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Archive for the ‘Prosciutto’ Category

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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It struck me this week that I use food to mark time.  Take this exchange between The Boy and me, for instance:

BMG: “When did we mail that package to my family…was it before or after the beef stew?”
TB: “Hmm…don’t know about the beef stew…but it was after the Greek Pizza…and before the latkes…”

After a bit more of the same, we both became COMPLETELY AND INEXPLICABLY ravenous.

Ten minutes later, as I contemplatively chewed my High-Fiber Steel-Cut Oats with Extra Flax (ahaha, just kidding, it was a pot sticker), I thought about what that means, this condition whereby people mark the events of their lives by what they ate for dinner that night.   I realized that it’s really not just the final product that imprints itself on our minds and memories–it’s how we got there.

For example, I remember with alarming accuracy the sploosh that my last goat cheese pizza made when it hit the kitchen floor, even though I shouldn’t have been making dinner at all since I’d had an awful day at work but I was just trying to make things nice for us I WAS JUST TRYING TO MAKE THINGS NICE SO SHOOT ME FOR TRYING TO MAKE THINGS NICE.  I don’t remember how the pizza tasted because I don’t eat food that’s touched the floor because I have standards and people with standards don’t–okay, that was a fun game of pretend, anyhoo, the pizza was still pretty good.

Food is pretty consistent for me–it winds itself throughout my day as a kind of soundtrack.   Defrosting, marinating, chopping, steeping, wrapping…these are the activities that pepper my day at least as often as checking email, mending fishnets, engaging in primal screaming, and sending harassing and objectifying text messages to The Boy.

So really, it’s never just Beef Stew night…it’s more like Beef Stew day.  Which means two things about the cooking you do:

One, it had damn well better be fun (we always have fun when we cook, don’t we, misfits?)

And two, the emotional risk and reward have gone way up.  That pizza damaged my ego far more than if I had poorly reheated a can of…whatever comes in cans.  Right now all I can come up with is corned beef hash.  That comes in cans, right?  But if feels like it shouldn’t.

Well, anyway, you get what I’m saying.  So the joy that comes from a phenomenal success–well, that’s heightened as well.  So as exaggerated as it may sound, the life of one who cooks is full of highs and lows, isn’t it?  The lows often looking something like your Bad Mama Genny kneeling on the floor sobbing over a pizza puddle with her mouth full, intermittently screeching, “IT HASN’T BEEN TEN SECONDS YET!  IT HASN’T BEEN TEN SECONDS!”

So how about a recipe for Dairy-Free Garlic Mashed Potatoes?  Comforting food for those times when you need comfort.  Like when you’re a cheesy mess throwing a temper tantrum on the kitchen floor.  Just, uh, maybe let someone else handle the sharp knives and open flames, ‘kay?

Dairy-Free Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Makes 2-3 generous servings

Go Gather:
4 large potatoes
salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 3/4 cup almond milk (or soy, or rice, or moo…whatever works for you)
2 T. dairy-free spread of your choice, or butter (despite being a lactard, I can tolerate butter.  When you can tolerate butter, you should go for it)
2-3 teaspoons olive oil

Go Do:
Wash the potatoes and cut into small chunks (I don’t peel mine-I usually leave the skin in for flavor and nutrition). Put them in a saucepot with enough water to cover them by an inch, and turn the heat up to medium-high. Let them boil until they’re tender; remove from heat, drain, and cover.

Add the minced garlic, “milk,” and “butter” to the hot potato cubes. Use a large spoon or potato masher to smash the potatoes and incorporate the other ingredients. When it’s at the desired level of chunkiness (my desired level of chunkiness is CHUNKY), determine whether or not you’d like extra milk, and add salt and pepper to taste. When you’ve done this, drizzle a bit of olive oil over the potatoes and gently whip it in.

Now wipe away those tears, take a spoon to those potatoes, and get trashed.  You’ve earned it.

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