CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Michele and Lori Crist's friends are frequently guinea pigs - and they love it. The mother-daughter duo shares a love of experimenting with new recipes for their gatherings. They're the opposite of conservative cooks who bring out their tried and true dishes when company comes.
When friends stopped by before a recent WVU game, they eagerly checked the serving table to see what the Crist girls dished up. They went with a variation-on-classics theme. Instead of oysters Rockefeller, Michele served Shrimp Rockefeller. At first glance, the layered dip topped with sour cream and black olives looked like that perennial favorite Mexican layered dip. It was instead a Greek dip with a hummus base.
Even the sliders, those miniature burgers popularized by White Castle, held a surprise - tender, shredded roast beef instead of hamburger, and caramelized onions instead of diced whites. Don't look for the catsup to serve with the miniature, hand-battered corn dogs. Michele whipped up a pot of Italian peppers simmered in a vinegary tomato base.
"These are all first time recipes," Michele said. "For tailgates and pre-game parties, I like to do a lot of different things. I intended to do more, actually."
A family member's unexpected hospital stay kept her out of the kitchen for much of the week. Several friends echoed her thoughts, saying every countertop was usually filled, but that there were plenty of good nibbles to keep them happy.
"You always want to have friends who own boats or second homes," said Mary Elisabeth Eckerson. "You also want to have one that cooks. Michele's that friend. When you go to Michele's house, you know you'll eat well."
A generous hostess, Michele makes dishes she won't eat herself because she doesn't care for a main ingredient. She doesn't like cheese, so she won't touch the Beer Cheese Soup or Greek dip. Ditto for mushrooms, so shrimp Rockefeller is out.
Almost every adult and teenager oohed and aahed when they descended on the food-laden table. The game didn't turn out the way they wanted, but the pre-game spread was a winner.
Reach Julie Robinson at
jul...@wvgazette.com or 348-1230.
A frequent entertainer, Michele Crist is the executive director of West Virginia Broadcast Association. Her daughter Lori, 17, is a senior at George Washington High School. The food they make for parties and gatherings is occasionally featured in the Gazette Food section.
Layered Greek Dip
11/2 cups prepared hummus
1 small container sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped black olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 /3 cup sliced green onions
COMBINE sour cream, lemon juice and Italian seasoning
LAYER ingredients on a platter, starting with the hummus.
SERVE with pita chips or tortilla chips
1 package of Pillsbury Pie Crust
2 pounds McIntosh, Macon, or Empire apples (4 large)
3/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup granulated or superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
5 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
PREHEAT oven to 450 degrees F.
FLOUR a rolling pin and roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Using a 4-inch biscuit cutter, cut rounds and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
PEEL, core and dice apples in to small cubes. Toss the cubes with the orange zest. Mound apples in the middle of the circle, leaving a border
COMBINE the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and allspice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly on the apples. Gently fold the dough border around the apples to enclose them, pleating it to make a circle.
BAKE the crostata for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is golden and the apples are tender.
ALLOW to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature with prepared caramel sauce and whipped cream.
Roast Beef Sliders with Caramelized Onions
3 pound chuck roast
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Fresh cracked pepper
1 package dried onion soup mix
5 cups water, divided
24 Parker House rolls, cut in half to make 48 pieces
SPRINKLE onion and garlic powders and pepper on both sides of the roast. Heat pan on the stove and sear each side of the roast.
COMBINE dried onion soup mix with four cups of water and pour over roast. Cover and place in preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour. Add one more cup of water and turn down to 325 degrees for two more hours. Roast should be fork tender. Let roast rest and shred into a bowl. Pour the juice from the roasting pan on the meat and let sit.
FILL roll halves with meat mixture. Strain leftover juice through a strainer for use as a dipping sauce.
SLICE 3 medium onions and place in skillet with 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon salt.
COOK the onion mixture over low heat until they slowly start to turn brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon brandy and cook off alcohol.
SERVE warm with sliders.
Mini Corn Dogs