I've already got a portion of the menu planned for this week's travel party - where the theme takes itself from five countries. The Mexican, Japanese, and Russian rooms will have delicious savory nibbles, dips, and tasty appetizers for guest to enjoy while they mingle. For an element of surprise, create an English cheese tasting platter for the British room. Generally cheese platters consist of Italian, French, or Swiss cheeses, so a platter with nuts, jams, honey, fig crackers, English cheddar, and Stilton will wow guests with your originality. Meaty Cuban sandwiches with pickles and mustard finish up the menu. Head over to Cost Plus World Market to supplement the rooms with sweet treats and exotic bites from the respective countries. For the recipes that will take you around the globe,
3 large dried figs, preferably Calimyrna
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 pound extra-sharp farmhouse Cheddar cheese, preferably from England, grated (1 1/4 cups)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
- In a small heatproof bowl, soak the figs in boiling water until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain the figs and pat dry. Slice off the tough stems, then cut the figs into 1/2-inch dice.
- In a food processor, combine the flour, butter, Cheddar cheese, kosher salt and pepper and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and add the figs and egg. Using your hands, work the dough until it comes together.
- Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and pat it into a 12-by-2-inch rectangular log. Wrap the log tightly and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour, or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter 2 large baking sheets. Slice the log of dough crosswise 1/4 inch thick.
- Arrange the slices at least 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
- Bake the Cheddar crackers for about 12 minutes, or until they are golden brown and slightly firm. Carefully transfer the crackers to a wire rack to cool.
Makes 3 dozen.
Make ahead: the dough can be tightly wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days or wrapped in plastic, then in aluminum foil and frozen for up to 1 month. The crackers can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
1 mini baguette (6 oz, whole grain, if available) cut in half and sliced open to make 4 halves
mayonnaise and Dijon mustard, to taste (optional)
4 very thin slices Black Forest or other lean deli ham
4 very thin slices deli smoked peppered turkey breast
4 very thin slices deli salami
1 large dill pickle, thinly sliced
4 very thin slices Swiss cheese
1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
2 thin slices purple onion
2 slices red pepper, raw or roasted
- Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle, or a double-sided sandwich maker such as a Foreman Grill.
- Spread mustard and mayonnaise as desired on each piece of the bread.
- Layer 2 slices each of the ham, turkey, salami, and cheese on 2 pieces of the bread.
- Layer even amounts of pickle between the meat and cheese.
- Top each with even amounts of spinach, purple onion, and red pepper.
- Using the top of the bread, make 2 sandwiches.
- Place them on the hot skillet or griddle. (If desired, you can use a small amount of butter on the grill).
- Lay a heavy iron skillet or other heavy skillet on top of the sandwich. (You may need to prepare one sandwich at a time). Flatten the sandwich to about 1/4 of its original size,
- Grill for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
- If using a double-sided sandwich maker, grill for 3 to 4 minutes, watching carefully.
Nutrition Information: Per Serving (168g-wt.): 380 calories (150 calories from fat), 16g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 3g dietary fiber, 20g protein, 36g carbohydrate, 50mg cholesterol, 1310mg sodium