August 28, 2009
School started this week, and I’m afraid I can’t really hold a coherent thought in my head at this moment. Therefore, this has become the post of miscellany.
a) Each year, I create a “Word Tree” with my students on the back wall of my room. Students are asked to choose words in any language that appeal to them because of what they mean or how they sound. In past years, I have had words in Hebrew, Hindi, Spanish, Polish, Latin, German, & Portuguese—and English words ranging from “indignant” to “giggly” to “ineluctable” to “satiate.” My students always manage to impress me and get themselves excited about words, which is pretty cool, no?
Since I always ask my colleagues, friends, and family to contribute words to the word tree, I’d like, this year, to ask you, lovely blog readers, to throw out some of your favorite words. Remember, any word, any language, because you love what it means or how it sounds. Share away! I’ll add you to the tree next week.
b) Speaking of words, I’m obsessed with the Online Etymology Dictionary. It’s been fun for my students and me to discover where words come from, like “miscellany,” which comes from the Latin miscere, meaning “to mix,” and “lollapalooza,” descending from lallapalootza in an unspecified American Indian language, meaning “remarkable person or thing.” (One of my students totally brought this word in; have I mentioned I love my students?)
c) There’s a very cool jewelry artist here in Houston named Melissa Borrell who makes really lovely, unusual pendants, earrings, and other decorative works. The thing is, she’s not going to be in Houston long and her moving means there are a bunch of fantastic pieces on sale.
d) Next week, our super-cute-and-knowledgeable sommelier returns with a post on Wine Tasting Basics!
e) I have three, long, hand-written letters from three fantastic friends to respond to this weekend. Damn, I’m a lucky girl.
f) You never thought I’d get to the food, did you? Well, it’s a little bit miscellaneous, too. The inspiration came from one of the many receptions/dinners/galas that we have been to in the last handful of years on account of Jill’s work. Some are really fun, some are really boring, but since I always enjoy getting dressed up and eating free food, I’m a pretty easy spouse to drag to said events.
At some point, I filed this idea away in my brain; the original was stuffed with cream cheese, but I thought surely we could get a little bit more exciting? I tested brie-stuffed and mascarpone-stuffed versions on a crowd a few weekends ago, and the brie was the clear favorite, though there was a minority of guests who are not stinky-cheese fans and therefore found the mascarpone more palatable. You should know, though, that all of the little apricots disappeared in a flash; I had to pry them away so they could be photographed!
I think these would be lovely as part of an hors d’oeuvres spread, or with a cheese course or dessert assortment or just simply paired with a bottle of crisp white to start a meal. Probably you fine people out there have further ideas for cheeses that would work, so feel free to leave suggestions along with your Word Tree Words—ooh! We could have a whole “cheese” section of the tree! Havarti and Jarlsberg and Chevre all hanging together in perfect harmony.
See how my brain is wired for miscellany these days? I’m off to teach some renegade eighth graders, and in the meantime I leave you with a very elegant but simple-to-assemble canapé which I hope will serve you well.
jumbo dried apricots (test these for springy-ness before buying; overly dry fruit will not stuff well)
small wedge Brie cheese, softened at room temp
toasted almonds, thinly sliced
Using a small, sharp paring knife, slit the apricot around its curve, working the knife into the meat of the fruit to form a pocket. Be careful not to cut all the way around, just about a half-moon shape is enough. Repeat with desired number of apricots—I think I did twenty-four.
Use a small spoon (my grapefruit spoon worked well) to stuff about a ½ tsp of Brie into each apricot. Don’t worry if a little bit is showing, I think it’s nice to give diners an idea of what they’re eating and the two colors look lovely in contrast.
Drizzle the platter of apricots with a gentle rain of honey, either squeezing from the bottle or warming a bit in the microwave and then zig-zagging a spoonful over the fruit.
Dot the top of each apricot with an almond slice. And I’ve gotta quote Julia here, ubiquitous as she may be it’s for a reason, Bon Appétit!