Sometimes it is better to be “back of house.” Let me illustrate with the English Tea, presented each year in early December by the Women of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. “Front of house” are the servers. They spend hours at two seatings bringing out tiers of savories and sweets to our guests. They get nothing. “Back of house” is the kitchen crew. As you can see from the photo, merriment ensues fueled by a wee bit of Chardonnay or Merlot. And we get food. Lots of food.
I am the food chairman and so it is my responsibility to taste everything that goes out to the tea room. Let’s see. My total consumption during the tea was: 3 cucumber sandwiches, 1 egg salad sandwich, 2 Blue Moon sandwiches, 1 chicken salad sandwich, 2 smoked turkey sandwiches with arugula mayonnaise, 1 square shortbread, 1 pecan tart, half a cranberry orange scone with Devonshire cream, 2 “back hall” sandwiches made for the kitchen crew with cream cheese, butter, ham and chipped beef, 3 half cups of red wine and about a pound of these addictive crackers and dip that Julie Reinhardt brought from her office.
I cannot overstate how delicious these are. Crispy, salty, spicy goodness. Which is why you need a soothing sour cream dip to cut the heat. Calories? Don’t even go there. There is nothing nutritionally redeeming about Alabama Fire Crackers. But during the holidays you just have to suspend reason for a few moments and enjoy.
Alabama Fire Crackers
1 cup vegetable oil
1 envelope ranch dressing mix
1 envelope Italian dressing mix
3 tablespoons red pepper flakes (crushed)
1 pound Ritz crackers
Whisk the vegetable oil, dressing mixes and red pepper flakes in a bowl to combine thoroughly. Put the mixture in a 2-gallon plastic zipper bag. Place the crackers in the bag, seal, and turn the bag over to cover the crackers with the spice mix. Let the bag sit for about 1 hour, then turn again. Repeat several more times until the crackers are well-coated with spice mix, and allow the bag to sit refrigerated overnight. Remove crackers and serve.
Zesty Dipping Sauce
16 ounces sour cream
1 package taco seasoning mix
Combine thoroughly and chill for at least an hour.