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Archive for the ‘Peppers’ Category

Okay, so if this photo is looking familiar to you…congratulations!  You don’t have short-term memory loss!  The end.

I kid (well, not really about the memory loss thing, so if you got a little self-esteem boost from that, I’m letting you keep it).  If this photo looks familiar to you, it’s because I posted it last Friday, for Friday Food Porn.

The Boy eats this stuff with a spoon in front of the TV…you know, ’cause he’s hardcore.  I’m almost as hardcore…as I mentioned last week, I occasionally put out a jar of this stuff with a bag of tortilla chips and a blender of margaritas and call it dinner.

Which is totally acceptable, by the way, because Kate said so.  See?:

“Well, ummmm, sometimes you just need a Tortilla Chip and Margarita dinner. Here is an enabling moment – make some lacto fermented salsa and then you can feel downright righteous about them!

Kate just gets me, people.  Virtual pair of projectile fishnets slingshotted in Kate’s direction.  Which is what I do for people I like.  I throw my intimate apparel at them.  Naturally.

But there was another interesting comment in the mix.  Misfit jamaica-momma said:

“looks DIVINE!!!
recipe please??? & is there a way to veganize it?”

You know you cute lil’ misfits get anything you want out of me.  I CAN’T say no.

Truth is, you don’t need starter culture (whey) at all to make lacto-fermented pickles.  You can just add a little extra salt to speed things along, and then let lactic acid fermentation and healthy bacteria take their natural course.  It will take longer to pickle your food without the head start, but it works just the same.  A second option is using a vegetable starter culture instead of whey.  You can buy that here.

So what have we learned here today?  The BMG likes to put some spice in your life.  Also, I throw my underthings at people.  Oh, AS IF you’re surprised.

Lacto-Fermented Escabeche
Makes 3 quarts

Go Get:

6 jalapeno peppers, cut into thick slices (dial this number down if you don’t like spicy–as is, the recipe makes a medium-to-hot escabeche)
6 Tablespoons whey from drained yogurt (if you’re vegan or prefer not to use a dairy culture, try this vegetable starter culture. If you omit starter cultures entirely, up the salt and fermentation time.)
5 1/3 cups bite-size cauliflower florets
1 1/2 Tablespoons salt (if you’re not using whey or starter culture, increase this to 2 1/2 Tablespoons)
1 1/2 Tablespoons black peppercorns
2 heaping teaspoons dried oregano
1 large white onion, sliced thinly
5 cloves garlic, minced
6 large carrots, sliced into wheels

Go Do:

Toss all ingredients (except whey) together in a large bowl.  Allow everything to sit and “sweat” for a few minutes.  Now pack the veggies tightly into the jars and pour in 2 Tablespoons of whey per jar.  Top up the mixture with filtered water to cover.  Now place open Ziploc bags over the jars (open side up), and fill them with enough water to weigh the veggies down and keep them submerged.  When you have that right, seal the bags, cover the jars loosely with a towel, and let sit in a dark, room-temperature location.  Check the escabeche for sourness and texture daily–the carrots should still be snappy.  My escabeche is usually perfect after about 1 week, but your results will differ based on temperature and environment–if you’re not using any whey or starter culture at all, it will take longer.  Once it’s perfect, refrigerate the batch to slow fermentation and enjoy!  It’ll keep for about a year, and usually longer.

Note: If a little mold develops on top, don’t worry–this is normal.  Just skim it off, rinse and replace the bag, and keep fermenting.

Another note: When I want the flexibility of varying heat levels, I put varying amounts of jalapeno slices in each jar.  Then I label them accordingly: “Mild,” “Medium,” and “Oh Dear GOD.”

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**Psst!  I’ve since posted the recipe for this here.**

Spicy pickled escabeche, just like the kind you’d find on the tables at authentic taquerias.  Only this one is lacto-fermented, so it packs a sour, probiotic punch.

Shockingly addictive, and it also makes BMG feel pretty a-okay about tortilla chip and margarita dinners.

As if a sense of propriety were standing in my way?

PLEASE.

Happy weekend, misfits!

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Some misfits think they need a super-productive garden to make canning possible or worthwhile.  Not so, my spicy little dumplings, not so!  At least, not with pepper jelly.  Just a few cups of chopped peppers is enough to make a baker’s dozen of pepper jelly half-pints.

