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Party Spreads

Outdoor entertaining is just around the corner. Great dips and spreads round out an interesting menu, and offer guests something good to munch on. I love Boursin cheese and although it’s pricey, it’s a cinch to make. Spice up your dips and serve something with a little zip at your next party.

1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
3 Tablespoons fresh chives, snipped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of one orange
1 Tablespooon orange juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Whip heavy whipping cream until it has soft peaks. Whip cream cheese and sour cream until smooth and a little fluffy. Combine into one bowl. Fold in remaining ingredients. Chill at least 2 hours, covered, to allow flavors to develop. Makes about 2 cups.

3 cups (about 12 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
3 Tablespoons dried basil
2 cloves garlic
1 heaping Tablespoon freshly ground black peppercorns
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon zest

Pulse together feta, basil, and garlic in food processor until combined. Add olive oil and lemon juice, alternating between each and pulsing after each addition, until the mixture is dense but spreads easily. Add pepper and pulse a few times. Spoon onto serving plate, garnish with lemon zest, and serve with pita chips or your favorite cracker. Makes about 4 cups.

2 sticks butter
3 large onions, thinly sliced
1 lb. chicken livers, rinsed, dried, trimmed
8 slices pumpernickel bread
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
6 small sweet baby gherkins
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup grainy Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 400°. In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and sweat them for 15 minutes; do not let brown. Once the onions are sweet and tender, add livers and raise heat just a little. Cook until livers are firm and cooked through, another 5 to 6 minutes.

While livers cook, place bread on cookie sheet and bake in oven to dry out and toast, 5 to 6 minutes. Cut toasted bread slices into triangles. Pile toast into a basket.

Combine salt, pepper, thyme, and gherkins and sprinkle over livers and onions. Place mixture in food processor in batches and grind into smooth spread. Transfer to serving bowl. Fill small dishes with green onions and mustard. Leftover spread can be chilled for several days. Serves 6.

6 large heads garlic
4 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Spicy Pita Chips, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350°. Remove top quarter of garlic heads, without peeling. Place on foil-lined baking sheet and rub 1 teaspoon of oil into top of each head. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and place, cut side down, on baking sheet. Bake until cloves are soft and golden, about 1 hour. Garlic takes on a sweet flavor when roasted. Remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle. Squeeze each head of garlic to expel the cloves into a bowl. Mash into a paste. Set aside until needed. It is good alone spread on pita chips, or when spread in a thin layer under chopped tomatoes or your favorite vegetable garnishes. Makes 3/4 cup.

Spicy Pita Chips
6 pitas
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut each pita into 8 triangles. Place pitas in bowl and toss well with remaining ingredients. Spread out on a sheet pan. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes, shaking the pan once during cooking. Cool and serve. Makes 48 chips.

8-oz. pkg. chive and onion cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
2 Tablespoons white wine
1 cup cooked crabmeat, flaked
1 cup cooked shrimp, chopped
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 loaf sourdough baguette, cut into 16 slices
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°. Combine first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Mix on medium speed using a hand mixer until blended. Fold in crab and shrimp. Transfer to shallow, 2-cup baking dish. Top with Parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes or until top is lightly brown.

To make the toasted bread slices, place bread slices on baking sheet. (You may also use wheat or pumpernickel toast points.) Brush with olive oil on both sides. Bake in oven for 8 minutes while dip is also baking. Serve dip with toasted bread slices. Serves 4.

Coming Next Month: One Potato, Two Potato Recipes

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