I thrive on coming up with creative ways to gather together. A few weeks back, I convinced a friend to host a costume party in honor of Fasching. This is Germany’s carnival season. It starts on the 11th day of November at exactly 11minutes after 11am and ends at the stroke of midnight on Shroud Tuesday – often referred to as Fat Tuesday (the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday). Fasching it is a time of festivity and merry making – a time to break the rules, poke fun at those who make them and then to make your own new rules. In Germany, particularly in the Rhineland area, the tradition can be traced to medieval times where many countries existed under harsh rules. Kings, princes and even smaller potentates maintained their own courts. In doing so, they flaunted before each other their own pomp and splendor at the expense of their population.
During karneval time, the common people took a chance at ‘living it up” and “talking back to their rulers”. They would make a mock government of eleven people, as well as other officials.
So a group of us had a costume party and brought delicious fare to share with one another. I came up with a few “tart” ideas…First up, I created these bite sized cream tarts, almost like a cream puff….and let me tell you eating them piping hot out of the oven is like another realm of heaven.
I’ve been in super Ruby bonding mode, and after the wine tasting affair last month, I invited a few of my foodie friends to educate me with a wine and simple food party. Really, it was a celebration for me to share some wine I brought back from China, and try out this funky recipe I found. Okay, really, it was a chance for other people to bring over good wine to my house and me to get to delight in their experiential social capital.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like making new recipes unless I am sharing it with others. There is this moment where I long to turn around and say “Look!” I made something YUMMY! and either share in the pride of creation, or somewhat confer “next time do you think I should add lemon?” Anyway, I’ve been meaning to make some crackers lately, and so I spent a TON of time on Saturday creating Oatmeal Beer Blue Cheese Crackers (and yes, they were very labor intensive!)
Course #1 Deviled Eggs (with tarragon in the middle and edamame) served with a German Grauburgunder (or Pinot Gris)
COURSE #2 Leek Tart and Prosecco (this was the BEST duo of paring of the evening! The creamyness of the goat cheese and the pungency of the leeks sparkled with the dry, but easy, bubbles of the prosecco)
COURSE #3 A sparkling pinot rose (from Provence!) paired with a curry shrimp (and oh my! the layered textures and flavors in this dish had me at HELLO!)
COURSE #4 A SUPERB and utterly amazing and lip licking pinot verdot from Australia. My friend paired with a goat cheese sundried tomato pasta with proscuitto.
Oh, I am so grateful. I have a group of really best best friends here. and then I have a group of close friends. and then I have friends that I have been close to in the past, and continue to love me, but in a less proximal way. The pairings are always happy, and then sometimes, full of such synergy and connection that I feel so alive, and centered. Authentic as the me I was at 16 and also a version of myself that is spectuacular.
And I wouldn’t taste these versions,
if it wasn’t for this deep sharing of nourishment
Whole Wheat Beer Bread Crackers
2 tsp instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar
12 oz warm beer
2 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c bread flour — separated
1 1/2 tbsp butter — melted
1/4 cup of crumbled blue cheese
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp water
Using the paddle attachment thoroughly combine yeast, whole wheat flour, 1 1/4 cup bread flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and sugar. Add butter to warm beer and, with mixer running, pour beer into dry ingredients. As the dough forms swap paddle attachment for dough hook. Knead for six minutes at medium speed. The dough should be slightly sticky but should clear the bowl. Add additional flour if needed. Dump dough onto a floured board and knead another minute or two until dough is fairly smooth (it won’t be as smooth as a white bread) and resilient. Allow to rest 5 to 10 minutes.
Clean and dry mixing bowl and spray with a nonstick spray. Shape dough into a ball and place seam-side down in bowl. Spritz top lightly with cooking spray and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in bulk — 60 to 90 minutes.
Punch down dough and turn out onto floured board. Lightly knead dough and form into a 6-8 flattened balls. Allow to rest five to 10 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough as thin as possible – no thicker than 1/8 inch. Place dough on an ungreased baking sheet, and mark squares out with a knife, but don’t cut through. You can also use a biscuit cutter, like I did, and make individual crackers. Prick each cracker with a fork a few times, and sprinkle with salt.Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until crisp and light brown. Baking time may be different depending on how thin your crackers are. When cool, remove from baking sheet, and separate into individual crackers