Recently, I made dinner for my new roommates — a really nice fall meal of a pork roast with braised collard greens, polenta, and pan jus, with homemade chocolate pudding for dessert. I can’t fit all that in one post, though, so I thought I’d break it up into a couple. This first is about the yummy snackies I put out for them to much on while I cooked (and while we all cleaned the fridge), and also about my new devotion to sparkling red wine, which was what I served to accompany the food. First the snackies, then the wine.
I am a big believer in always having things out to munch on when you have company, even if that company is your own roommates. It’s not that much more effort to have some olives or some cheese, and it makes everyone more relaxed to be able to eat something right away and not feel stressed out about when they are really going to eat. These flatbreads, with manchego cheese and fig jam, took about one minute to put together, were completely scrumptious, and tided everyone over for the 45 or so minutes the collards took to cook (plus, for me, the time it took me to prep — these were the first thing I made, for obvious reasons). They are as simple as: flatbread crackers, slice of manchego cheese, dollop of fig jam. And then you’re done! And they’re beautiful. This combo — cracker, cheese, jam — can work in infinite combinations, I would imagine. This is just one. Flatbread crackers, in case that link didn’t help you enough, are very crisp crackers, with a lot of snap and crunch and a very toasted flavor. Manchego is a great Spanish cheese with a relatively mild, slightly sweet flavor. And fig jam is just one of the best things in the world, more savory than raspberry or strawberry, for example, but still with a touch of sweetness, which is what you want in the hors d’oeuvres world.
Speaking of sweetness: the wine. Sparkling red wine, I think, is a revelation. It is light and refreshing, but still with more oomph than a white wine. That oomph allows it to stand up to meat or spice, without overpowering it with tannins like so many red wines can. It seems heartily appropriate for fall, with its perfect blend of sparkle and depth. I have no brands in particular to recommend; some of the ones I have are pictured. Lambrusco is a particularly well-known sparkling red wine (also the name of the grape), and it is what I see on most restaurant menus. However, I would encourage you to experiment. It is hard for me to imagine that sparkling red wine, in any form, would disappoint.
Thursday, the main meal. And next Tuesday, the chocolate pudding.