Wednesday, December 30, 2009

a quick nibble

When I was growing up, we always stayed home on New Year’s Eve. My mom would drape curls of ribbon over the brass chandelier above the kitchen table, all evening long we would watch TV and nibble on crackers and dips out of a silver and crystal lazy susan that my parents must have received as a wedding present back in the sixties. I remember lots of Triscuits and Wheat Thins, and a clam dip for my dad, and a so-called “tuna pate,” some amalgam of canned tuna, cream cheese, and Worcestershire sauce that surely wouldn’t pass culinary muster today but was my absolute favorite then.

This all sounds—and is—hopelessly dorky, but my parents were pretty strict, especially when it came to mealtimes, so having nibbles instead of dinner always seemed incredibly festive and, from my childhood perspective, sophisticated.

So I'm pretty excited that this is what we'll be doing this New Year's Eve. Monkey's aunt and uncle and cousin will come over in the afternoon and we won't worry about a proper dinner, we'll just nibble on a bunch of tasty little appetizers. Sure, the party will end at 7:30 or when the girls turn into pumpkins--whichever comes first--but it's a lot better than nothing (and these days, nothing is pretty much the alternative).

Here's one of the dishes that I plan to contribute to our gathering. It doesn’t have much to do with seasonal or local fare, but I figured I’d share it because it’s dead easy—basically just goat cheese with some chipotle mashed in--and it always gets raves.

I love the flavor of chipotle chilies, but every time I open a can of chipotles en adobo they either get moldy in the fridge or freezer-burn in the freezer. I’ve recently discovered that chipotle powder plus a little tomato paste (from a tube, which lasts forever in the fridge) is a good substitute. To give the dip a bit of texture, this time I added a few chopped piquillo peppers.

The quantities in the recipe below are approximate—just add a glop of this and a squirt of that and stir it together until you’ve reached a good taste and consistency.

Chipotle-Chevre Dip or Spread

This recipe will be even easier if you remember to leave the chevre out to soften a bit before you mix everything together.

1 5-oz log chevre
1/4-1/2 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp sour cream or crème fraiche (I think yogurt would work too--basically, you just need something creamy to mix in and make the cheese a little more spreadable)
2 or 3 roasted piquillo peppers, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. That's it.


Mad said...

LOVE! I often have a few chipotles en adobo left after making chili, and yes, they always get tossed. Chipotle powder + tomato paste is a brilliant substitution, thank you. And with goat cheese? Mmmmmm. So glad you are blogging again. Happy new year to you all!

S. said...

Hey, thanks so much, on all counts! Glad that was a helpful tip. And a very happy new year to you all as well!