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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Cocktail Hour

A favorite time for my husband and I during a work week would be that time we arrive home and just before dinner.  No specific hour actually, because it all depends on the traffic going home.  Ideally however, it'll be that "witching" hour of just before 6 in the evening, when the sun is blood orange and the air is cooler and just maybe, a promise of a drizzle, but not quite forthcoming.

Well, that's the beauty of living in the mountains - with a scenic route going home, we got to realize that we've graduated from having to slosh with strangers in bars for our quick fix of favorite poison and some munchies.  We have the mountains at our feet and the sky up above, and in between, well.., our table of appetizers and maybe a kir royale, if we have the ingredients in stock.

Cheese Sticks with a twist

This was a staple in the '80s among the college crowd having a party.  But this time we added jalapenos to add some kick.

1 pack lumpia (spring roll) wrapper, small size
cheddar cheese sliced into 20 or so thick matchsticks
   alternatively, you can use cream cheese
preserved jalapeno peppers, sliced
a small bowl with water
For the Dip:
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
1/4-1/3 cup light mayonnaise
ground pepper, paprika (optional)

1.  Separate spring roll wrapper from each other, and put one wrapper flat on a plate.  Place one cheese matchstick near the bottom end of the wrapper, leaving a space around 1/4 in. from the rim.
2.  Place jalapeno slices on top of the cheese matchsticks. The number would depend on taste.  Fold the flap over the cheese and dip finger in the bowl of water to moisten the left and right folds of the wrapper. 
3.  Roll the wrapper til just before reaching the top end rim.  Moisten this portion once again with water to secure.  Repeat with remaining wrapper and cheese matchsticks.
4.  Heat 1/4 cup oil in a small saucepan and fry the cheese sticks in batches until wrapper is golden brown in color.  Place on a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.  Transfer to a separate dish.
5.  To make dip:  Mix together ketchup, mayonnaise and ground pepper (if using) until well blended.  Place in a deep saucer to serve.  Sprinkle paprika (if using) on top and serve with the cheese sticks.

Ideas for other appetizers:  Sliced prosciutto with or without melon, sliced salami, french fries, assorted cheeses like brie, tilsit, manchego, or just buy mini BabyBel Cheese rounds available in dairy sections of most supermarkets, and let your companions unwrap these themselves.

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