Why Yes, It's Ladies Night

The travails of the blogger are silent and solitary as she toils in the (psychological) mines, chained to the keyboard. Her family may be either blissfully asleep or occupied with finding a cure for cancer. Or volunteering at the orphanage or perhaps getting super-powers in level 58 of World of Warcraft.   

But just like Cinderella, we sometimes get to put on the glass slippers and come out for a magical evening. Thanks to Patti, last Saturday was one of those nights.  More than a dozen lady food bloggers got to come to her house to meet F2F (that's face to face, gram) and enjoy lovely snacks and stay out past dark.  It was such a treat to see the faces and features of so many people I know only from the digital word.

I don't know about anyone else, but I had a lot of performance anxiety in trying to decide what to make for a dozen women who know a lot about food, and enjoy it and write about it all the time. You know you have to make something really delicious and homemade. But it can't be too over-the-top or look like you're trying too hard.  It has to be amazing, but in an understated way.  

Dessert is usually my first stop, but had already been magnificently covered by Alex and Shayne. and of course, MK's incredible cherry pie.  Back at the drawing board (aka, the open fridge door),  I got an idea for a small selection of tasty nibbles that would both go well together and taste good with wine.  And, I would like to point out that to garnish my masterpiece, I used 3 different kinds of flowers from my garden: violas, borage, and calendula.  OK, that may be a trying a little too hard but they were very pretty. 

So, here's the idea:

- Ciabatta toasts (from a Silvio's loaf)

- White bean spread with rosemary and garlic scapes (my own scapes even)

- Zingerman's rosemary goat cheese with trefoil honey (from Eastern Market)

- Fried sage leaves (my own sage leaves!)

This was a nice combination because the goat cheese and honey takes approximately 5 seconds to prepare and it's sooooooo good. The white beans can be made ahead of time (and it's better if they are). The fried sage leaves are simple to do, but a little bit unexpected.  Plus they go well with white beans.  

White Bean Spread

2 cans of drained white beans (canellini, great northern, even navy would work)

2 cloves garlic, minced OR 2 large garlic scapes, chopped fine

1-2 T. olive oil

handful of chopped parsley

sprig of chopped rosemary

generous squeeze of lemon

grated parmesan

salt and pepper

I like this because it's not so much a recipe as an idea - which is how I tend to cook.  Saute garlic or scapes in the olive oil until golden or cooked.  Dump drained beans in the food processor and mash up. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth.  Mmm, good on wheat crackers. Nano used to put bean spread between Ryvita crackers for a surprisingly tasty camping sandwich lunch.  Too healthy though. 

Goat Cheese with Rosemary and Honey

1 round of City Goat rolled in chopped rosemary (available at the market, 2 for $10)

Generous portion of your favorite Michigan honey over the top of the cheese

The woman selling the goat cheese told me about this combination and ever since I tried it I have been hooked. It helps that I've also been on a honey kick and can offer my guests a selection among: Makielski's Raspberry Honey, Basswood Honey, Trefoil Honey, and Earthworks Detroit Honey.  Mmmm. Looking forward soon to Crane Dance Honey this fall. 

Fried Sage Leaves

Large handful of clean, dry sage leaves

Olive oil

Sea salt

In a large frying pan, heat a thin film of olive oil over medium high heat. Gently put in sage leaves, one at a time, a few at a time, and fry just a few seconds until starting to get crisp and turn darker.  With chopsticks (or your favorite implement - long tweezers?) turn over each sage leaf and fry the other side. Fry just until crisp and not a moment longer.  Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.  Eat your yummy, delicate chips or use as a delightful garnish. 

I know I could probably have brought a mudpie and people would have found a way to like it. That's what kind of a lovely evening it was.  

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