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Stuffed Figs, Parmesan Crackers & Spicy Cheesy Pecans

July 15, 2011

For years, I lived in Washington, D.C., where cocktail hour is just another part of your job. Granted, it’s not actually called cocktail hour. When you live in D.C., you have a reception to attend or you’re going to happy hour with friends or you’re going to a work happy hour reception with your friends who work in the same industry that you do. Or about a dozen other permutations of that theme.

Regardless, at the end of the day, it’s cocktail hour. A chance to talk with friends and colleagues about the issues of the day over a civilized beverage of choice and maybe some finger foods. Having been to my fair share of D.C. cocktail hours, I can tell you that the finger foods were rarely all that convenient or all that good.

Cheese brings them all together...

When the #LetsLunch bunch suggested we get together and celebrate the group’s two-year anniversary with champagne friendly nibbles, I knew exactly what I was NOT going to make – food that can’t be eaten with just one hand. I’m sorry, but if I have to hunt for a spot to set down my drink so that I can pick up a finger food or to wipe my hands because said finger food was messy, then it’s not likely that I’m going to put my drink down or eat the finger food in question.

So for this month’s #LetsLunch post, I turned to a resource I knew I could trust to provide me with delicious finger food recipes that could be eaten without even having to think about setting down my drink.

Junior League Cookbooks.

More specifically, Southern Junior League Cookbooks.

Pretty much everyone knows Southerners are known for their hospitality. And Junior League cookbooks, Ladies’ Auxiliary cookbooks and even church and garden club cookbooks are full of a whole smorgasbord of recipes handed down generation to generation and friend to friend. These are recipes you can trust. No lady worth her salt is going to submit a recipe to be published in a cookbook that hasn’t been tested and proven to be a hit among her family and friends. No way, no how.

So, in honor of the #LetsLunch bunch’s second anniversary of our monthly gatherings celebrating recipes we can share and make and enjoy together – friend to friend –  I’ve made three recipes: Spicy Cheesy Pecans based on a recipe from “Party Receipts from the Charleston Junior League,” Not-Parmesan Crackers inspired by Nicole at Pinch My Salt and Stuffed Figs inspired by a tweet about figs from Natanya Anderson at Fete & Feast. I gave these treats a thorough test-drive. They can easily be eaten without ever having to let go of your drink and only a minimum of need to wipe (or maybe lick…) your fingers clean. In short, I loved ’em and will be making them all again (and again and again).

For those of you not familiar with the #LetsLunch bunch, Cheryl Tan of A Tiger in the Kitchen hosts a virtual potluck where each of us posts a recipe for “lunch” based on a theme. This month it is champagne friendly snacks. You can find us online via the Twitter hashtag #LetsLunch. I’ll also share links to posts from other members of the #LetsLunch bunch as I’m able to do so. In some ways, we’re like our own Junior League cookbook, sharing our recipes with each other and folks who come to visit us. Not to mention the countless number of times we’ve been inspired and encouraged by one another. All in all, it’s a pretty fantastic group and I’m so glad to be celebrating our anniversary today.

Okay… On to the good stuff. The recipes.

Spicy Cheesy Pecans
Based on the Walnut Parmesan Recipe in “Party Receipts from the Charleston Junior League

2 cups of pecan halves
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt (only if using cayenne pepper. do not add salt if using Creole Seasoning)
1/2 cup finely shredded manchego cheese (parmesan or other similar cheeses would work too)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with foil. This will make clean up easier later. Spread the pecans in a single layer on the cookie sheet and bake for about 5 to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the pecans. You won’t them to start toasting. You don’t want to let them burn.

Transfer pecans to a good-sized bowl and mix with all of the other ingredients. You want the pecans pretty evenly coated with the ingredients.

Spread the seasoned pecans on the foil-lined cookie sheet again. Bake for about 5 minutes or less. Again, don’t let the pecans burn.

Eat right away or let them cool completely and then store in an airtight container until you’re ready to serve them.

Not-Parmesan Crisps
Based on Nicole at Pinch My Salt’s Recipe
Makes about 8 crisps

½ cup of finely shredded manchego cheese (or parmesan, if you prefer)
½ cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
¼ teaspoon dried thyme (crush in your palm)
¼ teaspoon dried oregano (crush in your palm)
¼ teaspoon of fresh cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper so that your crisps don’t stick to the cookie sheet.

Mix all ingredients together. As I learned from Nicole’s instructions, crushing the dried seasonings in your hand helps release some of their flavor. And if you don’t have exactly these ingredients on hand, feel free to experiment with variations of your own too.

Spoon the cheese mixture into little heaps on the cookie sheet. I used a tablespoon to make sure they were all about the same size. Be sure to leave about 2 inches of space between each scoop.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Let cool on the cookie sheet for about five minutes then transfer to a wire rack until completely cool. Eat right away or store in an air tight container until you’re ready to serve them.

Stuffed Figs
Based on an amalgam of recipes and what I had on hand in the fridge

4 fresh figs, cut in half
4 ounces of goat cheese
8 pecan halves
8 thin slices of hard salami

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

To make room for more filling, scoop out some of the seeds from the fig halves. Spoon about goat cheese into the fig. How much goat cheese you use depends on your preference and the size of your figs. Press a pecan half and a slice of salami into the goat cheese.

Place all stuffed fig halves on the cookie sheet and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve and eat right away.


Read More Second Anniversay #LetsLunch Bunch Recipes!

10 Comments leave one →
  1. July 15, 2011 1:10 pm

    I want to come to your cocktail party – so many delicious choices!

  2. jeswright permalink
    July 15, 2011 2:57 pm

    very cute!!
    If you like pecans you should try this!
    Pecan Crusted Chicken @ Bass Pecan Recipe Blog

  3. July 15, 2011 6:01 pm

    I love the combo of figs and goat cheese. Cheers!

  4. July 15, 2011 9:14 pm

    I wish I had known you when I lived in DC — we could have hit those cocktail parties together! LOVE everything you made above and yes, I want to come to your party along with Chez Us, too! So glad to be cooking along with you and here’s to many more fun lunches! xox

  5. July 16, 2011 12:58 pm

    The stuffed figs really sound delicious and elegant. I am a fan of fruit and cheese so I must try these!

  6. July 19, 2011 12:09 am

    Love the story and reasoning about the Junior League’s books. Being from the South, I totally agree. Every church cookbook has recipes from years of testing, right? These are great choices you prepared, too. Glad to be a part of such a fun group with you – Happy 2nd to us LetsLunch-ers {{{Clink}}}}


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