So, I saw one of those 30 second video recipes on Facebook originally posted in Spanish on kiwilimon.com (at twice the quantity) and thought I’d give it a try at our annual holiday lunch at the studio. Everyone seemed to like it, so here’s my slightly altered recipe from the theirs.
CREAM CHEESE & OLIVE CHRISTMAS TREE (appetizer)
(Arbolito de Queso Aceitunas) – from kiwilimon.com (*cut in half from original, as that would be for a huge party)
4 – 8oz. boxes of Neufchatel cheese (2 cups cream cheese)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (moist, but dry; not packed in oil)
¼ cup tri-color bell peppers – cut into tiny bits (except for one piece – cut into a star or flower shape to use on the top of the tree as an ornament) – or, as I did: use 8 of the sweet mini peppers & a whole one for the tree topper
1/2 cup pepperoni slices – cut into tiny strips (orig. said salami, but didn’t indicate what type)
(orig. said 1 morita peppers, finely sliced – but I left this out)
1-1/2 tsp. rosemary, dried
1-1/2 tsp. oregano, dried
1-1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
Olives – green, black, Kalamata, etc. – various colors – stuffed is OK – but use all pitted olives. *This took a 6 oz. can of small black olives and about 3 oz. each of Kalamata, pimento-stuffed small green and jalapeno/garlic stuffed large green olives.
●The cream cheese needs to be worked, to make it more pliable, by creaming it with a heavy spoon (that won’t break) in a large bowl.
●Add all the other ingredients and cream some more – thoroughly mixing the ingredients.
●Place the “dough” on 2 pieces of waxed paper or parchment (placed side-by-side on the serving plate/platter with a gap in the middle. Place dough in center of the gap.
●Cover with another piece of parchment or waxed paper (to keep it off your hands) & mold the blob, like working with clay, into a triangular Christmas tree shape. Dispose of the paper & carefully pull on the two pieces underneath to remove them; clean tray with clean wet towel, if there were any smears – though the 2 pieces of paper were there to avoid this.
●Cover tree with olives by twisting & pressing them into the cheese mold – alternating colors as you work up the tree.
(* recipe didn’t say this, but pat all the olives dry or they won’t stick into the cream cheese as well.)
●Add short sprigs of fresh rosemary randomly between some of the olives to simulate pine needles, and the bell pepper star/flower shape or whole mini pepper as a tree topper.
●Present with a spreader and firm crackers; guests can remove the sprigs of rosemary before eating, if they don’t want to chew a stem!
*** This was enough for a party of 16 – with leftover.
Photo © Martha Lochert. www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com