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Friday, December 17, 2010

I Don't Trust That Bowl...

Another work week has flown by, my friends, and once again, we look to my iPod to guide us.

What? Are you kidding me? Your iPod doesn’t foretell the future? Are you sure? Because that’s one of the things that keeps me sane these days, knowing that my iPod, set to shuffle and played during my morning commute, portends the immediate future.

Are you sure yours doesn’t?

Hmm. Let’s use mine.

Stomp by The Brothers Johnson
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Daft Punk
On Board by Friendly Fires
Time To Get Away by LCD Soundsystem
Fire by Jimi Hendrix
Strange Times by The Black Keys
Sunshine Superman by Donovan

And that reminds me: time to clean the house. I’m having a party.

Saturday night is Misfit Christmas, an evening-long celebration starting with food and drink, more food and drink, that gift-stealing-and-dice game, still more food and drink, and its eventual collapse into a frank, sit-down discussion around world events and observations regarding anatomy.

Cigarettes to be smoked on the porch, where the ambient air temperature is well below freezing.

Starts at 6:00 and ends when I disappear.

As with so many parties, I’m required – by neighborhood law, I believe – to make Taco Layer Dip, Reuben Dip, and the Hidden Valley Torte.

Let’s hope I do better with the torte then I did last time.

It’s a delightful little concoction, really. Layered stratum of seasoned cream cheese, roasted red peppers, parsley, and artichoke hearts, it’s as pretty as it is tasty, the layers having been constructed in any interestingly shaped bowl and then turned upside-down on a plate and ringed with crackers just before serving.

I like to create a little decorative something-or-other for that first layer, the layer that will be on top when you flip it over and serve it, something with artfully arranged roasted red peppers. Doesn’t that sound nice?

Mm-hmm. That’s what I thought.

And so for the last party I threw (the Summer Party), I thought I’d make a stylized flower. I carefully arranged the red peppers on the bottom of the bowl and then threw the first layer of cream cheese on it.

If you’ve ever worked with cream cheese – and who here hasn’t, really – you know it’s not the most easily spread of substances. I pushed it around, tried to smooth it so that the next layer of peppers/artichokes/parsley would lie flat. I then layered another slathering of cream cheese, another strata of the peppers/artichokes/parsley, and ended with the cream cheese.

The creation of this dish is immediately followed by a vigorous licking of any utensil used in the creation of said torte.

The next day, I would flip it over on a plate, throw some more parsley around the edges, arrange some crackers, and voila. Fish and chips.

But that’s not how it worked out.

The next day, when I flipped the torte over on to the plate, my stylized flower was no longer a flower. It had been pushed into another design altogether.

My pretty little flower was now as near an approximation to a swastika as I’ve ever seen on a party food.

There were people at the door, people lugging beer up the steps, people shouting at each other. I didn’t have time to play with the food.

I left it there.

Oddly enough, no one seemed to notice; which either tells you something about the observational skills of my friends, their political leanings, or their abilities to swill large amounts of beer.

I’m thinking it was the beer.

I’m going to give this little dish another chance. Sure it’s tasty. Sure it’s festive in appearance. But if it thinks I’m going to get into a discussion regarding its ideological leanings, it’s going to find itself being escorted out of the building.

It’s Misfit Christmas, for cryin’ out loud.


Jess said...

I LOVE Misfit Christmas! We have one every year! But your food sounds better. We just have the beer part.

Pearl said...

Jess, the beauty of the food part is that it allows for the consumption of more of the beer part.

haphazardlife said...

Can I come to your party? - Jazz

Pearl said...

Jazz, absolutely. :-) You have to promise to smoke out on the porch and tell at least one amusing story.

Oilfield Trash said...

Misfit Christmas sounds like something that I would like.

Anonymous said...

rueben dip? recipe please. xoxoxxo

(i would start smoking again if that's a requirement for party admission, sugar! but just for the night, of course!) :~

(it's me, savannah, working on another MAC, don't ask)

Kate said...

Misfit Christmases are the best! That's what we had last year when we got 3 feet of snow on Christmas Eve! It was splendid!

And swastikas aside, are you gonna give up the recipe for this torte, or what?

Grant said...

Happy Swastikmas.

Pearl said...

This post is making me hungry.

Hidden Valley Torte:
1 pk Hidden Valley ranch dressing
16 oz Cream cheese
6 oz Marinated artichoke hearts;
-drained and chopped
1/3 c Roasted red peppers; drained
-and chopped
3 tb Fresh parsley; minced

Cream cheese and dressing mix together. In a separate bowl, stir together artichokes, peppers and parsley.
In a 3-cup bowl lined with plastic wrap, alternate layers of cream cheese and vegetable mixture--beginning with a cream cheese layer. Chill 4 hours or overnight. Invert on plate; remove plastic wrap.
Serve with crackers.

Reuben Dip
1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1/4 c. sour cream
1/2 c. Swiss cheese
4 oz. Buddig corned beef, chopped
1/2 c. sauerkraut, drain well
2-3 tbsp. milk (if too thick)

Throw it in a crockpot. Heat thoroughly. Serve with rye chips or cocktail rye bread. (I usually have to triple this recipe. Absolutely everyone loves it, and people are often surprised that they like sauerkraut...)

