brisée
Pate brisée —-
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, cubed
4-5 Tbsp chilled water (as needed)
1/4 tsp sea salt
Heat 2 Tbsp of oil in a sauté pan. Sauté pears at high heat until golden brown (be mindful that the pears will burn very easily). Remove from pan and set aside. Heat the remaining oil in a clean pan and sauté leeks over a med heat until translucent. Combine pears, leeks, half of the pinenuts, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg in a bowl. Fill tart shell and top with remaining pinenuts. Dot top of tart with all of the brie cheese. Place in 350° f oven until cheese has melted through. Serve warm or at room temp. Yield: 6 servings.
In a bowl combine flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in butter until it is broken up into very sm beads. Add water until just incorporated. Form dough into a ball and knead on a floured board just until it is uniform. Wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. On a lightly floured board roll out dough to 1/8″ thick and a 12″-13″ circle. Place in tart shell and form it to the side. Prick sides and bottom of crust, line with parchment and fill with dried beans or pastry pellets. Place on a sheet pan and bake in a preheated 400° f oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove parchment and beans after 10-15 min. and bake so that it cooked with just a hint of color. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
The title sounds kind of odious doesn’t it? An old neighbor made them for my wife and I one winter evening years ago and gave us the recipe. Since then, when Debi’s made them her own and serves them to many a request. Crabbies always seem to take away from the dinner I’m preparing. Nothing like cooking for 4 hours serving the entree, then having guests ask during the meal “Got any of those Crabbies left?” . After much reflection, I take it as a compliment. So to all our friends who attended our partys’ , which these are staple at, or dropped by our home for supper,
here; make your own.
1 small package Thomas’ English Muffins
1 stick salted butter, room temperature
2 tbl mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbl fresh parsley, chopped
1 small jar Old English Cheese Spread
1 small can backfin crabmeat
Fold ingredients together. Spread on muffins and cut into quarters. Bake at
400 degrees oven for 8-10 minutes or until brown and bubbly.
Serve immediately or place on foil pan, wrap for freezer. Take out frozen and bake 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees until brown and bubbly. They freeze beautifully.
Comment or catastrophes (or if you have another prune recipe)