Thursday, September 4, 2008

My Name Is Glutton

I find that when it comes to party guests, there are three general types of people. The first and least interesting is the mingler. This is the person that is actually at the party to schmooze, and while that may be the point of a party for some people, to me mingling is the least of my worries. This type of guest is only interested in making connections and tends to bore me to tears. The second and slightly more lively type of guest is the boozer. This person can always be found in the general vicinity of the bar, is never without a drink, and is more often than not, double-fisting an assortment of free beverages. The boozer will get significantly more interesting over time and generally makes an excellent party companion.

I have, for years, been a card carrying member of the third type of guest, which I like to call the glutton. Armed with a killer smile and a napkin, the glutton can be seen firmly planted outside of the swinging doors that the party servers use to make their way into the party space. After all, when it comes to party food, it's all about location, location, location. Just ask those of us that find a way to remain beside the snack table for the duration of a party and manage to look as if we're mingling (although we're probably not fooling anyone). All these years of filling the role of the gluttonous guest have led me to love absolutely anything resembling an hors d'oeuvre.

From tuna tartare to fois gras on toast points, I have managed to spend the last few years completely ignoring the people at parties and focusing solely on the tiny, delectable dishes being served. That's why, when the temperature skyrocketed to a balmy 91 degrees after a few gloriously cool late summer nights, I got to thinking about making hors d'oeuvre. After all, I must be an expert after all of the research I've done on the subject (i.e. pigging out on free treats over the years). So, when I got home to a humid apartment after a sweaty walk from the office, I decided to keep things simple for dinner and take a page from my experience as a seasoned snack table dweller.

I had some lovely country bread left over from yesterday's pan tumaca, so I decided to make a refreshing and super easy artichoke spread. It was a completely no-cook dish, and all I needed was my food processor, microplane and a can opener. I combined a few of my favorite things with the artichokes (which were canned, unspiced), including some Manchego cheese, soft brie, pine nuts, lemon juice and zest, parsley and extra virgin olive oil. I topped the spread with leftover Serrano ham, arugula, a few pine nuts and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. It turned out the be a great light dinner, not to mention something I would definitely serve for the snack dwellers at my next party.

Artichoke Toast

1 15 oz can of artichokes (drained, artichokes cut into quarters)
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 cup grated Manchego cheese (you can use Parmesan in a pinch)
1/2 cup soft brie, rind removed (any soft, mild cheese will work)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves
extra virgin olive oil
Optional toppings: Arugula, Serrano ham, prosciutto

Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor. Slowly stream in olive oil while pulsing until mixture becomes thick and spreadable. Season with salt to taste and pulse mixture twice to combine. Serve on rustic style toast and top with grated Manchego, Serrano ham and arugula. Enjoy!


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