The holidays have flown by and a New Year is upon us. If you survived with your sanity intact, then it’s time for new dreams, new adventures and new beginnings. Opportunities for gathering with friends and family will never end, but keeping the stress out of the kitchen should be top priority. Whether you’re celebrating a victory or a holiday, feeding a handful or a herd, making easy and delicious treats will give you something to cheer about.
One great crowd pleaser is a Muffaletta.
New Orleans Muffalettas
It’s as easy as it is delicious and it becomes more scrumptious hours after you’ve made it. SCORE! The Muffaletta originated many years ago among Italian immigrants in New Orleans. Traditionally, it’s made with an Italian loaf bread (similar to focaccia) sliced in half, covered with an olive spread and layered with assorted meats and cheeses. We’ve always been flexible with ours and just added our favorites; it’s very forgiving. This sandwich can be heated to soften and warm the cheese or served cold. We also make our own olive spread because we’ve loved this classic sandwich long before that was readily available. Feel free to make ours or purchase your favorite brand. The good thing about making your own olive spread is that it allows you to see exactly what all goes into it. It’s easy to make, super yummy, and is what makes this “sandwich” more than just a sandwich.
Want to make a submarine sandwich style Muffaletta? Use a loaf of French bread. What better way to feed a hungry crowd! It’s perfect to make ahead and pack up for that long car ride, sporting event or picnic. For a more festive gathering, why not make little individual ones by using small hard rolls from the bakery section of the grocery store. They can be made ahead and kept in the fridge until game time or heated up when ready to serve. Whether you want them hot or cold you just can’t go wrong with this classic New Orleans staple!
What You Need – Olive Spread
- 2∕3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ½ cup chopped Pimiento Stuffed Green Olives
- ½ cup chopped Black Olives
- ¼ cup chopped fresh Parsley
- (or substitute 1 teaspoon dried Parsley)
- ½ teaspoon dried Oregano, optional
- ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
- 2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
- 1 teaspoon minced Garlic
*Makes about 2 cups
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor.
- Pulse/chop until olives are little crumbles, but not a paste.
- Cover and refrigerate olive spread for several hours or overnight
- so the flavors can really get to know each other.
What You Need – Muffaletta
- Italian Loaf/French Bread/Hard Rolls/Focaccia/Other
- Olive Spread – about 2 cups
- Genoa salami, sliced thinly
- Deli Ham, sliced thinly
- Mozzarella cheese, sliced and/or Provolone cheese, sliced
These amounts easily feed 6 on French Bread – you can certainly adjust meats/cheeses to your liking and make as many on Hard Rolls as your heart desires.
Building a Muffaletta
- Slice your choice of bread horizontally.
- With the bottom of the bread open side up, layer half of the meat and cheese on the bread.
- Drain the olive spread a bit and spread half of it on the sandwich and top with remaining meat and cheese.
- Finish by spreading on the remainder of the olive mixture.
- Put the top of the bread on the sandwich and press down. Wrap the Muffaletta up tightly and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
Remember, this will get better if it sits awhile. The sandwich can be eaten cold, heated in the microwave or wrapped with foil and baked for about 30 minutes in a 300 degree oven to give the bread a little more crunch. Slice with a serrated knife to serve.
Creamy Beer Cheese Dip
A great sidekick to your Classic Muffaletta is Beer-Cheese Dip. Whether you enjoy beer or not, this just screams cold weather and football. It’s a corn chips best friend! A hearty beer works best for this dip – don’t waste your time using a lite beer. We used a Wheat Ale and it was delicious, but any full flavored Ale or Lager would work just fine. Again, as with the Muffaletta, this dip gets better as it rests, so make this up the night before the crew heads over and save your stress for the big game!
What You Need – Beer Cheese Dip
- 2 – 8 ounce packages softened Cream Cheese
- 1 – 8 ounce container Sour Cream
- 1 package dry Ranch Dressing mix
- 1 cup full bodied Beer
- 2 cups Sharp Cheddar, finely shredded
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire
- A few drops of Louisiana Hot Sauce
- 1 cup Bacon, cooked and crumbled – optional
- 1 cup Green Onion, chopped – optional
(*This makes about 12 servings and can be easily halved or doubled)
Making Beer Cheese Dip
- Add cream cheese, sour cream, 1 ½ cups of the cheddar cheese, the Ranch dressing packet, Worcestershire and Louisiana Hot Sauce into a food processor.
- Pour in a tablespoon or two of beer and pulse to break down and combine cheese. Mixture may be a bit thick but you want the cheese to become completely incorporated, not lumpy.
- Remove lid and scrape down sides of processor several times – adding a bit more beer each time until mixture reaches a smooth creamy texture.
- Drink the remainder of the beer.
- Cover dip and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheddar, bacon bits and green onions.
Serve it up with pretzels or scoops!
Regardless of how well the game turns out this dip will score big points.
Fried Goat Cheese Sticks
Nothing says game time like eating something fried… yummy, crunchy and soothing to the soul. However, if you want to add a little “froof” to your party try frying up some goat cheese. These little treats are yummy as appetizers, a side to a salad, or if you’re like me, you would eat ‘em for breakfast.
What You Need – Fried Goat Cheese
- 6 oz. Goat Cheese Log
- 1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried Parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
- pinch of Kosher Salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup flour
- Olive Oil for frying
(*This recipe makes about 4 servings but can easily be doubled)
Frying Goat Cheese
- Chill the cheese! Pop the whole package in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
- While your cheese is chillin’ grab the rest of your ingredients for the dredge. You will need 3 small/medium size bowls.
- Put the Panko breadcrumbs in one medium size bowl. Add the parsley, garlic powder, pepper and kosher salt. Stir to combine well and set aside.
- In the second bowl, crack the eggs and beat them and set aside.
- Put the flour in the last bowl or on a plate.
- Remove the goat cheese from the freezer. Unwrap it and carefully slice into 1/2 inch slices – wiping your knife clean after each slice. (You can also use unflavored dental floss for easy slicing!)
- Put a slice of cheese in the flour. Flip it gently to coat on both sides. Drop the floured cheese into the beaten egg. Flip it gently to coat with egg on both sides. Lastly, put it into the seasoned Panko bread crumbs. Flip it to coat on both sides.
- Repeat with the rest of the cheese, setting aside onto waxed paper or a cookie sheet. You can do this an hour or more ahead of time if need be – just keep them refrigerated.
- Now, here comes the fun part. Put a little olive oil in a nonstick pan, (a quarter of an inch or so and bring to a medium heat.
- Gently grab your little breaded goat cheeses and place a few of them into your pan and fry. Watch closely as they will brown fairly quickly. Flip each one over and gently brown on the other side. Remember not to overcrowd your pan. A crowded pan means your food will almost steam instead of fry, and you’ll wind up with soggy cheese….and nobody wants that.
- Remove and drain cheese on a paper towel as they become golden. Let them rest a bit before consuming or the lava hotness will dissolve your taste buds.
You can certainly fry these before your guests arrive – they’ll be fine. Now sit back and watch them disappear!!! ENJOY!