Returning for its fourth season, Mad Men (Mad Men & Philosophy debuted in June with True Blood & Philosophy and was edited by my colleague-in-arms, Rod Carveth and Buff-bud, James B. South) airs Sunday, July 25th. In honor of this ode to patriarchal tragedy, we'll be serving a deceptively civilized almond cheese spread.
Toasted Almond Cheese Spread (serves 2-4)
What you'll need:
-12 ounces of whipped cream cheese
-1.5 cups of finely shredded Swiss cheese
-1/2 cup of Miracle Whip or your favorite mayo
-ground black pepper
-1/3 cup sliced, toasted almonds
-preheated oven to 350-degrees
-8-inch pie or quiche dish
Using spatula or large spoon, combine the room-temperature cream cheese, Miracle Whip and Swiss cheese in mixing bowl; when well-incorporated, add in about 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1/2 a teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. Spread in pie dish. Bake for 8 minutes then remove from oven and stir.
Take sliced, toasted almonds and sprinkle on top--you can customize here by making half the dip with almonds, and half plain--depending on your crowd.
Put spread back in oven and bake for another 8 minutes. Serve with your favorite crackers or with fresh baguette slices. If you really want to get fancy. slice a baguette ahead of time and brush both sides of each slice with olive oil. Grill for 1-2 minutes each side in a grill pan--just to get the nice toasty flavor and have the pretty grill marks.
Yum--nothing like a good spread...especially while watching those crazy Mad Men, where nothing is as it seems.
My next recipe is inspired by the BBCAmerica hit Being Human. Right up my supernatural-alley, it features a werewolf, vampire and ghost all living together and trying to "blend in" with the good people of Bristol. The show starts its second season on BBCAM on Saturday evening. And what better to go with vampires and werewolves than some Killer Bread....
Killer Bread (serves 4-6...or 2 very hungry people)
What you'll need:
-1 cup of Miracle Whip or your favorite mayo (mayo is easy to make, btw)
-1 cup of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
-1.5 teaspoons of freshly minced garlic or 1 tspn. of garlic salt (though I tend to skip the garlic...vampires are frequent visitors in my house)
-1 large loaf of fresh Italian or sourdough bread
-2 tablespoons on freshly chopped basil (you can substitute with dried as well)
-4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter (use the real stuff...go butter or go home!)
-lined cookie sheet
-broiler (most ovens have a broiler function--just keep in mind that things brown very quickly using broilers so don't get distracted or your recipe will be toast...literally)
Mix Miracle Whip, grated cheese and garlic in a mixing bowl and set aside. Cut bread in half length-wise. Butter cut-side of each half and put cut-side up under broiler until brown (not more than a few minutes, depending on your broiler and altitude). Remove bread from broiler and spread mixture with cheese and miracle whip on cut-side of each half. Put back under broiler until the mixture begins to puff and has a golden-brown color. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with chopped basil. Cut into wedges and serve.
And finally, Memphis Beat started its first season this summer on TNT Tuesday nights. Produced by George Clooney (who we adore), the show stars Jason Lee of My Name is Earl fame. For this little summer-slider, I've concocted a cocktail that will take you all the way to Memphis and back again, whether you're watching the show or not.
Memphis Sweet Tea
*This is an alcoholic drink. A non-alcoholic version of the recipe follow.
Like all good cocktails, you make this one by the glass--not the pitcher. But you can multiply the ingredients by the number of people and make it in a pitcher if you'd like. My objection to that is the lack of detailed-flavor in mass-production anything. It takes more time to make multiple cocktails but you're not swigging back a beer here....
What you'll need:
-chilled Honest-Tea Just Black Tea (or, you can make your own iced tea)
-chilled V8 Mango Peach
-your favorite white rum
-mint leaves for garnish
-12 ounce or taller glass
Pour 1/3 of a cup of V8 Mango Peach in the bottom of your glass. Fill the glass to half with the Honest-Tea Just Black Tea. Add 5-6 ice cubes. Top with rum until glass is full. Mix. Add mint leaves for garnish. Long Island's got nothin' on this Memphis-inspired version!
Simply combine ingredients as stated above, leaving out the rum and increasing to a 1/2 cup of V8 Mango Peach, replacing the rum with more Just Black Tea. The rum adds a lot of sweetness to the recipe, so you can use a martini shaker to combine ingredients, adding a packet of sugar-in-the-raw. And there you go--sweet, southern music to anyone's mouth!
Until next time, dearest readers...pop goes the cooking culture!