If the end of January is approaching then I know I can expect a variety of things: emails from sites I subscribe to sharing the perfect Super Bowl snacks, bloggers swapping their tried and true party dish faves, and people talking about whether they’re planning on a game day get together or not. None of it has been discussed in our house yet, because we’ve been busy, busy, busy with life enjoying a long weekend making like tourists in West Hollywood, soaking up the last bits of our youngest’s company before he returns to San Francisco for the spring semester, celebrating family birthdays and anniversaries, and in the past couple of days, nursing one of our cats back to health after a run in with a neighbor’s kitty. Goodness! And it’s not over yet. Any time now, my husband will ask about what’s on our Super Bowl agenda. It always seems to be a last minute sort of thing most years, and that’s just fine with me because it doesn’t take too much thought to decide which snacks football fans will expect to have at their fingertips whether they’re for our small family, or a larger group.
I doubt there has ever been a time we haven’t had fresh salsa or pico de gallo with guacamole and tortilla chips. A pot of chili with all the fixin’s and a salad for halftime eats are also the norm even though the chili recipe varies from one year to the next. But I’m also known for sneaking in something that may raise eyebrows, causing certain guests to cast one another a nervous glance before pointing and asking, “What is that?” then politely suppressing the urge to continue with, “Do I have to eat it?” as they reel their fingers back in. Actually, they now ask, “How do I eat it?” because it seems my food often has rules that accompany it — or must seem like it does. Is it supposed to be dipped, or layered? Which of the ingredients on the plate create the best bite? Is it finger food, or do I need a plate and fork? To their credit, they seem much more enthusiastic than they did years ago, so I know my risks to encourage people to try something new haven’t failed, and that makes me happy.
Time has just flown by lately and with it, my opportunities to not only write as much as I have, but cook the way I’ve always enjoyed cooking — experimenting with new recipes. Since coming back from Mexico, I’ve been mulling over an opportunity that has taken on a life of its own and me with it. For the next year or so, I’ll be out of the house again for most of the day so will have to learn to adjust to writing here in the time I have left. I know there are many of you who do this successfully, so I’ll look to you for inspiration and perhaps a schedule! By all means, share your secrets with me so I can find a good balance.
In the meantime, I wanted to share a tart I made recently inspired by yet another tart made with some lovely vegetables from Specialty Produce. Although the brief and somewhat elusive season for ramps is close to ending (April – May) , I was able to sample them for the first time. Ramps are wild leeks harvested by foraging in wooded, mountainous areas, and from what I’m learning, quite the reason to celebrate since they’re a sign of spring. Ramps are a member of the allium family, so I decided to sample them with green garlic and shallot shoots knowing that whatever I ended up making would be delicious. Unfortunately, the first tart was prepared for a dinner party, and since I’m challenged to find a way to shoot great photos while entertaining, I decided to recreate the tart using a different collection of vegetables from the onion family.
Because I was home alone that evening, I was thrilled not to have to share this amazing tart with anyone.
Halloween officially launches the party season as far as I’m concerned. It’s not like we have a calendar full of swanky events scheduled…I’m counting zero right now…, but having any excuse to get together constitutes a party. Why not? Football, the holidays, and…..Election Night! Whether it’s a raucous group of good friends, or a more tame cocktail get together, the occasion is always better if the food is excellent.
And speaking of excellent, what could be better than a dish that can be a dip or a salad? It’s elegant, it’s healthy, and oh my goodness, it’s delicious.
The first time I made this, my brother dug in with a tortilla chip and popped it in his mouth, asking between chews and mmmming, “What is this?”
“Raw fish,” I responded. “Good, huh?”
And he thought he didn’t like avocados or fish — let alone raw fish.