We've not been the best of neighbors in the 11 years that we have lived in this house. Oh nothing awful like loud parties at all hours, hurling trash over the fence or having broken down cars on the front lawn, but we definitely haven't reached out as much as I think we should have.
We finally made a time to invite the wonderful people that surround us, both new and established, for an informal Happy Hour, and what a fabulous hour (or more) it was.
It was fabulous even though my youngest sampled a "grape" - which was actually a very spicy olive from the warm olive saute - that not only burned his mouth and throat, but also his eyes which he had rubbed with his spice speckled fingers. It was fabulous even through my attempt to be a gracious hostess while rinsing eyes out with water and calming a wailing child, because at the end of it all, I simply remembered the warmth and joy of spending time with our neighbors.
WARM OLIVE SAUTE
Saute peel from 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, and 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, in 1/3 cup of hot olive oil in a skillet, for 1 minute.
Add 1 1/2 cups mixed olives, 10 peppadew peppers, 1 cored and sliced fennel bulb and 1/2 cup roasted, lightly salted almonds.
Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes, or until fennel is crisp tender.
Recipe adapted from Southern Living, December 2009
WARM PIQUILLO CRAB DIP
1 pound lump crab, picked over
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup manchego cheese, shredded
9 ounces of piquillo peppers, drained and cut into strips
Heat oven to 350F.
In a bowl, combine the crab, mayonnaise, creme fraiche, parsley, chives, mustard, lemon juice and 3/4 cup of the manchego cheese. Spread the crab mixture in a baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and top with the piquillos. Bake about 20 to 25 minutes, until cheese is melted and the dip is warmed through.
Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, September 2008