Now these half-pints are different from the half-pints that your Bad Mama Genny normally enjoys around here because they will not get you drunk and they do not possess bubbles.  If you’re doing it right, that is.  (Pepper jelly that gets you drunk is probably dangerous.  And a lot of fun.  But dangerous.  But, you know, still fun.)  But in any case, pepper jelly half-pints are still joyful half-pints indeed.

In fact, they got me so excited that I had to go play with those little fake baby bottles for dolls that you turn upside down and the orange juice and milk disappear and make it look like Baby drank it.

They’re very soothing.

So how would a misfit use pepper jelly?

I’m glad you asked!

Eat it with cream cheese or goat cheese and crackers, stir it into a sweet and spicy stir fry, baste grilled meats and sausages with it, make a totally different kind of PB & J or grilled cheese with it, melt it down and use it as the base for a KAH-razy cocktail, put it on a cheese plate alongside these pickled grapes, stir some into deviled egg filling, put it in tuna or chicken salad, load it into your kids’ water guns for playtime with higher stakes, bring it to parties, give it as gifts, mail it to other misfits…

BUT NO SEX PLAY.

Y’all hear me?  Pepper jelly is not for sex pla–

NO!  Bad misfits!  BAD!

No sex play.

A public service announcement from Bad Mama Genny.

Movin’ on.

(No sex play.)

Sweet and Hot Pepper Jelly (No sex play)
Makes 13 half-pints (if it’s too annoying to buy an extra 12-pack for a thirteenth jar you may not need, just plan on putting the extra in a cup or bowl for eating right away)

Go Get:
2 1/2 total cups minced sweet and hot peppers (for medium heat, I used 6 large jalapenos, no seeds or membranes, and the rest sweet peppers) (The mincing is best done in a food processor, once you’ve done the bare minimum at chopping and de-seeding them while wearing gloves or little plastic baggies on your hands)
12 cups sugar
3 cups white vinegar
1 cup liquid pectin, somewhere around 2 and a half pouches
6 drops green food coloring, optional

Go Do:
Get your jars heating and sterilizing–the dishwasher is ideal for this.  And start your boiling hot water bath in a large canning pot on the stove.

Okay, now:

Mix the peppers, sugar, and vinegar in a large pot (Dutch Oven size is just right).

Turn the heat to high and stir occasionally until the mixture comes to a full boil and sugar is dissolved.  Don’t breathe in the vinegar/pepper vapors if you can help it.  They are a perfect storm of pain and suffering.
Remove it from the heat, give it another stir, and add the pectin.  Now is when you’ll add the food coloring, if you’re using it.  You totally don’t have to.  I considered not, but the jam was a sickly yellowish color that, frankly, made me think of plasma in a jar.  In went the food coloring.

Now ladle it into those hot and ready jars (what?) and leave about half an inch of headspace.  Tap the jars onto the table to bring any air bubbles to the surface, where you can pop them with a wooden chopstick or something.

Put on the lids, screw the rings on just a wittle tight, and process them in the canner for 10 minutes (you may have to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your canner).  Let ’em sit for a day before putting them in your pantry, and I’d say give ’em two weeks before eating to let the pepper flavor really permeate.  But NO SEX PLAY!

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Why this photo?  Because happy vegetables make delicious salsa.

And also because the neighbors didn’t seem alarmed enough yet.

Anybody plant one little tomatillo plant and end up with bushels of fruit?  No?  How about you CSA subscribers?  Did you open your box this week only to be buried under 3 feet of little green paper lanterns?  No?

Okay, fine.  Well, any misfits out there like salsa verde?  Is that a good enough reason for you to read this, then?

Is it?!

IS IT?!

I have a compulsive need for approval.  I’m working on it. In the meantime you’ll just have to placate me.  I mean, if that’s okay with you.

A few weeks ago, The Boy and I attended the Chicago Beer Society’s annual picnic so he could show his support for his newest beer-related membership, eat and drink to excess, and have an excuse to make multiple kinds of potato salad (Kalamata Olive, and Hot Pepper Ranch).  What with a chili cookoff, a rib cookoff, an “other meats” cookoff (not as suspicious as it sounds, promise.  Okay, slightly suspicious.  Shut up, that pate was amaaaaaazing.  But it wasn’t, interestingly enough, “cooked off.”  Ooh, totally suspicious now.), a salsa competition, and 16 self-serve kegs of local craft brew, I don’t think I need to tell you how completely awesomesauce it was.

