By Barbara Beltrami
Light years ago when I was a young homemaker whose weekly culinary adventure was dreaming up creative nibbles for Tuesday’s night bridge club, I would spend afternoons while the babies napped experimenting with concoctions from the magazine clippings I hoarded. Our card game was, in retrospect, not so much a game of bridge as one of our flaunting our newly acquired culinary talents, and any one of the young marrieds who belonged to that elite sorority of four would rather have died than be caught serving the same snack twice, much less a Tupperware bowl of potato chips.
How many dips I dreamed up for oven-warmed frozen potato puffs, how many combinations of sour cream and something I invented, how many slices of sandwich bread I trimmed and rolled and stuffed and sliced. Actually, I think I burned out early for I haven’t had as many good ideas, even given the food revolution that began in the 80’s or the advent of the internet since.
But now after a year of COVID isolation and quarantine and a few months of post-COVID immunization, our social life is getting back into gear and we’re inviting people over for drinks or dinner to get re-acquainted. In a burst of retro creativity and nostalgia, I find myself foraging through those yellowed files and pulling out the oldies but goodies (although I must confess I’ve tinkered with a few here and there).These many years hence, the thing that has really changed is that I’m the one who needs the nap.
Creamy Curry Dip
YIELD: Makes 8 to 10 servings
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Few dashes hot pepper sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients; cover and chill. Serve surrounded by cooked shrimp, bite size raw cauliflower florets, raw carrot sticks, raw celery sticks and any other crunchy veggie suitable for dipping.
Nutty Cheese Log
YIELD: Makes one large log or two small
6 ounces goat cheese
10 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
12 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup snipped chives
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
Soften cheeses to room temperature. In a medium bowl combine cheeses, onion and wine. Blend in half the parsley, chives and nuts; shape into a log, enclose in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Combine remaining herbs and nuts in a small container, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. One hour before serving spread reserved herbs and nuts on a sheet of waxed paper or cutting board and roll cheese log in them until it is well coated. Serve with crackers.
Hot Cheese Puffs
YIELD: Makes 12 pieces
3 slices sandwich bread
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
Remove crusts from bread; toast and cut into quarters. Preheat broiler. Beat egg whites until stiff; fold in baking powder, salt, cayenne, paprika and cheese. Spread mixture 1/4″ thick on each toast square; broil until browned, about 5 minutes. Serve with cocktails or wine