cheesy love in Advent


Savory Crab Cheesecake Appetizer

(serves 20)

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup melted butter

combine well and spread on the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan, packing it down into a tight crust.  Set aside.

1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped green or red pepper (red is prettier!)
1/4 cup butter

I use a food processor to get this very finely chopped.  Then sauté on a medium heat until tender.  Set aside.

3.5 packages (8 oz. each) of cream cheese (36 ounces)
3 eggs lightly beaten

Beat the room-temperature cream cheese in a mixer until smooth, then add lightly beaten egg and mix on very low in the mixer until egg and cheese are combined.

Remove bowl from mixer and gently though thoroughly stir into it:

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups canned crab meat (drained, flacked apart)
2 cups finely shredded swiss cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
the reserved onion/pepper sauté mix

pour the entire mix into the spring form pan on top of the crust previously made.  Bake at 325 for 70 minutes or until the center is almost set.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cheesecake. cool for an hour. Refrigerate overnight.

To serve, remove from refrigerator, remove sides of the pan, let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Serve with crackers or toasts (bake thinly sliced baguette (they will slice one at the store for you) at 350 degrees, (wiped liberally with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper) for 30 minutes until medium-dark brown and crispy right through like a crouton (check for crispness) and then cool, and when absolutely cool, bag and reserve for serving.

Some friends will come to my home tonight to laugh and love and drink cosmos. We will avoid talk of church or God but God will be more present than ever because we love each other and God tends to show up rather more visibly than usual in that setting (when two or three are gathered…)

I will serve this savory cheesecake – one of my favorite appetizers and a favorite of my guests over the years.

We will all come together with our joy for the season of joy.  We will all have – just beneath the surface – our hurts, our regrets, our deeply-felt losses, our longings for what could be considered a perfect life.  We will stand together in-between the cravings of our human existence and the picture-perfect life we so often imagine when we are alone.  And in the in-between-ness of that, we will be together.

We know each other well.  We know each other’s successes and failures.  We know each other’s losses and gains.  We know each other’s warts and beauty.  And our standing, in authenticity, together, over some cosmos and some warm cheesy crab on toast in the light of candles and a Christmas tree will be enough to signal to God that we understand why He or She or It would want to come to be among us.

We have been told for centuries that God came to save us from sin and evil.  We have been told God came to open a door between our stinky-sewer-ness and His clean glory.

But in the end, when I look into the eyes of my close and trusted friends, I know why God really came.  And it is not because we are disgraceful.  It is because of great love.

When I look into the eyes of the people I love and who love me, I know that God came – chose to enter time for the first time, chose to be human because, when I eat a delicious thing with a trusted and loving friend in the light of a candle – well, I would want to be with us too.

Come to be with us Lord! Come, oh come, Emmanuel.

Not to our churches only.  Come to our gatherings.  All of them. Because with all of our flaws, we are irresistible to you.  Admit it. You are crazy about us. And when the party is over and the candles are burned down, if we close our eyes, even for a moment, you will show us your love. Like you did when you kissed me, in the form of each friend’s departing kiss goodnight.

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