What I do need to tell you is that 16 self-serve kegs of local craft brew is a GREAT way to sell t-shirts that say “Chicago Beer Society” to people who aren’t even members of the Chicago Beer Society.  I won’t tell you whom.

I don’t want to name names.

Wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone.

Anyhoo, as I stood in the salsa line and surveyed my options, a revelation came over me.  Actually, what the hell, let’s call it an epiphany.  A life-changing, zesty, sweat-inducing epiphany.  I scanned crocks and bowls of various shapes and sizes, some containing chunky concoctions, some smooth, some with mango, some with cilantro, some that looked suspiciously like Pace Picante–

–friends, clearly the word of the day is “suspicious;” just puttin’ that out there.  Didn’t think we could ignore the truth any longer–

–and some that were so hot they were practically melting the Tupperware they came in.  But I wasn’t having any of it, folks.  ‘Cause most of them were red!  (Commie connotations aside.)

Now don’t get me wrong.  I like me a red salsa.  But oh.  Oh.  OH.  That green stuff is where my heart is.

That green stuff is where my heart is.  I must say that at least 80 times a day.

Enough time passed, and eventually 2 or 3 green salsas made it to the table.  And they were decent.  Good, even.  Not suspicious at all.  But I longed for the day when I could make my own salsa verde.  When some beautiful tomatillos would show up on MY doorstep, and then I could make my OWN salsa, and take pictures of MY salsa, and give you a recipe for said SALSA, and then I’d show EVERYBODY!

That’s right, I’ll show EVERYBODY.

All of them.  Whoever they are.

But there weren’t any decent tomatillos to be found.  None in a convenient two-block radius, at least.  Hey, I never said I was willing to go the extra mile for this salsa.  Just the extra two blocks.  So I commenced waiting…

Waiting…

Lurking…

More suspicious Lurking…

Waiting…

Until finally I was able to nab some fresh, locally grown, organic tomatillos.  Pretty convenient, actually–showed up in a kit with my CSA delivery, complete with a recipe that I didn’t end up using, since I already had one that was, oddly, pretty close to that one.

Anyhow.  Tomatillos.  Nom nom nom.  Actually, more like nom, ow, nom, eww, nom, spit.  ‘Cause tomatillos are hard little buggers that take a little softening up to bring out their delicious side.  A little cajoling.  A little persuading.  A little…something special.

Alright, so you dump in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, ‘kay?  Goooosh!

Let’s talk salsa.

We had this on steak last night.

Steak Before <cue sad trumpet noise that signals disappointment>:

Steak After <cue triumphant trumpeting>:

Whoah, yeah!  That steak is one prime suspect!  The crime?  Severe deliciousness!

It’s also great with chips, on burritos or enchiladas verdes (ooh, idea!  idea!), stirred into guacamole, or, oh hellz bellz, on eggs in the morning.  If I know The Boy, and I think I do, he’s going to come home from work (aka, that place that takes him away from me and causes me to cry and then actually get some work done and then cry some more) and stir this green heaven into vegetable juice for a spicy Bloody Mary.  He’s a genius, that there The Boy.

And not even a bit suspicious.

The Suspicious Salsa Verde to End All Suspicious Salsa Verdes (It’s the word of the day, guys, I kinda hafta take this all the way)

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Suspicious Ingredients:

10 to 12 tomatillos, suspicious, of varying sizes, peeled
2 teeny suspicious-looking onions, peeled
1 small bunch cilantro leaves (suspicious)
3 cloves garlic (I suspect them…of making this salsa awesome! Oh ho ho!)
1/2 jalapeno, with seeds (this makes a solid medium heat salsa; use more or less, or leave out the seeds, depending on your preferences); the jalapeno isn’t suspicious.  It’s just flat out diabolical.
1/2 T. lime juice (not so suspicious)
salt to taste (I used about 1 tsp.) (suspicions abound!)
freshly ground black pepper (I used about 1/4 tsp.) (SUSPICIOUS!)
Suspicious Directions:

Gather your ingredients. Hey, everybody know what time it is?

Tool Time!

Wait, wait, wait…that’s not right.

Tomatillo Time!

Yes, I do realize there are only 10 tomatillos on my clock.  Tomatillo time knows no numeric restrictions.  It knows no rules.  It only knows what the heart wants.  And the heart wants what the heart wants.  And the heart wants salsa verde.

