From celebrity poker tournaments to Texas Hold ‘em competitions, the poker craze that began sweeping the nation with the December 2003 debut of “Celebrity Poker Showdown” shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, poker mania appears to be gaining momentum every day. In the past few months, we’ve seen the launch of All In, a poker enthusiast magazine; and “Tilt,” a new series airing on ESPN. And, the annual World Series of Poker, to be held in Las Vegas from June 2-15, is expected to draw more than 5,000 players from around the world.
Whether you’re hosting a poker stag party; a friendly, penny-ante game with the girls; or celebrities Ray Romano, Heather Graham, Brad Garrett and Allison Janey in the next “Celebrity Poker Showdown” tournament, cookbook author Kathy Gunst has developed two new Finger Food recipes that will impress any card player.
“Finger food no longer means stale pretzels, seven-layer dip, and soggy nachos,” says Gunst, who has been developing exclusive recipes featuring Ile de France gourmet Brie and goat cheese. “Hosts can serve delicious, impressive-looking hors d’oeuvres that are both elegant and easy to prepare. These two finger foods -- Ham Pinwheels with Brie, Herbs and Nuts;and Goat Cheese, Red Pepper and Spinach Frittata --are simple to make, yet the results are anything but.”
Ham Pinwheels feature a slice of good-quality ham, spread with a filling of Brie, fresh herbs and toasted chopped nuts, such as Brazil nuts, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios or almonds. After the ham is rolled, it’s then sliced into pinwheel-shaped hors d’oeuvres, which make for a striking display, notes Gunst.
Equally impressive in both taste and presentation is Kathy’s Goat Cheese Frittata, which can be cut into pizza-shaped wedges and served at room temperature with decorative toothpicks or served hot atop thin slices of good-quality, crusty bread. Gunst notes that unlike an omelet, in which eggs are cooked and folded around a filling, a frittata is baked in the oven until it rises into a dramatic puff.
Authentic and versatile, Ile de France Brie and goat cheese are available in supermarket specialty cheese centers and gourmet food shops nationwide. In addition to being used as a featured recipe ingredient, the cheeses are ideal for hors d’oeuvres: they can be served individually, accompanied by crusty baguettes or crackers; goat cheese can be used in dips and spreads, and Brie can be served with sun-dried apricots or toasted pistachios.
For Kathy Gunst’s Poker Night recipes and additional information regarding Ile de France products, recipes and tips, please visit www.iledefrancecheese.com.