Sunday, January 27, 2008

Olive Poppers

I don't get invited to many potlucks. This is probably because I tend to take charge of the kitchen and want my food to be the star. I know this about myself and sincerely do want to be better...someday.

Last Friday, my friend Meris invited a number of us over to her penthouse pad (OK, it isn't exactly a penthouse, but it is on the top floor). She invited us over for games, drinks and...dududdum...a potluck. The very word sends my head into a spin - what should I make? How will it travel? Who is the crowd? Sometimes it feels like a curse. Most of the time though, I really enjoy the process.

Lately, my go-to recipe for gatherings where, let's face it, massive amounts of alcohol will be involved...are olive poppers. My friend passed along this recipe by Kathy Casey. She is some Seattle-area food lady who I has never really been on my radar other than this recipe and the cocktails she evidently help concoct at Volterra. Hazelnut and bourbon?! But I digress.

This recipe is pretty easy and a guaranteed hit (unless you don't like olives). The only caveat is that they take FOREVER to make. You can easily make them ahead of time though (even the day before) and bake just before you serve them.

Olive Poppers
Makes about 30 poppers

1 cup (4 ounces) finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sifted flour
Dash cayenne pepper
1 jar pimiento-stuffed olives (I just buy the inexpensive supermarket brand)
1/3 cup mixed white and black sesame seeds

Beat the cheese and butter together with a wooden spoon, then stir in the flour and cayenne. Flatten the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Drain the olives and toss any broken or pimiento-less ones. Place the sesame seeds onto a large plate.

Take the dough out of the fridge. Break off a chunk of dough and use the thumb of one hand to press each piece of dough into a flat pancake in the palm of the opposite hand. Then press the pancake around an olive. Roll each ball in the seeds and place the balls on baking sheet.

Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 15 minutes. Serve hot.

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