This recipe updates an old favorite, ants on a log. It introduces a host of lovely flavors - tart green apples, tangy blue cheese, slightly bitter Belgian endive, sweet pecans and dried cranberries, but in a kid-friendly finger food form. Our toddler likes bleu cheese and gave this a fair chance, and although she wasn't wild about this the first time around, we're on the right track. This is a delicious snack or appetizer, and for grown-ups would be wonderful with a nice white wine.
If Belgian endive (also known as "witloof chicory") is new to you, it's a fabulous vegetable that can be prepared in many different ways, but I decided to leave it raw here to function like celery in ants on a log. Belgian endive is unique in that it's grown in the dark in order to create white, tight-leafed heads. It is a slightly bitter, but rich and almost creamy tasting vegetable. Look for endive heads that are very white - they're less bitter.
Variation - the recipe below calls for 3 oz. cream cheese and 1 oz. blue cheese. Because we really like blue cheese, I used 2 oz. cream cheese and 2 oz. blue. Use the ratio you think your family would like best.
2 Belgian endive heads
1 generous tablespoon chopped dried cranberries, plus a few extra unchopped ones for garnish
1 generous tablespoon finely chopped toasted pecans
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 oz. blue cheese
1.5 tsp. finely chopped chives
1 granny smith apple
Get out a cutting board because this recipe requires some chopping. If you have a chopping gadget, now's the time.
Wash, slice, and finely chop the apple.
Finely chop the cranberries and pecans if you haven't already.
In a small bowl, stir the cream cheese, pecans, apples, and cranberries together.
Admire your beautiful blue cheese (with your apple covered hand). Crumble it into the mixture.
Gently stir the chives in.
Let the mixture sit while you prepare the endive.
Rinse the endive and cut off the bottom "stem," so that the leaves can be peeled off easily. Gently peel the inner leaves off, rinsing them as you go. Keep going until the leaves become too small to be used.
Scoop the cheese mixture into the top half of each endive leaf. Top with dried cranberries if you want foodie ants on a log.
Update - you can also find this recipe and lots of other fun endive ideas at http://endiveblog.wordpress.com/!