John said...

Sounds delicious! It wouldn't be a traditional Christmas if there wasn't a mishap in the kitchen.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Y'know, the best tasting things often look the worse. Like my pies, for example. The crusts never turn out but they are better than anything that broad Sara Lee makes.

Sioux Roslawski said...

I have to know...Do you spray the bowl with something, or line it with waxed paper, to make it easier to get out?

I am going to try this over the holiday. It sounds marvelous...

Stacy Q said...

I learned to groove listening to "Strawberry Letter 23" by the Brothers Johnson, hadn't thought of that for years! This is bringing back SO MANY memories!! Thanks for sharing

SherilinR said...

i just love it when things turn out wrong when you make them & it ends up being a source of amusement for others. i definitely think swastika dip falls into that category. you should have taken a picture!

Karen said...

Wow, you can make dip? I just buy it, dump it in bowls, stir it up so it looks less like the container it came it, and set it out. You have opened my eyes to new possibilities.

Simply Suthern said...

Always been a Reuben Fan. I am sure the dip is as good or better. We do a Dirty Santa gift swap/stealing game. I am sure it was safe as long as you didnt wear the Torte on your sleeve.

Jhon Baker said...

hummm, - stomp, time to get away and fire on the fortune telling ipod just before a misfit christmas party - I'd watch out!

Lazarus said...

Sounds like a great night, almost reason enough for someone to visit sub-zero Minnesota! I said "almost." Have fun!

Kay Dennison said...

Thanks for the recipe!!! I love reubens. Misfit Christmas sounds great!!!!!

Jingle said...

insightful post.

Jingle said...


I wonder if you are interested in poets rally,
Link in a random poem, visit and comment…
Poets return favors and follow the rules, thus, hope that you won’t miss your opportunity to make new poetry friends…

Happy Friday!
Stay Blessed!

Lynn said...

Love this. We have a similar thing but it's called the Orphan Christmas Party. Thanks for the dip recipe. I am going to try for a swastika.

Gigi said...

Now this sounds like the kind of party I wouldn't miss for the world! I feel sure that Liza Bean will be taking notes to use as blackmail later.

Windsmoke. said...

G' Day From Australia, Misfit Christmas party that's a new one on me just like your yummmmy and addictive torte concoction. Merry Christmas.

a Broad said...

LOL, Nothing says Merry Christmas like a Swastika in your dip :D

Joanna Jenkins said...

I hope your Christmas party is grand regardless of what shape your turns turns out to be. I love the "vigorous licking of utensils". It's the best part of cooking.

Merry Christmas! jj

PS Stop by, I'm having a giveaway.

injaynesworld said...

What fun. If I was in the neighborhood I'd be crashing the party for sure. Congrats on the book. I'll be buying one soon.

Eva Gallant said...

Misfit Christmas. Story of my life.

Lisa said...

Anyone who can master cream cheese is my hero. Seriously. I've cried over cream cheese.

bruce said...

i always soften the CC for fifteen minutes, er unh i mean seconds in the micro...

i want to party with you, tho!

the requisite amount of licking utensils is the only reason for making a dip from scratch..

bruce johnson jadip
stupid stuff i see and hear
The guy book
the guy book

Tracy said...

LOL at the swastika. Now if it turned into the perfect piece of edible art that you wanted, this story would haven't been as entertaining, teehee.
thanks for posting the recipe :)

River said...

I'm here playing catch up with all the posts I've missed these last few weeks. There's so many!! My fault, for getting out and about instead of sitting here reading....
I hope you have better luck with the layered cheese thingy this year. It sounds like a really pretty dish.

Symdaddy said...

I would just love the opportunity to ride on your bus, rip your iPod from your ears and put some DECENT music on there!

Good old Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Deep Purple and the coolest rocker of them all, Mr. Dilbert Balljoint (air guitar, air drums and, thankfully, air vocals) of the band 'Air Today, Gone Tomorrow'.

Re parties: I would engage you any time to organise and host one of our parties ... but leave those dips behind!

Tempo said...

Here in OZ we have a thing about serving party food that looks just as good after it's come up as it was before it went down. Carrot squares are mandatory...

Lynne H. said...

Ha! Misfits Christmas parties sound awesome.. have a great time, stay warm on the porch and may the dip be the talk of the town..good talk, Pearl, good talk..

Have fun!!!

FabuLeslie said...

Sounds so fun! Have a great time, and I know the torte will turn out great. Personally, you had me at Taco Layer Dip, which I'm assuming is what I call Grandma's 7-Layer Dip. Mmmm. Is it ok to make stuff like that when I'm not having a party, and just have it for lunch?

Pat Tillett said...

Reuben? I read and commented on a lot of your posts, but this two in a row that you've made me hungry!
I want me a big ol Reuben sammy and a bowl of bean soup...

Susan in the Boonies said...

Mmmmm....Nazi Dip!!!

Hidden Valley Nazi Torte sounds like the last bastion of the Boys from Brazil.

Try some...and you'll feel uppity, too!!!

(Official Dip of the Master Race)