“Hey, guys!  Can we join?!”

“Group huddle!”

“Should we let the outsiders join our tomatillo party?”

“They’re clearly not tomatillos.”

“Come on, Frank, don’t be such a jerk.  They probably have booze.”

“We don’t need their booze.  And we don’t need them!  WE DON’T NEED ANYBODY!”

“Frank…”

“<sigh>…Okay, fine.”

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Tong the tomatillos (yes, I did just use tong as a verb), into the water and let ’em cook until they’re just a bit softened–it took about 6 minutes for me.  Tong them (there I go again!) into a bowl and allow to cool slightly.

Throw all the ingredients except the salt and pepper into a food processor and give it a good whir.  Now, some people like to leave their salsa verde chunky–I prefer mine to be a bit runnier than that, with a coarse, jelly-like texture.

Process your salsa accordingly.  Now throw in a bit of salt and pepper to taste and pulse the processor two or three times to incorporate it really well.

You can enjoy this right away, or let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight before using.  Personally, I’m a fan of letting all those flavors sit and meld together.  But if you can’t wait, don’t beat yourself up about it.  I’ve been there, my misfits.  Oh, have I ever been there.

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Wanna know what I did on my summer vacation?  Besides drive myself and everyone else batty?  And tweet too much?  Well, I’ll tell you.  I…

Visited a beautiful farmhouse B&B set on a five-acre organic farm in Wisconsin.  Then I wrote it up for an article.

Celebrated my un-burfday with my twin brother, Johnny.  Being born on Christmas could have sucked royally.  Thankfully, my family applied the same logic to birthdays as they do to shopping furniture sales–Christmas in July is never a bad thing.  What you see there is my birthday dessert of choice–a banana cream pie from the always-nommiful Hoosier Mama Pie Company in Chicago’s bohemian West Town neighborhood.  Better pie I have not found.  And believe me, I’ve looked all around.

Did you notice that rhymed?  I worked hard on that.

I’m also going to take this opportunity to offer a shoutout to The Brother, Johnny.  You’re one cool dude, Johnny.  If Bad Mama Genny has to share a birthday with someone, she’s glad it’s you.  ‘Cause frankly, you’ve put up with a lot of shite over the years.  I’m sorry about that one time with the thing.  And that other time, with that other thing.  And though I’m sure it scarred you for life, the incident with that third thing, that was really hilarious to me at the time, but which I’m sure was annoying as hell at the time said thing occurred.

Uh, love you!

Made an extremely popular, mostly-natural version of those cream-filled Hostess cupcakes for one of my many un-burfday parties.  What?  Look, if it’s just a birthday, maybe you only have one party, but this was an un-BURFday party, ‘kay?

Don’t hate.

Notice the “g” hidden in the swirl.

Blew up an obscene number of balloons for said un-burfday party.  Walked through, bodysurfed over, and danced around them for two days.  Vowed to fill my apartment with balloons and live that way year-round.  Carefully migrated the balloons down two flights of curving stairs and into the backyard for the un-burfday party.  Watched them all pop systematically as soon as the vicious heat expanded their gases enough to push them past their limit.  Cried a little.  Jumped into The Boy’s arms and screamed every time one bit the dust.

I also scream every time that timer thingy from Scattergories goes off at the end of the thinking time.  Every time.  Does not fail.  Hey, guys, wanna play Scattergories with me again?

No?

Ya’ sure?

They must be intimidated by my brilliance.

Carefully migrated every refrigerator magnet, including the magnetic poetry, from the old fridge into a plastic bag.  Then put them up, one by one, on the new refrigerator.  Which, by the way, bit the dust one month after purchase SO HOLY HELL I HAD TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN.  Onto a third fridge.

I think there’s a circle of hell where all you do is migrate magnetic poetry from fridge to fridge.  And now that I think about it, that’s probably the circle of hell I’ll inhabit one day.  Magnetic poetic justice.

What’s that, dearest mommy?  You didn’t think I was going to hell?  Well, I am.  Apparently, it’s all part of selling your soul to Satan.  But I’ve talked it over with Jesus, and he knows it’s nothing personal, and he promised not to take it out on you.  So I’m sure you’ll still get that pineapple whipped cream room when you die, like you’ve always wanted.

Glad we had this talk.

