Friday, April 15, 2005

Happy Tax Day!

There's nothing quite so... impacting... as tax day. We dread it, grumble about it, joke about its inevitability, and every year it returns to hover over us like a nosy co-worker reading your email or that crazy aunt who won't leave you alone until 'she gets her hug'. It's also that time of year when couples tend to fight.

I am a fortunate woman, dear reader, for my CameraMan and I are on our first season of taxes and did not fight one bit. We took our ridiculously complicated bundle to H&R Block where a bizarre little gnome of a man proceeded to tell us that we didn't really need to declare our Iowa revenue, as it was only $300 over the declaring limit and therefore irrelevant. He says this to an auditor. Right. So we had our giggle together at the expense of Gil, and did not feel the need to kill one another over a stray receipt or missing check.

This, sadly, is not the common reaction. And so, to promote world peace and good will toward men, I offer you this inexpensive, delicious appetizer that you can serve when your tax man when he comes a calling. These little gems are courtesy of my Grandmother, by way of a friend from the 1940s/1950s. Food was expensive, but that didn't mean that homemakers could abscond from their responsibilities by not providing drinks and appetizers when friends or co-workers stopped by. Nor did it mean that they had to accept mundane, unpleasant morsels to serve their guests. It simply required a little creativity. Here, then, are Vera's ripe olive hors d'oeuvres:

Vera's Ripe Olive Hors D'Oeurves
1 cup chopped ripe olives- (4 1/2 oz. can)
½ cup chopped green onions
2 cups grated cheddar cheese- sharp
½ cup real mayonaise
½ teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon salt
cocktail rye bread

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Mix all above ingredients, and if time allows let stand awhile to marinate flavors. I wouldn't recommend lightening this recipe with no-fat addins or making it chi-chi by buying fresh, greek olives from your local market. That's not the point. It's warfood, and its good like this - I can't vouch for the flavor otherwise. Once mixed, this will look a bit vile, like a ham and cheese salad with little black flecks in palce place of the ham. Have faith, dear friend! This can be made several days in advance if desired and refrigerated, so you can plan for it, if the tax man cometh.

3. Spread mixture on rye rounds. We use about a tablespoon on each, but its never measured. We eyeball these things, in the grand tradition of women before us. Arrange on a cookie sheet (no grease necessary) and bake about 10 - 15 minutes til thoroughly melted and gooey. They can be shoulder to shoulder like soldiers - even if the cheese goozes over onto the next one, it's only going to be delicious.

I will say, we never time them in the oven anymore, because more often than not we didn't have the oven pre-heated. Why? Because we weren't expecting company and needed something quick and on the fly! So times may vary and I recommend waiting around the oven like starved vultures, watching for the little toasts to bubble their way to glory.

4. Serve! Hot! When they get cooler, the cheese starts to congeal and its less pleasant, but hot they are divine!

A few notes from my Grandmother, who would be aghast if I shared Vera's recipe without letting the world know of her changes. The original recipe called for using quartered english muffins in lieu of the rye rounds. We find that the rye rounds are prettier (better contrast in color and flavor) and seem to allow for better nibbling/hand-feel. Medium sharp or sharp cheddar cheese works the best. Also, you can use chopped mushrooms (not cooked) in place of the ripe olives if you wish. She never served it that way to us, so again, can't vouch for its yumminess. Lastly, if you use "hot" curry, you may want to try using a bit less at first.

One of the biggest problem with these appetizers is they never get photographed. They're too good... in fact, they rarely get from pan to plate. We stand around the cookie sheet, spatula in one hand and hors d'oeurve in the other, chatting. I think Vera would have liked it that way.


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Anonymous Indu said...

yummy. why don't you post some pics?

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