Wednesday, July 15, 2009

wine, cheese, old friends and new memories - recipe: shawn mcintyre's warm cheese olive bites

Once a month or so, David and I get together with my brother, Adam, my sister in law, Michelle, and our good friends Rob, Kim, Shawn and Jessica.

We meet after dinner for drinks and appetizers (thank you to the grandparents for those of us with children) and chat the evening away.

It’s such a treat that I look forward to it every month — lots of laughs and good cheer are guaranteed.

Because of our busy work and social lives we try to meet on weeknights. This makes it easier for the four couples to co-ordinate schedules and puts a “cap” on the evening so that we all get home relatively early, ready to cheerfully face the next morning.

The last gathering was particularly special because our dear friends Catherine and Rob were visiting from Australia and were able to join us.

Rob is like a brother to me and Adam and Rob are best friends. Growing up, our families spent a lot of time together. Rob’s mom is Ruth Bricker. I featured her Swedish Nut recipe back in December. Catherine and I met at the University of Guelph and were roomies for a few years, so we have plenty of history as well.

The homecoming dinner

To celebrate their homecoming, Adam, Michelle, David and I decided to co-host the gathering and serve dinner as well as appetizers. It was a “sneaky” way to buy a few more hours to spend visiting with them.

To start we served two appetizers. The first was Michelle’s famous nacho dip, accompanied by my baked brie with spicy strawberry compote.

Dinner was barbecued burgers, roasted veggies tossed in garlic scape pesto, smashed fingerling potatoes (drizzled with the garlic olive oil that I wrote about in my July 1 column) and strawberry almond salad.

Simple dessert caps off the night

We kept things simple and passed around a box of Rheo Thompson Candies famous “mint smoothie” chocolates for dessert.

It was such a great night. I laughed so hard that by the end of the evening it felt like I had done a thousand sit-ups (Rob is a paramedic and has a litany of “colourful” stories to share).

The hard part is always saying goodbye — although David and I are now more determined than ever to save up for a trip “down under”.

It’s our turn to host the next get together and I’m already starting to plan which appetizers I’ll serve. You could call it an occupational hazard, I guess.

Cheese is always a hit and goes great with the wine! Below is a recipe for Shawn’s famous cheese olive canap├ęs, which are always the first of the appetizers to be gobbled up!

Shawn McIntyre’s Warm Cheese Olive Bites

(makes about six dozen - note: recipe can be doubled)

ingredients

  • 250 gram package “MacLaren’s” sharp spreadable cheddar cheese, slightly softened (You can find this cheese in the dairy section of a grocery store, near the cream cheese, butter, yoghurt, etc. It comes in a red plastic container with black printing.)
  • 1/2 pound butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • a couple pinches of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • One 750 mL jar of pimento-stuffed green olives
    (I used stuffed manzanilla olives when I was testing the recipe)

method

  • Knead all ingredients (except for the olives) well and chill dough in fridge for about an hour.
  • Drain and pat the stuffed olives until dry.
  • Break off pieces of dough and roll around the olives to coat them completely. I used about 1 teaspoon of dough per olive but you can use more if you choose.
  • Chill olives before baking.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake on an ungreased baking sheet for eight to 14 minutes.
  • How long you bake the olives will depend on your oven.
  • Serve warm—preferably to good friends and family!

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