Took bizarrely-lit nighttime photos of my cucumber bounty before I turned it into pickles.

Yep.  We made pickle spears, smaller pickle spears (out of the white cucumbers), and bread and butter slices (from extra lemon cucumbers).  I dunno about you, but I’m not a huge fan of sweet pickles.

Actually, that’s an understatement.  I LOATHE SWEET PICKLES.  So when I’m in my magnetic poetry circle of hell, I’m sure someone will be force-feeding me sweet pickles.  DAMMIT!

Ooh, look, finally a natural light photo.  Took me long enough.  Pickles, pickles, pickles!

!!!!

Made brandied cherries…aren’t they pretty?  And I love that vintage pink jar (thrift shop!).  You don’t even need a recipe, but here’s one that’s sorta close to my method.  By the way…these things’ll knock your socks off.  Put ’em on a cocktail, top a sundae with ’em, or just sit on the couch armed with a jar of these and your cherry-pickin’ fingers.  Just know that they’re strong.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you stand up to put ’em back in the fridge and Charlie the Unicorn invites you dance with him to the greatest hits of Pink Floyd while you search for his missing kidneys.

Made some kickass chicken thighs.  Very good recipe, by the way.  The Boy died in my arms tonight when I made them.  Then he unmelted and asked for seconds.

And by golly, any chicken thighs that can melt and unmelt a man with as much structural integrity as The Boy is A-OK in my book.  A-OK, I tell you.

Harvested every one of these little Parisian round carrots from a little spot in back of the old apartment that my landlady so kindly allowed me to borrow.  I couldn’t bear to leave them behind, so just know that some of them are a little undergrown.  At an inch to an inch and a half per plant, they’re not the most efficient use of space, but you know what they are?  Cute.  Very, very cute.  And probably a great addition to a garden-themed dinner party’s appetizer spread.  Ooh, note to self: garden-themed dinner party.  Wanna grow these yourself?  Ask and you shall receive, my sweet poppets.  Sweet, sweet misfit poppets.

Sweet, sweet, sweet misfit poppets.

Too much?  Chill out–there will be no eating of your liver with fava beans a nice chianti, okay?  Not today.  Here’s the link.

Took unfocused, sideways shots of unwashed produce and didn’t bother to reorient them before posting them here.  It’s just who I am these days.

Celebrated my mom and aunt’s actual, for real birthday!  Like, it wasn’t even an un-burfday!  They’re also twins, but they’re for really real twins.  Not that Johnny and I aren’t for really real twins.  But we’re fraternal.  And we don’t have a mind-reading thingy going on.  My mom and aunt are identical twins, and they do have a mind-reading thingy going on.  Wanna know what kind of cake this is?  Yellow, with pineapple and whipped cream filling.  And, oh my, look how this blog post has come full circle; suddenly I’m filled with a feeling of oneness and harmony.

Moving on.

Tried to figure out what happened to make my eggplants change color and stop producing.  The answer is me.  I happened.  By neglecting to fertilize my eggplants for a two month stretch while I moved my earthly possessions from one plot to another, I happened to my eggplants.  And they weren’t happy with the happening that happened.  But I’ll be better next year, lil’ eggplanties, ‘kay?  I’ll also plant a billion more, since aside from the happening that happened to them, they were beautiful and productive and beautiful and problem-free and beautiful.

May I remind you of a fabulously delicious way to use prepare eggplant?  Besides the eggplant parmigiana thing that everyone knows about and has done a thousand times?  And baba ghanoush?  Here you are. She’s my all-time favorite food blogger.  And I hear she’s also absolutely stunning in person.  True story.

Found my old favorite gym shirt!  From back when I used to go to the gym.  When dinosaurs roamed the earth.

In case you’re too damn lazy to read this backwards, it reads “Asthma is Sexy!”  Note the striking background silhouette of a man using an inhaler.  I’ve now made a promise.  A life changing promise.  To myself.  To never go to the gym again.  Oh, and another promise.  That every time I use my inhaler, I will strike a sexy, dramatic pose like that one.  To propogate the notion of asthma’s sexiness.

So what have we learned today?

Well, I’ll tell you what we’ve learned.

One, I am now on a personal crusade to erase guilt from my life by legitimizing all my actions.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Two, other stuff.

Three, I’m pretty lazy when it comes to wrap-ups of what we’ve learned.  It’s just who I am these days.

