Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ironic Holiday Foods

I saw the recipe that follows in last year's holiday edition of Food Network Magazine, and I am actually tempted to make it. I think it could potentially work, in terms of combining sweet and salty. Also, it's sort of ironic, and I like ironic foods. Also like things that are so ugly that they circumnavigate the ugliness globe and come up on the cute side of things.

In the same category: the holiday chocolate slab that was featured in one of this year's holiday-edition home magazines. I looked for a photo of it online but came up empty. General concept behind a chocolate slab is that you melt chocolate in a pan (or you can melt different kinds of chocolate, pour them into a pan, and swirl them together to create a pleasing pattern), and then you throw candy and/or cookie bits into the chocolate mixture while it is still warm. The finished product can be served as a solid slab o' sugar or pre-broken into irregular pieces, but basically it's a whimsical twist on fudge and other chocolate-based holiday standbys. What put this one over the top was that no effort appeared to have been made to make the slab pleasing to the eye. Or, perhaps, that was the point. In any event, instead of displaying an even coverage of chopped candy bar pieces, or chunks of cookies, it had what appeared to be an entire Pepperidge Farms Chessman cookie in one corner, a couple of gummi bears in another quadrant, five M&Ms (four green, one red) over here, and so on. Essentially, someone threw a random assortment of food products at a rectangle of liquid chocolate to see what stuck. And then they photographed the result and put it in a major print publication. It was genius. It looked like my kid made it - or, possibly, the elephant at the zoo that paints stuff.

Photo of Ugly Chocolate Slab was discovered by my Keno group during a dessert break between Keno rounds, and it was unanimously decided that Ugly Chocolate Slab should be on the menu for December Keno. So I guess I'd better pick up some random candy (the more random, the better) when I go out in search of good quality fruitcake for crumbling over a mess o' cream cheese and Gorgonzola . . . .

FRUITCAKE CHEESE LOAF (courtesy of Food Network Magazine)

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 loaf fruitcake (about 11/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces gorgonzola cheese, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 or 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 or 2 dashes cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. Reserve the drippings.

Crumble enough of the fruitcake to measure 1 cup; set the remaining cake aside. Mix the crumbled cake, flour and butter with your fingers in a bowl until the mixture is in pea-size pieces. Place on a baking sheet and bake until crisp, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Let cool, then add the bacon and crumble the mixture into smaller pieces.

Beat the gorgonzola, cream cheese, chives, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne in a bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth; set aside. Line a mini loaf pan or small souffle dish with plastic wrap, leaving a long overhang on the sides. Press the crumble into the bottom of the dish. Spread the cheese mixture over the crumble layer and fold in the excess plastic wrap to cover the cheese. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, brush a baking sheet with some of the reserved bacon drippings. Slice the remaining fruitcake into 1/4-inch-thick pieces with a serrated knife (if they fall apart, press back together with your fingers). Place the slices on the prepared baking sheet, brush with more drippings and toast 7 to 10 minutes per side. Cool on the baking sheet.

Uncover the cheese mold and invert onto a platter. Serve with the fruitcake toasts.

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