See you soon, my precious babies!  Precious, precious, babies.

Precious, precious, precious misfit babies.

Am I doing it again?  Sorry.

It’s just who I am these days.

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Folks, I’m going to be brutally honest with you.  Your Bad Mama Genny just hasn’t had the time or the inclination to impress anyone lately.

Firstly because I’ve been really busy, what with deadlines and watering the jungle and attending the National Homebrewer’s Conference with The Boy.  But also because impressing people can be problematic.  It can raise expectations.  It can set the bar too high.

It can result in people expecting you to be decent.

And who wants that?  Then when you decide to be indecent, people are all shocked and all offended and all put your pants back on and oh think of the children and whatnot.

See what I mean?  Totally not cool.

That’s why you need a good Antipasti Platter like this one in your arsenal.  Because if you’re anything like me, which for your sake I hope you’re not but let’s pretend, you’ve already been invited to at least fifty barbecues this summer and half of them fall on the same weekend.

That’s not good.  That’s not good for anyone.

Least of all people of the pale persuasion, like myself.  But the point is, you’re usually expected to bring something to said barbecue, and not having enough time to make something from scratch can render one sad, depressed, listless, and prone to alternating crying jags and fits of mania.

This just in: The Boy has informed me that neither fits of mania nor crying jags are verifiable symptoms of being invited to barbecues.  Thanks, The Boy.  I so appreciate your contribution to this blog post.  I hope that knowledge gives you peace as you sleep on the couch tonight.

Anyway, Antipasti platters, in case you haven’t noticed, are gorgeous.  They can also theoretically be constructed from all store-bought ingredients.  Granted, I threw a loaf of from-scratch baked artisan bread in with mine, but bread-baking is like breathing to me now, and WHAT NOW YOU DON’T WANT ME TO BREATHE I DO SO MUCH FOR YOU AND SLAVE AWAY AT THIS KEYBOARD AND NOW YOU CRITICIZE MY BREAD-BAKING ADDICTION HOW ABOUT I CRITICIZE YOUR ADDICTIONS HUH HOW ABOUT I MENTION THE LITTLE DEBBIES HIDDEN IN YOUR JUNK DRAWER OH WHAT’S THAT YOU DON’T WANT TO CRITICIZE ME ANYMORE THAT’S NICE I THOUGHT SO.

What in the hell was I saying?

Oh, yeah.  So you could throw in a loaf of fancy schmancy bread and some dipping oil with this here Antipasti Platter, but some nice skinny breadsticks from the grocery store would do just as well.  I also included some homemade arugula pesto butter, fresh apricot preserves, and some homemade ricotta, which is always inexplicably appearing at the back of my refrigerator (I said, INEXPLICABLY, and I meant, INEXPLICABLY).

But let’s get down to business, shall we?  Here are my suggestions for an appetizer that will have everyone stuffing their faces while simultaneously not raising their expectations of you.  Wanna send them over the moon?  Bring a nice, juicy, full-bodied red wine to serve with this.

But they might start expecting things.  I’m just warning you.

Antipasti Platter

Go Get:
Pepperoncini
Fresh Mozzarella Balls (either marinated or not, up to you)
Thinly sliced prosciutto
Marinated and quartered artichoke hearts
Roasted red peppers, marinated or not
Mixed marinated olives (I like to use kalamatas and stuffed green Spanish olives, but you feel free to go nuts)
Thinly sliced salami
Cubed provolone
Other options not pictured here:
Additional hams and sausages such as serrano, chorizo, etc.
Pickled cornichons
Sundried tomatoes
Infused olive oils
Roasted and mashed garlic cloves
Some nice pesto
Those apricot preserves I talked about
That fresh, homemade ricotta cheese I mentioned
Those delicious breadsticks, or that crusty home-baked artisan bread I noted
Some thin shavings of aged parmesan
Small cubes of a sweet melon, such as cantaloupe
Your firstborn child (Just kidding.  Mostly.)

Go Do:
Arrange this bad boy however you like.  As you can see, I used a decorative 13 x 9 dish with the ingredients arranged in rows, but a large, round serving platter with ingredients lined up in concentric circles or pie wedges would be striking as well.  Butters, oils, and soft cheeses can take up residence in ramekins that you smush onto the plate.  Breadsticks look striking in a tall glass, and a fresh loaf of bread would be just dandy in a kitchen towel set in a basket.

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